The Baptism and Memorial of Timothy Ray
By: Carlos Rocha, January 11, 2017
credit: Courtney Holden
Timothy Ray was a lover of the church and his friends at National Community Church (NCC). And they loved him back. One friend he met there, Steve Graybill described Ray as an authentic individual who loved to share his struggles in hopes of helping someone else. Ray found kinship when he attended his first meeting at the church’s “Living Room” program in 2014 and became a Bible study regular at the group’s Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill.
His goal was simple; Ray would better himself through the church so as to help both him and others.
Timothy Ray at his graduation from Project Empowerment. | Photo courtesy of Courteney Holden
He once led more than 20 people from the shelter to be baptized with him at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland. He was lead in this Journey himself by Pastor Terrance Sutton and Ernest Clover. Ray brought many new people into his church and took each of them under his wing, even when he himself was struggling. Those people looked up to his great heart, always willing to give more than he ever took, according to Graybill.
On top of his two churches, Ray was also a member of many organizations, such as So Others Might Eat and Project Empowerment. He struggled with alcohol and drug issues, but never let that weigh on his resolve to turn things around.
While holding down several jobs, including one at Pete’s Coffee & Tea, Ray completed courses at a Project Empowerment, a city transitional employment program. He worked so hard that, occasionally, he didn’t make it to Adam’s Place shelter in time to get a bed. Either way, he’d still wake up to do it all again the next day.
At the age of 51, Timothy Ray passed away. He was laid to rest Dec. 19 at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Northeast. The plot was donated by So Other’s Might Eat. His name was also read and displayed at the 2016 Homeless Persons Memorial Day vigil.
Ray cared about people and lived through those who he helped accomplish their goals. One of those people was his 3-year girlfriend, Cynthia Williams, with whom he spoke every day. She lives in Maryland and said “when he came to town everyone would know that man from D.C. was on the block: as he blasted his Go-Go music.”
Williams once also lived in the streets and struggled with addiction. She credits Ray as giving her the strength to never give up while going through programs and moving forward. He had a good relationship with his family in Maryland too, which included his mother, Althia Tinson, his sister, Deborah Ray and his sons Timothy Perry & Anthony Petty. He would return home for special occasions, but never really let his family in on much of what he was going through, according to Williams.
As a lover of all sports, Ray was fondest of the Nationals, the Washington football team and any team from Duke University. He was a celebrated wrestler in high school, which carried him to Coppin State University. He joined the military soon after and entered into basic training. This is when he had his two sons, Timothy and Anthony, who he loved dearly. He did whatever he had to do to feed his family, Williams shared.
2016 was a rough year: Ray missed the weddings of both of his sons and that of his church friends Courteney and “Big Tim.” He was hard on himself in those closing months, regardless of how hard he worked and the goals he had accomplished he struggled to get out of town for his friends and families weddings. As these things weighed on him heavily, he fostered his at-home relationships. He continued to care more for others’ wellbeing than he did his own. “Tim will be fondly remembered by most everyone who crossed paths with him,” Graybill said.
Timothy Ray with some of his friends from National Community Church. | Courteney Holden