Robert D. Ray
|38th Governor of Iowa|
January 16, 1969 - January 14, 1983
|Robert D. Fulton|
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
June 8, 1975 - July 4, 1976
|Calvin L. Rampton|
|Cecil D. Andrus|
|Mayor of Des Moines|
May 5, 1997 - November 3, 1997
Robert Dolph Ray
September 26, 1928
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||July 8, 2018 (aged 89)|
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Billie Hornberger (m. 1951)
|Education||Drake University (BA, LLB)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
During his tenure as governor, Ray served as chair of the National Governors Association from 1975 to 1976; led to the passage of the Iowa Burials Protection Act of 1976, which was the first legislative act in the United States that specifically protected American Indian remains; and accepted thousands of refugees into Iowa.
Ray was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1928. Ray's father was Clark Ray, an accountant. Ray's mother was Mildred Ray.  Ray graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1946. After high school, Ray served in the United States Army.
In 1969, Ray became the Governor of Iowa. During Ray's time in office, the Iowa Constitution was modified, increasing the governor's term of office from two years to four years. Ray served as chair of the National Governors Association from 1975 to 1976. He also served as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, the Midwestern Governors Association, the Education Commission of the States and was the president of the Council of State Governments. As Governor, Ray issued executive orders promoting civil rights, energy conservation, and paperwork reduction as well as establishing the Governor's Economy Committee, the Iowa Council for Children, the Task Force on Government Ethics, the Science Advisory Council, and the Iowa High Technology Commission. Ray signed legislation establishing the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 1974. In 1982, that commission named him the first recipient of the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice. In 1976, Ray, along with his wife Billie Ray and three daughters, became the first Governor of Iowa to occupy Terrace Hill, the official Governor's mansion.
Ray's tenure in office was notable for his humanitarianism on behalf of Southeast Asian Tai Dam refugees. Ray agreed to bring the group to the United States by creating his own refugee resettlement program. Ray announced that the state of Iowa would accept 1,500 additional refugees in January 1979. Ray wrote letters to President Jimmy Carter and other governors asking them to support greater admissions of boat people. Opinion polls from the period demonstrated Ray's refugee resettlement and relief efforts were very controversial. Many feared competition for jobs, diversion of funds from needy native Iowans, and racial mixing.
Ray also enacted the first laws in the U.S. that protected American Indian graves. In the early 1970s, Maria Pearson was appalled that the skeletal remains of Native Americans were treated differently from those of caucasians. Pearson protested to Ray, finally gaining an audience with him after sitting outside his office in traditional attire. Ray cooperated with Pearson, and their work led to the passage of the Iowa Burials Protection Act of 1976, the first legislative act in the U.S. that specifically protected American Indian remains. This act was the predecessor of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
After leaving the governor's office in 1983, Ray became CEO of Life Investors Inc, an insurance company. 
In 2005, Ray became the only governor or former governor to have received Iowa's highest civilian honor, the Iowa Award, by the Iowa Centennial Memorial Commission.
In 1951, Ray married Billie Lee Hornberger, his high school sweet heart. Ray had 3 daughters. 
In Ray's later years, he suffered from Parkinson's disease.
|Party political offices|
William G. Murray
| Republican nominee Governor of Iowa
1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1978
| Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Otis R. Bowen
Robert D. Fulton
| Governor of Iowa
Calvin L. Rampton
| Chair of the National Governors Association
| Mayor of Des Moines
| President of Drake University