Charles Raymond Connors (Ray) concluded a rich and happy mortal life on May 10, 2022. He passed away peacefully at home after facing more than a decade of steady decline from atypical Parkinson’s Disease/Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) with grit and humility. Ray and his family are grateful his once vibrant energy, voice, and spirit have moved on to new eternal adventures.
Ray was born November 30, 1943 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Charles Edward Connors and Mary Virginia McIntosh Connors. Named after his father, Charles Raymond was always “Raymond” to his parents and immediate family; the world came to know him as Ray. Ray’s dad enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944 and served in the Pacific. Ray and his mom lived with her parents in Salt Lake City during that time. After discharge, the three moved into what became the family’s lifelong home on Salt Lake’s westside. He lived a happy, typical 1950s childhood there, welcoming his brothers, Kenneth, Michael, and Jeffrey, and making countless friends. His hours and years were filled with bicycles, baseball, swimming, camping, fishing, and hunting. Ray graduated from West High School where he won honors on the swim and cross-country teams. His drafting class at West opened the door to his 47-year career in civil engineering.
Ray met his future wife, Linda, in elementary school. They started dating his senior year. They quickly became best friends and sweethearts. Ray was well-groomed, talkative, and fun. Linda especially loved his perfectly manicured hands that were just the right size for holding. After graduation, Ray turned his part-time drafting and surveying job into full-time work. Ray had another early infatuation…one with cars. He purchased his first muscle car (a ‘59 Impala) and started drag racing. Within two years he turned the Impala over for a ’62 Corvette and then a ’63 Ford Galaxy. Ray joined the Utah National Guard’s Company C of the 1457th Engineering Battalion in 1964. He enjoyed his years in the Guard and still stays in contact with friends from that time. Ray proposed to Linda when he returned from basic training. A beautiful garden evening was the setting for their wedding in July 1965. They moved to Bountiful where Ray was employed and built their lives there for 55 years. In 2020 they moved to a new, more accessible home in South Weber. The decision was well-timed. Ray lost his mobility and voice during the Covid lockdown. He both fought and humbly accepted each decline. He felt blessed and very grateful for new and old friendships, neighbors, and caring medical professionals who strengthened and brightened his days through it all.
Ray loved his family. He was a faithful and supportive husband and a caring and dedicated son, father and grandfather. Despite having many friends and many interests, Ray made his family a priority, building his life around the needs of his parents, wife, and children. Ray loved to tease and teach Linda. They were near-constant companions. They played together and worked together at home. He taught her to golf and fish, to target-shoot and ski, to use tools and mow the lawn. She was his right-hand lady, and she is now grateful for the skills he taught. Sons Michael and David were so welcomed by Ray and Linda when they joined the family after a wait of seven years. Ray loved to tease and teach and play with his boys, too. Vacations were always a family affair. A good athlete himself, Ray spent countless hours coaching or supporting his sons and their friends in community and church activities. He volunteered as coach or staff in soccer, basketball, and football for over twelve years. He occasionally took the boys on work outings so they could see the world in which he worked. Ray helped his sons prepare for missions and encouraged them to discover their potentials. He truly admired and appreciated their noteworthy accomplishments, community service, love, and support. As a daughter-in-law and grandchildren and great-grandchildren joined the family, nothing brought a bigger smile to Grandpa Ray’s face than spending time with them. He enjoyed traveling to California and New York for visits, taking them boating or hiking, teasing them, playing hide-a-coin and pulling it out from behind their ears, and snuggling with the little ones as he encouraged them to take a “snoozer.”
Ray was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Attendance in his youth centered around the opportunity to play basketball at the Harold B Lee Hall on Salt Lake’s west side. Marriage brought a change of heart that steadily turned to strong testimony and devotion. Among his Church callings, Ray looks back at his time serving as a Stake Seventy and in the Orchard 6th Ward Bishopric with great fondness. He enjoyed working with young people. He had a deep love for the temple, serving in the Salt Lake Temple in the 1980s and with Linda as an ordinance worker in the Bountiful Utah Temple after retirement. They were called to serve in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission from 2012-2013. Ray was placed over the cars in the mission office – fitting. Ray and Linda were blessed with giving and receiving trust, unconditional love, and lasting friendship from members, investigators, and over 300 wonderful young and senior missionaries. They returned to Utah with the desire to serve another full-time mission. Instead, his array of nuisance symptoms led to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, later classified as a rarer neurodegenerative disease, MSA. Ray was grateful he could volunteer one day a week along with Linda at the Kaysville Bishop’s Storehouse for two years after returning from Georgia. While assisting sister missionaries with a vacillating investigator in Georgia, Ray spoke a few simple words that enabled the Spirit to commit her to baptism. He looked at her and simply said, “You know it’s true.” Those unpretentious words also describe Ray’s testimony and heart. He knew the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. He had experienced that mighty change of heart. His testimony did not require elaboration. It sustained him through happiness, through trials, and to the end. In his last years, when Ray could no longer speak, he wept. Those humble tears were powerful. They were Ray’s way of sharing his testimony and love for the Savior, his love for the people surrounding him, and his gratitude for a good life.
