Ray married his sweetheart, Carolyn Grace Miller, on Aug. 7, 1955 and they had recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. Out of this marriage they were blessed with five daughters: Melinda Lee, Monica Tibbetts Fryer (Colin), Cynthia Lyman (Tim), Shellee DeVore (Donn) and Megan Pepper (Bill). Ray was a wonderful father to their five daughters, and they were the apple of his eye, along with their 15 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
For 32 years, Ray and brother-in-law Hal Johnson, owned and operated Miller’s Clothing and Family Budget Clothing in Moab. After closing the stores in 1987, Ray went into real estate full time. He served as a Grand County Commissioner and on the Moab Area Travel Council board in the early 1980s.
Ray was a key player in the Sagebrush Rebellion in the ‘70s and ‘80s, appearing before congressional committees to protest BLM encroachment on the sovereign rights of state and local governments to manage roads and public lands within their jurisdiction.
Ray loved the Moab area, especially the desert, and was instrumental in setting the boundaries for Canyonlands National Park in the early 1960s. As plans for the park were being developed, Ray took several high-ranking government officials, including former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall on helicopter tours of the canyon country to show them places that he felt needed to be protected. Most of those places were included within the park boundaries. Ray was a keeper of the land, and believed in its multiple use, along with a diverse local economy. He seemed to know every rock and bush in his beloved red rock country, which he liked to call “God’s Country.” Ray loved spending time deer hunting, finding the jewels of the earth, and feeding his soul in “his church.”
Ray worked with the U.S. Geological Service to put the Jewel Tibbetts Arch near Dead Horse Point on the map because his mother had discovered it.
In recent years, Ray’s family stories were developed into the book “Last of the Robbers Roost Outlaws, Moab’s Bill Tibbetts,” written by Tom McCourt.
It’s been said the mold was broken with Ray Tibbetts — he was one of a kind, and there will never be another like him.
A celebration of life is planned for Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Red Cliffs Lodge, the Colorado Room, in Moab, Utah.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Ray Tibbetts Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.