DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Governor Robert D. Ray passed away on Sunday morning at 89 years old.
His health had declined in recent years as he battled Parkinson’s disease, and his family says he died peacefully at Wesley Acres.
Iowans first elected Ray as their governor in 1968 and then re-elected him four times. His civility earned bipartisan accolades, especially when he made a decision–which, at the time, was controversial–several times in the 1970s, welcoming thousands of refugees to Iowa from southeast Asia, helping fundraise for their families left behind, and constantly working to reassure Iowans that it was their moral duty to help those in distress. This is especially poignant still today as the United States is in the middle of a deeply divisive argument over migrants coming into the country.
Few people know the governor better than former State Representative Scott Raecker, who now serves as director of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University, which was formerly known as Character Counts in Iowa.
Raecker sat down with Political Director Dave Price to discuss Governor Ray’s legacy and the many contributions he made to Iowa.