Obituary: Dr. D. Ray Booker
Dr. D. Ray Booker passed peacefully from this life on Monday, August 5, 2019, due to complications from a stroke and a long battle with Parkinson’s at the age of 84 years. Born November 26, 1934 in Willow, Oklahoma, Ray was the oldest of five children born to Geneva and Ray Booker.
Ray was an accomplished pilot, engineer, meteorologist and entrepreneur and he excelled in almost every venture he encountered. After graduating from Antlers High School, he earned a mechanical engineering degree at Oklahoma A&M College (Oklahoma State University) where he was active in the Air Force ROTC and the Baptist Student Union.
After graduating college, Ray was an engineer at Chance Vought Aircraft in Grand Prairie, Texas before becoming a second lieutenant with the Air Force. He was sent to Pennsylvania State University for training, where he received a Master’s Degree and PhD, both in meteorology. During his time at Penn State, Booker was a television meteorologist and developed and taught the first course in television weather forecasting. He wrote a severe storm paper based on his master’s thesis, which was selected as the most significant scientific contribution at the American Meteorological Society Severe Storms Conference held in Norman, Oklahoma.
After completing his PhD at Penn State University, he returned to Oklahoma to launch his first business, Weather Science, Inc. and later joined KWTV in Oklahoma City as one of the first professional meteorologists on television. Other businesses he formed included Aeromet, Inc. (formerly L-3 Aeromet), Aviation Technologies, Inc., and Metrodata Systems, Inc.
Booker was an active supporter of the Oklahoma State University Foundation, serving as its Chairman of the Board of Directors. Ray’s generosity was beyond his alma mater and he was dedicated to making the Tulsa community a better place. He was an active board member and officer of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, the Tulsa Ballet and the Tulsa Signature Symphony. He also greatly enjoyed his membership at Southern Hills Country Club.
In 1995, Ray was awarded the OSU CEAT Melvin R. Lohmann Medal, presented annually to an individual for outstanding engineering achievement. He was named Distinguished Alumnus from Pennsylvania State University in 2000. In 2001, he received Oklahoma State University’s Distinguished Alumni. In 2012, Ray was inducted into the Oklahoma State University Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed upon alumni. Ray and his wife Linda endowed two scholarship funds and a professorship at OSU. He was a life member of the OSU Alumni Association. Booker Hall was named in his honor in 2005.
Ray was a voracious reader and a true intellectual. He lived a life full of adventure and enjoyed travel, music, theater, ballet and college sports. He was as loyal and true of an OSU Cowboy fan that you could ever hope to find. He loved being with his family and friends who brought him such joy throughout his life. His presence, kindness, and generosity for others will be deeply missed by all those who had the good fortune to know him. Above all, he was a family man.
Ray is survived by his wife Linda Booker of Jenks, OK; one brother, Les Booker and wife Beth of Oklahoma City OK; two sisters, Kaye Leach and husband Eddie of North Richland Hills, TX and Janice Booker of Oklahoma City, OK; three children, Karen Chism and husband Cliff of Haskell, OK, Garry Booker and wife Lisa of Tulsa, OK, and Renee Rhodes and husband Andy of Stillwater, Ok; two step-children, Michelle Woford and husband Kirk of Oklahoma City, OK, and Craig Parrish and wife Amy of Oklahoma City, OK; twelve grandchildren, Christopher Cline, Bradley Cline, William Booker, Alexander Booker, Elyssa Claxton, Brandon Rhodes, Rachael Rhodes, Madelyn Rhodes, Emily Ellis, Kate Ellis, Jack Ellis and Lucy Parrish.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his wife Earlene Hobbs Booker; sister, Susan Booker, son Larry Booker and granddaughter Sabra Cline.
Ray’s funeral service was held at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum on August 9, 2019 and entrusted to the care of Hargrove-Marker Funeral & Cremation Service, Jenks, Oklahoma.