Ray Oxendine of Maxton, NC, member of the Catawba College Class of 1961 and former Catawba head coach for baseball and assistant coach for football, passed peacefully on June 7, 2022 at the age of 85. Ray Oxendine exemplified the best of Catawba College. He fully lived out the tenets on the college seal: scholarship, character, culture and service. His name is one of the beloved, legendary names of the Catawba campus, and the campus community mourns his passing.
Born in 1937, Ray grew up in Robeson County NC, a proud member of the Lumbee Tribe. Upon graduating from Pembroke High School in Pembroke, NC, he joined the U.S. Army. He served with the 82nd and 11th Airborne Division, deploying to Germany for two years and earning his Army paratrooper wings.
He went on to Catawba College and excelled in every sport he played, lettering in baseball and football for four years and in basketball for one year, serving as captain of both the football and baseball teams, and winning the Aycock Athletics Medal for best overall athlete in his junior year. He was also the Senior Class President for the Class of 1961. Upon graduating from Catawba, he sought his master’s degree at Appalachian State University, intending to pursue a master’s in physical education. However, on advice from Coach Sam Moir at Catawba, he earned a master’s in public school administration and went on to a successful career for more than 30 years as a teacher and high school administrator, while still continuing to coach much of that time. He also earned a post-graduate education specialist degree at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Ray eventually returned to Catawba as head baseball coach and assistant football coach. He was named the Carolinas Conference baseball coach of the year twice, and was inducted into the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame in 1984. He was also honored with Catawba’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005.
Among his other recognitions, he was inducted into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2002, the NC American Legion Hall of Fame, and the Robeson County Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Principal of the Year for Montgomery County Schools in 1985, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Principal of the Year for 1992-1993.
Upon his retirement, Ray continued to seek ways to serve others. He went to his local Red Cross office to volunteer following Hurricane Katrina, and was immediately deployed to Louisiana to organize and supervise the often over-crowded shelters full of New Orleans victims of the storm. After that, he then volunteered in North Carolina following the tornados and hurricanes hitting the state, including Hurricane Irene in 2012. A resident of Maxton, NC was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Maxton, and active in civic life as a member of the Town of Maxton Board of Commissioners and the Town of Maxton Library Board.
Ray is survived by his longtime companion, Lynne Morgan; his daughters, Beth (Chris) Snyder of Mandeville, Louisiana, Susan (Dean) Valentine of Los Angeles, California, 8 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all of whom he was immensely proud. He was the brother of Louis Oxendine, Magnolia Lowry, Ruth Hurnevich, and the late Thomas Oxendine, Robert Oxendine, Earl Hughes Oxendine and Joseph Oxendine, Catawba Class of 1952, who later served as interim president of Catawba College.
His daughters request that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Catawba College for the Oxendine Family area at Newman Park, the baseball stadium where both Ray and his brother Joe played baseball at Catawba College. Any donation is appreciated. His family and his Catawba family look to keep the legacy, the teachings, and the enduring memory of Ray Oxendine alive, while continuing the connection to the Native American community as well as diverse athletes around the world.
Donations may be made via the following link at catawba.edu/rayoxendine or alternatively by check via mail to Catawba College, 2300 W Innes Street Salisbury, NC 28144 with “Ray Oxendine” written in the memo line.