Ray Harris Dovell: January 3, 1925-May 19, 2013
Long-time Wilton resident Ray H. Dovell, age 88, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on May 19, 2013. Ray was born in Houston, Texas in 1925, where his parents spent the early years of their marriage as reporters on the Houston Star. Ray grew up in Bronxville, New York where he was active in the Boy Scouts, hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in his teenage years, and serving on Appalachian Mountain Club crews as a “hut boy.”
Ray’s college years at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, were interrupted by his service in the U. S. Navy. After his freshman year he enlisted in the Navy’s V-12 program at Duke University, followed by Midshipman School at Columbia University. He was a “90-day wonder,” commissioned as an officer at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York in the spring of 1945. As an Ensign he was assigned to the USS Morris out of Hunter’s Point, CA; however, it had been damaged in the Pacific and he was involved in its repair before it was subsequently de-commissioned. Ray served on the mine sweeper USS Chinchona, laying nets along the West Coast until the end of the War. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve until 1956.
After the War, Ray completed his B.S. in Chemistry at Washington and Lee, where he always considered himself a member of the Class of 1946. He went on to receive his chemical engineering degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA in 1950. There he met his future wife, Mildred Morin, on a blind date in 1948 at a college mixer with Radford University in Radford, VA. They married in 1950 in Petersburg, VA.
Ray worked as a chemical engineer for Mobil Oil for his entire professional career, spending much of his time in the planning, design and start-up of oil refineries across the country. Ray’s work with Mobil took the family to Beaumont, Texas; Bellingham, Washington; and Augusta, Kansas, before settling in Darien, Connecticut for ten years and then in Richmond, Virginia, close to his wife’s family, for another four. He returned to Mobil’s New York headquarters in 1970 at which time they settled in Wilton. He continued to work with Mobil until his retirement in 1984. A highlight for him was a 3-year assignment in the Middle East, designing the trans-Arabian pipeline from the oil fields on the Persian Gulf to the port of Yanbu on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. He and Millie lived in Jeddah for those years in the late 1970’s.
Always an avid sailor, Ray received his papers as a U.S. Merchant Marine Officer from the U. S. Coast Guard in 1991 and drove the Audubon barge out of Norwalk in Long Island Sound. Ray was also active at Sprite Island Yacht Club, the Wilton Kiwanis Club, and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. He served on the vestry and as senior warden at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Stamford when his children were growing up. He was a talented photographer and his black and white photos won many honors in the Stamford Camera Club. His interest in archeology led him to classes at Norwalk Community College and subsequently on local digs in Wilton and Redding. He discovered one of Chief Chicken’s shelters and Indian remains that helped to confirm Chief Chicken’s footpath along the ridge that includes Chicken Street. Hence, Ray became known as the “Mayor of Chicken Street” and regaled its residents each year with tales of Chief Chicken at the Chicken Street Festival. He instilled in all of his children and grandchildren a love of both the sea and the mountains. Four generations of the Dovell family have taken hiking vacations in the White Mountains, staying at Cold River Camp, where Ray first hiked with his parents in 1940.
Ray is survived by three children and their spouses: Susan Dovell and Richard Maynard, of Falls Church, VA; Ray Jr. and Carol, of Hasting-on-Hudson, NY and Andrew and Sue, of Sydney, Australia; and five grandchildren: Kelly, Annie, Ada, Fraser and Frances. He is predeceased by his wife Mildred and his daughter Louise. A memorial service in his honor will be held at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton on Friday, May 24 at 10:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Cold River Camp are appreciated. Checks can be made to “Appalachian Mountain Club” with memo of “Cold River Camp — Ray Dovell” and sent to: Roger Scholl, Director of Chapter and Volunteer Relations, Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108-1403.