Updated Obituary for Thelma Bray


Thelma Bray, 100, of Pampa, passed away peacefully at her home on May 26, 2024.

Celebration of life memorial service will be 10:00 AM, Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the Carmichael-Whatley Colonial Chapel with John Curry, officiating. 

A private burial at Fairview Cemetery was held. 

Arrangements and burial are under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors and Crematory.

Thelma Bray was born in Hollene, New Mexico in 1923 and moved with her family to Pampa in 1933. Thelma had a twin sister Velma, another sister Juanita and a brother, Kenneth. 

Thelma graduated from Pampa High School in 1940 and attended West Texas State University until leaving to assist in the war effort in 1942. 

She attended a USAF radio school in Sayre, OK in 1942 then took a radio job at the Pampa Army Airfield. She later went to school at Oklahoma City University where she majored in Music.

Thelma was married in December 1944 to Clyde Allen Bray, Jr. whom she had met at West Texas State. Mr. Bray served in the Air Force in WWII as a B-17 pilot. Mr. Bray re-entered the Air Force during the Korean War was killed in 1951 in a car accident while coming home from his base in Great Falls, Montana. 

Thelma raised twin boys, Rod and Ron, and daughter Debbie, who was born in June 1952, 6 months after the death of her husband in December 1951. Thelma has 5 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.

Her son Rod lives in Conroe, Texas and her other son Ron is in Aurora, Colorado. Her daughter, Debbie, had lived with Thelma since 2015.

Thelma has been a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church in Pampa, serving in capacities as Sunday School teacher, youth director, and sang in the choir. While her daughter, Debbie, was still home, she helped organize and sponsor the “Truteens”, a girl’s service club like the Key Club for boys. 

With John Warner among others, she helped organize the “Gunnye Shack”, an entertainment center for teenagers.

After her children had left home, Thelma worked as a postal clerk at the Pampa Post Office for 24 years from 1975-1999. 

Despite working and raising a family, Thelma was still active in many civic and church activities.

Thelma was active in a number of organizations including Beta Sigma Phi, the Pampa Garden Club, 20th Century Cotillion, Altrusa, Salvation Army Advisory Board and Beautify Texas Council. She was very active in promoting Pampa including being on the Chamber of Commerce Tourism board and chairman of the Civic Development Committee.

In receiving the 2003 Pampa Co-Citizen of the Year award along with Mike Porter, she was recognized for her many contributions to Pampa over the years. Other awards include the 1976 U. S. Postal Service Bicentennial Award and the Golden Nail Golden Touch Award from the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce.

As chairman of the Civic Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, she organized the Festival of Christmas Trees and Gift Boutique.

She served as chairman of the 80th birthday celebration for Gray County.

Thelma has been active beautifying and promoting Pampa for years. As chairman of the Beautification Committee of the Pampa Garden Club, she originated the plans for the Hike and Bike Trail. She was one of the founders of the Pampa Area Foundation for Outdoor Art to provide for art and sculpture in parks and public places in Pampa. She also worked on creating the Art History Wall for the Texas Sesquicentennial.

Thelma had worked tirelessly since 1991 to promote the memory of Woody Guthrie in Pampa where the poet-lyricist and folk balladeer lived from 1929 to 1936. The former Harris Drug Store where Guthrie worked while in Pampa was acquired and became the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center due in large part to Thelma’s efforts. She was chairman and or active on the Board of Pampa’s Tribute to Woody Guthrie organization for a number of years. In 2001, she compiled her research on Woody Guthrie’s life and his

time in Pampa and wrote a book titled “Reflections: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie” which she self-published in 2001. She organized local musical tributes to Woody Guthrie starting in 1992 and until retiring from the Board in the early 2010s.

Thelma was active in the Pampa Army Airfield Reunion Association and Freedom Museum Boards. As a member of the Pampa Army Air Field Reunion Association, she helped organize the Pampa Army Air Field VFW Museum which is now known as Freedom Museum, U.S.A. 

She was the first chairman and organizer of the Hall of Fame banquet to honor significant contributions by those in the area in military service. She also helped organize the National B-25 Preservation Group. She served as Secretary of the Freedom Museum Board until about 10 years ago.

Thelma dedicated her time and her talents to these organizations to ensure that our military men and women are remembered and honored for their sacrifices to our Country. She is grateful for those of you who continue to serve and support the Freedom Museum and carry on its mission and heritage.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and siblings.

Her survivors include her three children, Rodney Bray, Conroe, TX, Ron Bray, Aurora, CO, and Debbie Bray, Pampa, TX; grandchildren, Gregory Bray of Bethesda, MD, Timothy Bray of Sunnyvale, TX, Tara Ahearn, Parker, CO, Amber Van Schooneveld, Colorado Springs, CO, Christina Howard, Centennial, CO; great-grandchildren, Evan & Ethan Bray, of Sunnyvale, TX, Emma and Lucas Bray-Mathe, of Bethesda, MD, Alexandra & Avalon Van Schooneveld, Colorado Springs, Jett Ahearn, Parker CO; and other extended family.

In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center, 320 S. Cuyler St, Pampa, TX 79065, or the Freedom Museum 600 N. Hobart St, Pampa, TX 79065.

Please sign the online registry at www.carmichael-whatley.com