January 6, 1926 – August 21, 2016 Gilmer,
James Ray Gilmer passed away August 21, 2016. Born January 6, 1926, he spent his youth in Wolfe City, Texas where he met the love of his life, June Womack Gilmer. In 1943 he was salutatorian of his high school class and attended the University of Houston until he was old enough to join the Navy. He entered officers’ candidate school and went to Milsaps and Notre Dame. At 19, he became a Navy Ensign, the youngest commissioned officer in Texas at the time. The Navy stationed him in Washington DC. June joined him there, they married in 1945 and quickly moved to San Diego for the final days of World War II. Shortly after the war, he was sent to Washington and promoted to Lt. JG.
In 1946, he and June moved home to Texas. Like so many of the “great generation,” Ray finished college on the GI Bill. In 1948, he graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in electrical engineering and, immediately, went to work for Varo Inc., an up and coming defense and aeronautic industry company in Garland, Texas. Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960s, as one of Varo’s vice presidents, he worked on the development of the earliest versions of night vision equipment and aspects of space exploration as well as other innovative, cutting-edge projects and products. In 1964, he chaired a major aeronautic meeting in Dallas that brought together the best scientific and business minds in America to discuss the latest ideas in space travel and the potential for commercial utilization of space. In the course of his work, he travelled all over the world…to Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Far East, and South America. Closer to home, he became a civic leader in Garland. He served on the Garland City Council and was president of the Garland Jaycees. In the early 1970s, Ray moved into the medical electronics area. He was a pioneer in the field and devoted the rest of his career to studying, researching, and advocating for the benefits of CES.
Ray was a problem solver. Resourceful and inventive, he could build anything…from a car seat for a newborn in 1946 to a “magic” travel train that could carry all six of his grandchildren at a time. He was kind and generous to a fault.
Ray was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, June, and survived by his two daughters and sons-in-law, Jamie Williams and Dr. Craig E. Williams of Dallas and Anne and James Snow of Garland; a granddaughter, Erin Heideman of Dallas, and five grandsons and their wives and 12 great grandchildren, Ward and Amber Williams and Rockwell of Nashville, TN; Derrin and Whitney Williams and Graham and Lanier of Dallas; and Dr. Todd and Mary Williams and Kate, Andrew, Phillip, and Georgia of Dallas; Jason and Stephanie Heideman and Kaitlyn, Austin, and Allyson of Coppell; and Larkin and Lindsay Heideman and Camilla and Finn of Austin, Texas.
Services will be through Owens Funeral Home, Wolfe City, Texas with burial at Mount Carmel Cemetery, Wolfe City, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dallas Visiting Nurses Association.