When I heard that Sen. Bill Ray was leaving Juneau, I felt a surge of sadness. These feelings were quickly replaced by my feelings of honor and pleasure to have known and worked with a person of his caliber. After observing him for a period of 30 years or more, I can personally say the Bill Ray was one of the most effective elected officials that Juneau, indeed Alaska, has ever had. No, his strategies did not always please everyone - and he did not care - but Juneau always came out a winner as a result of his efforts. His shrewd and calculating methods of operation demonstrated rare and unusual legislative skills.
Over the years, it was fascinating for me to watch this one man outwit, outmaneuver and frequently frustrate the ``big boys from the Railbelt.'' One Anchorage newspaper began to call him ``StingRay,'' which I thought was very appropriate. You could bet that if Bill stung someone, they had traveled too far into his territory because he was very protective of Juneau. Some of his fellow legislators used to call the current Alaska State Office Building ``Fort Ray'' until later when it changed to the SOB.
Those of us who appreciate the finer quality of life in Juneau as we know it today can be grateful to Sen. Bill Ray because he made much of it possible. I will certainly miss reminiscing with him in the legislative halls and the local stores. No matter what anyone says about him, I will always remember him as a man of convictions who served the Juneau community extremely well in his own prodigious style.
I am sorry to see him leave, but I wish only the best for him and Nancy during their relaxing years.
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