Bennie E Ray hung his hat for the last time the afternoon of October 18, 2022, surrounded by love, peace, and comfort, with his wife Linda, and his four-legged trusted companions Levi and Chris at his side. Bennie left a remarkable legacy; one that will have many talking, long after his passing. To condense his accomplishments and how he made people feel is a rather difficult task.
Born in Artesia, New Mexico on January 8, 1940, to Burnice Elmer Ray and Sallie Bell Wilson Ray, Bennie was raised in West Texas and attended high school at Spring Branch in Houston. He served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army after high school. After serving his country, Bennie earned a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University where he was an active member in Alpha Tau Omega, a fraternity he believed responsible for his college success and where he remained an active member. Bennie ran an athletic program for boys and managed the camp’s horses in North Carolina. This experience led him to the ROTC program and later taught at the Texas Department of Corrections in Huntsville before law school.
Bennie earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. Following that degree, he earned his Master of Arts in Human Services from St. Edwards University. Some of Bennie’s greatest memories are from his time in Brownsville, where he went on a whim after law school to begin his practice. Bennie spoke passionately about practicing law in Texas and Georgia, lecturing at Cambridge University on comparative law, and international criminal law in China and Costa Rica. Bennie Ray’s name was often echoed in Texas criminal law settings and the National College for DWI Defense conferences. He filled many conference rooms with his voice and intellect, motivating many to sign up for CLE credit looking for his name on the roster year after year. He earned accolades in his profession and was selected to Super Lawyers for 2003, 2012 - 2022. He was a proud recipient in 2021 of the National College for DUI Defense Erwin-Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award. He served as a founding member, director, and President of the Texas DWI Defense Lawyers Association. Bennie put his degrees, experiences, and heart to good use, practicing criminal defense law in Austin and throughout Texas for 49 years.
As an athlete, Eagle Scout, army officer, cowboy, competitive mounted shooter, and teacher, he was full of life and adventure. Bennie loved to fly, owning many airplanes throughout his life. He also enjoyed scuba diving, riding his Harley, fishing, tennis, golfing, and traveling, and he was an avid hunter. He was proud of the Corvette collection he acquired over the years.
A book could be written about his experiences from the time he spent practicing law in Brownsville. His stories were captivating and endless, unbelievable and unimaginable at times. His adventures extended to Mexico, where his love of Mexico grew from its people, culture, and lifestyle. He enjoyed listening to Mariachi music, especially the songs of Vicente Fernandez. He also had a love for Elvis Presley, as well as shared his birthday (Jan. 8).
Bennie had a deep affection for his horses and often said he was happiest when he was home on his ranch. He enjoyed riding his horses, Kit, Dinero, Remi, and Bella, or simply spending time with his dogs Chris and Levi, and his cat, Exxon, and as he would say, his beautiful bride.
Bennie touched many lives over the years and established life-long friendships with people from all walks of life. He will be greatly missed by his friends and family. He never lost his sense of humor even during his last days. He bravely fought a lengthy battle with cancer with dignity, grace, and strength. He was a man’s man, a Cowboy’s cowboy, and a lawyer’s lawyer.
Bennie Ray is preceded in death by his parents, Burnice Elmer Ray and Sallie Bell Wilson Ray. He is survived by his loving wife, Linda Wollaston Ray, his daughter Sharif Ray Heemer (Kris), his grand-son Alan Heemer, his step-children, Lauren Wollaston, Ben Wollaston, and Nick Wollaston, his sister Myrna Loy Ray Taylor (Bill), his secretary of twenty-seven years, Rita Rivera Aguirre (Rick), and many cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends. The family would like to thank his caregiver, Eva Ordonez, for the compassionate care she provided him.
A Celebration of Life will be held on January 7, 2023, at Creekside Event Venue 18315 FM 1826 Driftwood, Texas from 4 pm to 9 pm.