Tributes paid to Diss’ first mayor Jean Ray

Jean and Gerald Ray, pictured in 2008.
Jean and Gerald Ray, pictured in 2008.

A town councillor who served for 25 years and was the first mayor of Diss has died.

Jean Ray, who was 91, was also chairman of Diss Royal British Legion women’s section, which her mother had helped to found, and a poppy seller for 29 years.

First mayor of Diss Jean Ray. ANL-160202-145638001

First mayor of Diss Jean Ray. ANL-160202-145638001

This week she was remembered as a forthright person who spoke what she thought but never said it unkindly. “She was a strong-minded person who did not tolerate fools gladly but she was very kind and her aim was to help everyone in need. She never held grudges,” family friend Leslie Pegg said.

Mrs Ray, who was elected to the former Diss Urban District Council in 1969, was a town councillor from 1974-1999. She had twice served as chairman before the title of mayor was adopted in 1988-89, She was also secretary to three headmasters during 25 years at Diss Grammar School and Mr Pegg was amazed that she could recall all the former pupils when they asked if she remembered them. “She had a phenomenal memory for names,” he said.

Mrs Ray was born in Dickleburgh in 1924. In the Second World War while she was working at the former Depwade Rural District Council offices she became the fuel officer, overseeing the use of rationed fuels. Her late husband Gerald was a registrar of births, marriages and deaths and they had one daughter, Jane, who lives with her family in America. She was also a grandmother and great-grandmother. Mrs Ray was a regular visitor to America and celebrated her 90th birthday in America with her family.

Her commitment to the poppy selling was recognised in 2006 when she was presented with a brooch and certificate. “I enjoy the Poppy Appeal because I love meeting people every year,” she said. “I meet young people who generously come and put money in the box and it really does hearten me.”

She was a strong-minded person who did not tolerate fools gladly but she was very kind and her aim was to help everyone in need. She never held grudges

Leslie Pegg

Mrs Ray’s funeral took place at St Mary’s Church, Diss, last week.