Ray loved to work. His first job was selling newspapers on Salt Lake’s Main Street as a young teenager. His drafting led him to the civil engineering field, and by the time he retired in 2009 he had traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada in execution and pursuit of varied projects. Ray never complained about getting up to work, and he often held a second job to make ends meet or learn a new skill. Work was a place to learn and to be with people. Ray was outgoing and made friends easily. From his early years of drafting and surveying for a small engineering company, his career expanded into design, project lead, management, small business ownership, and business development. With his knack for finding opportunity and connecting people, Ray found his real niche in helping businesses and people succeed. Ray looked back with pride and appreciation for the many mentors and associates he worked alongside over the years. He was deeply grateful for them. If you are reading this, he hopes you know that. Ray could tell endless colorful stories of first-hand experiences surveying, designing, or working with others in special places, often at the beginning stages of development and before the areas were discovered by the masses. Here’s a sampling: In Utah, Wasatch Front municipal infrastructure, Flaming Gorge roads and campgrounds, Bloomington and Stansbury Park master plans and golf course design, Moab area roads and remediation, Carbon County coal mines, and Natural Bridges solar array. Frigid winter mine surveys in Minnesota and Idaho. Resorts and coal and gold mines in Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. Nuclear remediation in New Jersey, Idaho, Utah and Arizona. And in Alberta, Canada, tar sand oil extraction. Ray’s expertise included land and solar and pipeline design; traditional, aerial, hydrologic, and computer survey and drafting; project management; industrial product and equipment sales; and business negotiations in multiple disciplines. He was a longtime member of the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute, a non-profit scholarship organization, and helped organize and present at several regional and international professional conferences. All that said, Ray’s career was interesting and satisfying. Lucky man!
Ray loved to DIY, and he loved to play. Not a week went by that Ray didn’t complete an improvement project on the home or yard or a car. The lawn was green and manicured. He was a good and helpful neighbor and friend. Ray had a tool for most everything and kept a tidy workbench. When it was time to play, Ray had a tool for that, too. What can you do and where can you go with a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a camper, trailer, or boat? With rifles, fishing poles, golf clubs, snow and water skis, and scuba gear? Ray explored as many possibilities as he could over the years to use his tools and toys and his healthy body. Ray and Linda explored life, nature, and North America together and with their boys, friends, and family. Their travels took them from Alaska to the Bahamas and Key West, from Nova Scotia to Cabo San Lucas. Ray especially loved Yellowstone and Utah’s mountains and red rock corners. He and Linda’s first trip to Lake Powell happened at lake levels like today, before Bullfrog had a true boat ramp; they visited the Canadian Rockies just 5 years after marriage; Ray and business associates flew into Icy Bay, AK by bush plane to dredge for gold off a sandy beach in the 1980s. The odometer turned constantly over the years as Ray water-skied and snow-skied on the same day, dived the waters of Cozumel and Utah’s Fish Lake, played golf courses across the U.S., accumulating four holes-in-one, and amassed a treasure of memories and cherished friendships. Like his professional associates, Ray held deep love and appreciation for those friends who played and explored the world with him. You know who you are.
Ray’s preferred travel mode and tool was driving in his own vehicle, most often to the music of Neil Diamond, John Denver, Johnny Cash or another artist in his array of 60’s and 70s tapes and CDs. Ray loved cars and trucks and purchased nearly sixty during his lifetime. They were always clean and polished. He never seriously damaged a car he drove. He logged over two million miles behind the wheel for pleasure and work, visiting every landbound state and Canadian province. Right to the end Ray would perk up at the suggestion of a ride and indicate he was up for another drive to New York or Alaska or Nova Scotia. David introduced his dad to Toyota Land Cruisers in 1998, and it was not long before Ray purchased and modified one of his own to enjoy the world of slickrock and off-roading. Ray’s hours of friendship and adventures in the Intermountain West with the Land Cruiser community and Wasatch Cruisers were a highlight of his last two decades…along with fishing excursions to favorite places like Strawberry, Flaming Gorge, and Alaska.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Virginia, his brother, Kenneth Edward Connors, his close friends and in-laws, O’Dell and Edith Petersen and Thyce Petersen, and many dear friends and extended family. He is survived by his best friend and wife of 56 years, Linda; son and daughter-in-law, Michael Christopher and Wendy Witt Connors; their children, Faith Connors, Hailey Holt and great-grandchildren, Kaia and Wade, Noah Connors, Ammon Connors, and Elizabeth Connors; son, David Matthew Connors, brothers, Michael William Connors and Jeffrey Lynn (Kathy) Connors; brother-in-law, Ron (Leslie) Petersen; sister-in-law, Harriet Petersen; and many loved nieces, nephews, and extended family. Ray leaves behind his gratitude and love to the many wonderful family members, associates, and friends who touched his life.
The family expresses their appreciation to Shanna, Lindsi, Stephanie and the team at Northern Utah Rehabilitation Hospital and the many other competent and caring medical professionals, friends, and associates who helped Ray and the family navigate his illness. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages you to educate yourself about neurodegenerative diseases (they are more common than cancer) and make a donation to a charity of your choice that will bless others through research, healing, or serving.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon on Saturday May 14, at the LDS Orchard Stake Center 3599 Orchard Drive, Bountiful, Utah. A viewing will be held Friday evening from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 1941 North Main St, Farmington, Utah and Saturday morning from 10:45-11:45 a.m. at the church prior to services.
For those wishing to attend virtually, the service will be streamed live at 12:00 pm on Russon Mortuary and Crematory Facebook Page using the following link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/russonmortuary/
Services will also be streamed under this obituary beginning at 12:00 noon on Saturday.