Wilhelmina “Willa” (Olson) Ray

Date of Birth

January 28, 1955

Date of Death

March 22, 2018

Wilhelmina “Willa” Ray, resident of Big Bear City, California, battled ovarian cancer for several years prior to her death on March 22nd, 2018 at age 63. She went to meet Jesus with her family surrounding her.

Willa was born on January 28th, 1955 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and spent her early years in Seattle, Washington. The family later moved to Santa Barbara, where Willa attended San Marcos High School (class of ’73). She enjoyed cheerleading for the Royals, and was involved in many extra-curricular activities, including the Girl Scouts, participating in two service trips to Central America with Amigos de las Americas, where she administered immunizations to hundreds of children. After marrying her high school sweetheart Mark Ray, both graduated from Westmont College. Willa earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Development from California State University Northridge in 1983, and was assistant co-director at Sherman Oaks Day Care Center for four years. After homeschooling the couple’s five children and simultaneously directing Light House Christian School for over a decade, Willa was diagnosed with cancer, but continued her teaching career for a year in Budapest, Hungary.

Willa is survived by her husband Mark of 42 years; her mother Patricia (“Patty”) Olson; her five children Linnea Hopper (Jeremy), Stefan Ray (Jen), Lukas Ray (Lauren), Osten Ray, and Jonas Ray; five siblings, Johanna Dorr (Mark), Chuck Olson (Laura), John Olson, Andrea Kulberg (Eric) and Doug Olson (Andrea); and four grandchildren, Cecelia, Johannes, Ruven and Tessa.

Willa will be remembered most for her giving spirit, artistic giftedness, strong Christian faith, ability to impart the Gospel to others, fortitude, zest for life, and the ability to find a way to love all those who crossed her path.

Charitable gifts may be given to Bear Valley Hospice LLC or Apostles Church Missions of Santa Barbara. A celebration of Willa’s life will be held on April 14th at 2pm at Apostles Church, 4485 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara.


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