Ray recipient of Lifetime Achievement honor

Published 7:46 am Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gary Ray is many things to many people: a businessman, a church member and a neighbor.

To members of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, he’s the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ray’s name is most commonly associated with Hormel Foods Corp., where he was employed for over 40 years. Before his retirement in 2008, he worked as the company’s president of Protein Business Units, but served in many capacities for the corporation through the years.

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While the company still plays a large role in his life, Ray has taken a hands-on approach when it comes to community involvement. Along with his wife, Pat, Ray has dedicated time over the years to involvement with Austin Catholic schools, Austin Catholic churches, Austin Medical Center, Community Bank, the YMCA and the Hormel Foundation, among others.

Throughout his time, he’s shown the qualities and dedication to his profession and community worthy of the Lifetime Achievement honor.

In a speech given Wednesday to chamber members, Ray highlighted the importance of giving back to a community that has been important to he and his family, along with the company he worked for.

“Of all the places I’ve seen, and all the places I could go, Austin is the place I want to be,” he said.

Ray acknowledged that while Hormel plays an important role in the community, he sees the community as playing an important role for Hormel.

The way Ray explained it, a community is made up of a number of threads — roughly 23,000 in Austin’s case.

Craig Johnson, a friend of Ray’s, introduced Ray Wednesday as the new recipient of the award. With children who grew up together, Johnson recalled times Ray proved himself as, not only a great business man, but a fantastic father and neighbor, as well.

“Ask anyone who works with Gary, and they’ll tell you he’s a really nice guy,” Johnson said.

Ray is the ninth person to receive the chamber’s lifetime achievement award. He directly follows Jack Thill, who was given the honor in 2009.

Award recipients through the years

2002 Chuck Wilson
2003 Jerry Anfinson
2004 Kermit Hoversten
2005 Art Scherer
2006 Jerry Mohrfeld
2007 I.J. “Jim” Holton
2008 Bonnie Mogen
2009 Jack Thill
2010 Gary Ray