Dannie Ray: A life's passion

Dannie Ray, Columbia State custodian
Photo Caption: 
Dannie Ray, Columbia State facility services custodian.

Dannie Ray, Columbia State facility services custodian and Columbia State alumnus, has had a passion for woodworking since he was a teenager, and he’s not afraid to share his creations with the world. Ray goes to cub scouts, girl scouts and schools throughout the community and teaches them how to build toys. His toys are even sold online, on a Facebook paged titled Toys of Yesteryear.

Wood carving from Dannie Ray.
Photo Caption:
Wood carving by Dannie Ray.

“I’ve shipped toys all the way to Germany,” Ray said. “I’ve shipped to almost every state in the union, including Hawaii - I’ve even shipped to Canada.”

Ray has worked at Columbia State for eight years, and through his woodworking skills has become an important part of the college. He closed off where the drinking fountain used to be in the green room and crafted shelves. He handcrafted the mace that is carried during Commencement in honor of the college’s 50th Anniversary, as well as the stand for the mace. Ray crafted the bat for the grand slam award given during employee awards. He is currently working on two display cases for the Williamson Campus for the shovel and hammer from the groundbreaking, and floor display cases for the Pryor Building. He’s also going to make a shelf for the Pryor Art Gallery.

“The biggest accomplishment for me at Columbia State is being able to build the projects that people have come to ask me to do,” Ray said. “To me, it’s an honor to be asked.”

Dannie Ray is a welcoming face at Columbia State for the faculty and students, and he hopes to be remembered that way.

“I would like to be remembered as someone that always tried to maintain a smile,” Ray said. “If I can brighten someone’s day up, then I’ve made my day. I’ve had so many students come up to me on graduation and tell me that if it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t have stayed in college. I like to be known as someone that tried to help.”

After Ray’s time at Columbia State, he plans to do a lot of traveling with his camper and plans to go to more arts and crafts festivals to sell his wood carvings.

Ray has four sons, eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is a resident of Ethridge, Tennessee and is a native of Harlan County, Kentucky. Ray is alumni of Vincennes University and Valparaiso University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in tool and dye.

Dannie Ray Columbia State

Dannie Ray wood work
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Dannie Ray's Carvings.

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