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1936 Raymond (Ray) 2024

Raymond (Ray) Lee Simonsen

June 6, 1936 — April 6, 2024

Harlingen, Texas

Raymond (Ray) Lee Simonsen, 87, Major USMC (Ret), of Harlingen, Texas, passed away at his home on Saturday, the 6th of April.
Ray was born on June 6, 1936 in Portland, Oregon and joined the Marine Corps at 18 years old. He went on to serve in the Vietnam War as a KC-130 Aircraft Commander, earning the Vietnam Service Medal with Device, Vietnam Service Award with 8 stars, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, Air Medal with 10 stars, and others. He was a Major at the time of his retirement. 

He received a Bachelors in Science from Western Michigan in Physics and German, completed his Masters in Science in Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and pursued his PhD in Education at Texas A&M University. Ray was a lifelong learner who never encountered a puzzle he couldn’t solve. He loved the Washington Post crossword puzzle, making his family wait while he read every historical plaque he came across, and confusing waitstaff as he wrote out complex mathematical equations on restaurant napkins.
After his retirement from the military, Ray settled into a career in education, first at Charles County Community College in Maryland, where he met his wife, Joyce. They moved together to south Texas, where he worked at the Marine Military Academy before beginning 30 years of service at the University of Texas, Brownsville as a tenured professor of mathematics. Few people have been as dedicated to teaching as Ray; he was always willing to share his time and love for not only mathematics, but his family, country, and God.

He was preceded in death by his brother Dennis (Denny) Fryrear, father Raymond Arnold Simonsen, stepfather Brooks Fryrear, and mother Phyllis (Kirkpatrick) Fryrear. 

He is survived by his wife, Joyce (McCall) Simonsen, daughters Traci Erin Beckwith-Winget (John), Kelly Bridget Yeatman, and Elizabeth Rose Simonsen, grandchildren Shelby, Blake, Kirsten, Joshua, John Lee Brooks, Eric, Ashley, and Jessica, and 7 great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, close family friend Rebeca Coronado, and a host of cats, grandcats and granddogs. 

A funeral service will take place on Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. at First Methodist Church of Harlingen.  Ray will be laid to rest at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests a contribution to the Quentin Hale Scholarship Fund at First Methodist Church.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Raymond (Ray) Lee Simonsen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Thursday, April 11, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

First Methodist Church of Harlingen

321 East Harrison Avenue, Harlingen, TX 78550

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