Louis Ray Pate, 81, passed away Saturday, 4 January 2020, at his home in Clinton, North Carolina. Louis (Ray) was born 30 December 1938 to Gilbert and Gladys Pate in Mt. Olive, North Carolina, the oldest of three children. He graduated from Hobbton High School in 1957 and earned his Associates in Applied Science in 1977 from the Community College of the Air Force.
Ray is a Vietnam Veteran and served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force in multiple operational and strategic assignments across diverse locations in the United States and overseas. His service included assignments of increasing responsibility and expertise, including positions as a jet fighter mechanic, a recruiter, and instructor at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy. He met his beautiful bride and wife of 62 years, Edna Kay Lee Hunter, in high school and they were later married in South Carolina.
Following retirement from the Air Force in 1979, he began his journey into farming, which included the development, implementation and sustainment of a large hog farm in Sampson County that has continued to thrive since its groundbreaking in the early 1980s. His passion for farming later included turkeys and cows, the latter of which has been a tremendous source of personal satisfaction for both him and his family—his favorite cow, Raven, has become an extended and integral part of his family and legacy.
Ray’s passion for life and his approach to service, integrity and honor not only follow the AF values, but also embody the quote attributed to William Wallace, “Every man dies. Not every many really lives.” Although he often joked that he—and his many friends—were suffering from A.G.E., he also was so thankful for the fullness of life that that can only be attained through introspection and action based on incorporation of higher-order values and character. He lived fully and in a way that demonstrated a virtuous and sincere approach to service, family and community that transcended self—his love of God, community, service, and living life fully is evident in the numerous stories and connections built not only in this small community, but also in the larger military and national communities that touch us all. If he weren’t a farmer, it’s likely that he would have also become a professional writer, as he has also shared some of his life-insights in short written and spoken stories with both family and friends with topics ranging from Pascal’s philosophy on faith to proper management of hay fields!
Ray is survived by his wife, Edna; daughters, Gina Pate and Cynthia (Pate) Stuppnig; sons Christopher and Cliff; grandchildren Kristen, Connor, Christopher, and Jonah Pate, Taylor Hegler; Travis Pate, Amber Key, Trevon Pate; Jarrad, Kaylee, and Moriah Pate, Amanda Santos, Tracy Brink; Kai and Alyssa Stuppnig; Camryn and Logan Pate; great grand-children Chase and Cooper Pate; Gage Carter, Ayden Salazar and “Max” Santos. Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Gilbert and Gladys Pate, his son, Kenneth Pate, his sister Gaynelle Autry, and his brother Frank Pate.
Church service and visitation with friends and family will be held on Friday, 10 January 2020, at Carr Memorial Church, 91 Carr Church Road, Clinton, North Carolina with service commencing promptly at 6:00PM. Military funeral honors will be held on Saturday, 11 January 2020, at 11:00 AM at the Pate Family Cemetery, 2210 Hunter Road, Clinton, North Carolina with Pastor Charles Ray Jernigan officiating. Additional questions about arrangements should be directed to Crumpler-Honeycutt Funeral Homes at 910-592-2066.
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