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Special Role For Asian Community In Gov. Ray Remembrance

Daniel Moon
Lao refugees who relocated to Iowa during the Vietnam War and their new family members in Iowa gather in Des Moines in 2015

Representatives of Iowa’s Asian community will play a special role on Thursday in observances honoring former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, who passed away this week at the age of 89.       

A motorcade will transport Ray’s body through Des Moines and to the Capitol where he will lie in state in the rotunda.  

Members of the Asian community will lay one of the wreaths on the coffin and lead the procession of Iowans paying their respects.

Governor Ray's relationship with the Asian community is pretty well-known. - Former Chief of Staff David Oman

Ray oversaw the resettlement of thousands of southeast Asian refugees in Iowa in the 70’s.

Former Chief of Staff David Oman says the governor’s relationship with the Asian community is well-known.

“Some of the most heart-felt moving emotional tributes … this morning have come from some whose lives were saved or children or grandchildren of people whose lives were saved.

“We assumed there would be keen interest in their participation in the service and lying in state,” Oman said. “We were right.”     

Des Moines Police and Iowa State Troopers will lead the motorcade past locations in Des Moines that were important to Gov. Ray and his wife Billie.   That includes First Christian Church where they met,  Roosevelt High School and Drake University where they graduated, Terrace Hill, Des Moines City Hall where Ray served as interim mayor, and to the Capitol, where Ray served 14 years as governor.

"Mostly this is to allow the Ray's eight grandchildren to see some of the touchpoints of their lives,” Oman said. 

Iowans are being encouraged to pay their respects at the capitol on Thursday, ahead of the funeral on Friday at First Christian Church.

The Capitol's south entrance will be open to the public Thursday.   Visitors will be allowed to file past the governor’s casket from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.