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Ray Owen Hamel

Cheney Free Press of Cheney, Washington

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Ray Hamel, 76, a longtime Cheney resident, Eastern Washington University professor and former member of the City Council passed away June 25, 2016. He was born Oct. 29, 1939.

Ray's education began early and those values were reflected in all that he did during his lifetime. His commitment to education, to community and to family centered his life.

Growing up in Madison, Wis., he served on the Mayor' s Commission on Human Rights during his senior year in high school, and, as a college student at the University of Wisconsin, Ray was elected president of the student body.

From his grandmother he developed a love of music. From his grandfather and father he learned surveying and made use of that knowledge during his summer breaks. For 40 years he was an advocate for students and shared his love of learning with them.

Serving both the EWU and Cheney communities, Ray followed his belief that one should not sit on the sidelines commenting and complaining, but be involved in finding solutions. The Cheney City Council and the EWU Faculty Senate were just two areas where he made contributions.

While chairman of the Computer Science Department for 17 years, he oversaw the expansion of the program and participated in the design of the new computing and engineering building. Ray developed a course on ethics for computer science students and created a scholarship fund at the EWU Foundation. In recognition of his contributions to EWU, Ray was awarded the Trustees Medal in 2005.

In 1982, Ray took a summer break to bicycle 1,500 miles through nine states and provinces with his children. That would lead to numerous trips to other countries, introducing his children and grandchildren to the larger world.

As an exchange professor in Korea in 1988, Ray was recruited by the Korean Gymnastics Association to help them with the Seoul Olympics, including writing a letter informing South Africa gymnastics team that they would not be allowed to participate.

An avid listener of Spokane Public Radio, he believed in the work of the Union of Concerned Scientists, American Civil Liberties Union and Inland Land Trust. In recent years, the Parkinson's Resource Center of Spokane played an important role in his life.

Ray is survived by his wife Judy, daughter Jennifer (Norm), son Owen (Leah); grandchildren Josh, Katie, Kasdin and Arlo; brothers John (Sue) and David (Shelley) and sister Molly (David A.).

His family feels fortunate he received such loving care from the staff at Rockwood South Hill and hospice staff and volunteers.

Ray's life will be celebrated at Sutton Park in Cheney on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 2 p.m.

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Original Publication Date: July 14, 2016

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