As families gathered to celebrate the nation’s independence with live music and fireworks in Collegedale, Tenn. on July 3, a sudden medical emergency arose involving an audience member.
It was difficult to see what was happening, and to whom—and it’s not polite to gawk. At one point it was obvious that CPR was being administered. The situation clearly was serious.
When an event official announced over the loudspeakers that a moment of silence was to be held, followed by a prayer from the pastor of the Ooltewah United Methodist church, not only was the gravity of the person’s illness reinforced, but his identity was suddenly clear: it was Ray Minner, an erstwhile English teacher at Collegedale Academy and a passionately civic-minded individual.
Ray was not simply there as a casual attendee. He was sitting right up front as a loving husband and beaming dad to cheer on two of his family members.
Ray’s wife, Laurie Redmer Minner, directs the Southern Adventist University Symphony Orchestra. An accomplished violist as well as conductor, she was set to perform in the East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra’s concert Tuesday evening.
Ray’s son, Caleb Minner, is a U.S. Army infantryman who is currently on leave from active duty in Afghanistan. He was to have led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Though members of the Collegedale Police Department and the Tri-County Fire Department along with other emergency personnel swiftly and valiantly administered care, Ray succumbed to apparent cardiac arrest Tuesday evening.
He leaves a legacy of which any should be proud. Ray officially taught literature, but his former students acknowledge that he imbued them with a wide range of contextual information regarding history, current events, politics, and more. He loved a political debate, and would tirelessly engage in vigorous but respectful dialogue with any who would care to join him.
Twice Ray ran, unsuccessfully, for the Collegedale City Commission. He had been thinking at one point of seeking election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in the current election. He ultimately decided against doing so, but his involvement in local political happenings did not wane.
Ray’s faith played a large part in his life. He taught a weekly Sabbath School class (Seventh-day Adventists’ answer to Sunday School) and was otherwise very active in his church. It was obvious through his actions, such as leading blood donation efforts, that he cared about his community.
Ray’s frequent Facebook posts displayed a love for his family that surpassed even his passion about societal concerns. Ray and Laurie had recently returned from a trip to South Africa with the New England Youth Ensemble. Ray was proud of his son Caleb’s service to his country.
Ray Minner was a giving and devoted person. He was a champion of liberty and of civic duty. He was a patriot. He was a friend.
He will be missed.