Ray was born at home in Mt. Carmel, TN on February 5,1927. He was the baby of the family, having five older brothers and three older sisters. He was proud of being a graduate of "Old Dobyns-Bennett" High School in 1945 and later obtained an electronics degree from Baltimore Technical Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
He married the mother of his children, Mildred Tiller, in 1950 and they lived in several areas including Kingsport, TN, Baltimore, Maryland, Dayton, Ohio, and Nashville, TN, before settling in Bristol, Virginia to be closer to their families. Ray and Mildred were divorced after 25 years of marriage and Ray continued to live in Bristol until failing health required him to move to Nashville to live with his son, Gregg, and most recently with his daughter, Chris, in Johnson City. He had been a resident at the Waters of Johnson City for the past fifteen months.
Ray was drafted shortly after graduating high school and served in the United States Army in World War U, completing tours in Germany and Italy where he kept watch over prisoners of war. He returned to the United States by ship into Ellis Island in New York City.
Ray worked at Raytheon until its closure then obtained his third-class FCC license and became a radio announcer and worked at multiple radio stations around this area including WBBI in Abingdon, VA where he was known as the "Brush Ape" on air. He also worked at WOPI in Bristol and finished his career in radio at WZAP 690 AM in Bristol where he acquired his love of southern gospel music.
Ray loved the Lord and would tell anyone who would listen, "There's nothing more important than getting your life right with the Lord." He was a member of Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Bristol, TN and played in their worship band until his health declined.
Ray was an accomplished musician, playing multiple instruments, including electric and upright bass, mandolin, and fiddle. He was even known to sing a song or two. During his early years as a musician he played with Eddie Skelton performing with Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. He has been a studio musician playing on multiple southern gospel albums. He obtained a goal of many musicians by playing on the Grand Ole Opry for several years in the 1960's as a member of the "Willis Brothers". During Ray's time with the group, they had a number 1 song entitled "Give Me Forty Acres and I'll Turn This Rig Around" which landed them an international tour including shows in Germany and Japan. He was also most proud they were asked to play at Carnegie Hall in NYC.
He is preceded in death by: his mother, Sally Barr Hutchins and his father, William (Will) Eldridge Hutchins; five brothers, Maurice, Sam, Frank, John, and Lloyd; and three sisters Mamie Larkins, Floy Martin, and Joda Hutchins.
Left to cherish his memory are the mother of his children, Mildred Tiller Hutchins; son Gregory Ray and wife Gayle; daughters, Christina Hutchins-Baldwin and husband Mark, and Mitzi Graham and husband Joe; Grand-children Greg Jr and wife Lauren, Taylor Hutchins, Chaney Graham-Bass and husband Andy, Blakely and Aebri Graham, and Hayley, Harper and
Heath Baldwin; Great grand-children Lincoln, Declan, and Grayson Hutchins and Renley Bass. Several nieces and nephews and countless friends and colleagues.
The family of Ray Hutchins will receive friends from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM Sunday, May 12, 2019 at Morris Baker Funeral Home. A committal service will be conducted at 10:00 AM on Monday, May 13, 2019, at Mountain Home National Cemetery. Family and friends are asked to gather at the cemetery entrance by 9:50 to go in procession.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family via www.morrisbaker.com
Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services 2001 E. Oakland Ave., Johnson City, is serving the Hutchins family. (423)282-1521.