Like each and every one of you, I have had my ups and downs the past few months. I am naturally an early riser unlike the rest of my family which gives me a chance for a few quiet moments to reflect each day. Much of my reflection time the last week has been spent remembering Ray Hoobler. Ray, a long-time friend of the Pigeon River Country, passed away in New York on April 29 after battling COVID-19.

I first met Ray in 2016 when he called the OCF to inquire about starting a fund to benefit Vanderbilt students. Ray and his wife Frances established the Vanderbilt Fund in the hopes of giving students from Vanderbilt an opportunity to expand their horizons in any form of higher education they should choose. It took several meetings and phone calls to iron out the exact details of the fund, and with each appointment, Ray displayed a real desire to inspire kids from Vanderbilt. Ray, like all donors, had a charitable wish and I, as executive director, had the privilege of learning the details of his wish and connecting him in ways to make it come true.

Losing Ray has reminded me that I am not only blessed to have a job, but extra blessed to be in the field of philanthropy. As we prepare to announce the 2020 winner of the Vanderbilt College Incentive program, I can clearly see the smile on Ray’s face under his white mustache and hear the kindness in his voice.

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Fund, click here.

To learn more about Ray Hoobler, click here.