May 18, 2007
Before we had a campus, faculty or students,
C. Ray Stokes, who was hired in April 1969 to raise money for Texas’ first and only osteopathic medical school – which existed only on paper at the time – died May 11 at the age of 93. When Stokes retired as college historian and curator of special collections for our library in 1990 (three years before we became the University of North Texas Health Science Center), he was known as “TCOM’s Man of Many Hats,” having served as the founding director of development, business manager, purchasing agent, public relations director and registrar. He was administrative secretary and newsletter editor for the TCOM Alumni Association from its founding in his home in 1974 until 1989. He logged more than 5,000 hours as a volunteer at the Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas, which he made sure everybody knew was the “birthplace” of TCOM. Within a week after the hospital closed in October 2004, he began volunteering in our Patient Care Center… still assuring both young and old that they were in the best of hands. And in 2005, despite reluctant reliance on a wheelchair, he put on his black tie and tux to be a guest of honor at TCOM’s 35th Birthday Gala. He planned the ceremony for our first 18 TCOM graduates in 1974, and he was in the audience when our Health Science Center’s 3,644th graduate crossed the stage in 2006.
Ray Stokes’ personalized license plate read “TCOM-1.” It signified his status as the school’s first employee… and TCOM’s status in his heart. He was considered by many to be the medical school’s – and the Health Science Center’s – most passionate and vocal advocate. Some of his proudest honors were the TCOM Founders’ Medal, an associate lifetime membership in the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association and the rank of executive director emeritus of the TCOM Alumni Association.
He shared many more tributes with TCOM’s second employee and constant companion… his wife, Edna, who survives him. Among them, the naming of a conference room (EAD-810) and the establishment of the Ray and Edna Stokes Scholarship Fund in 2000, which alumni seeded with $48,000 in donations.
Stokes didn’t just live the history of TCOM, he also documented it. First, in a collection of oral histories that he recorded in interviews with, as he put it, “everybody that had anything to do with the school.” He recorded his own memories in 1988. All of these historic interviews, now on CDs, are available in the library.
In 1990, the year Stokes retired, “Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine: The First Twenty Years” was published. Stokes collaborated with Fort Worth author Judy Alter, herself a member of an osteopathic family, to tell the story of our unique institution at the request of TCOM’s president at the time, Dr. David Richards. This informally written book, just 124 pages long, is also available in the library.
Stokes spent 38 years talking and writing about us, not about himself… although, like the organized public relations professional that he was, he wrote his own obituary. It appeared in the Star-Telegram May 13.
University of North Texas Health Science Center
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