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Riverside woman turns 100

September 27, 2012

Born Sept. 17, 1912, family and friends of Eva May "Sis" Wray celebrated her century mark this month. She was born and raised in Lompoc, Calif., north of Santa Barbara.
Living through the Depression, she developed a strong work ethic, said her son, John Wray. "She saved money and gave to those in need.
"She's a real humble person who always stays in the background," he said. "She's a gracious giver but does not receive well.
"At a family party, Mom could be found in the kitchen, preparing the meal," Wray said. "Family is very important to her."
During WWII, Eva worked in a defense plant in Los Angeles.
"She remembers the weird air raid when Los Angeles was all blacked out and cannons were bursting through the night," her son said. "At that time, there was a hyped sense of insecurity."
In 1945, Eva met and later married Ollie Wray in Los Angeles. The couple then moved to Riverside, Idaho.
They worked with Ollie's sister and brother-in-law, Vella and Glen Foreman. The two couples ran the Thomas Mercantile, a grocery store and cafe.
The cafe had 16 or 18 stools, said Wray's daughter, JoAnn Hunt.
"Mom ran the cafe," said son John Wray. "When Everett Goodwin campaigned for Bingham County Sheriff, he had a megaphone attached to the roof of his vehicle. He would go be the cafe and call out, 'Eva, save me a piece of pie.'"
"My dad was a school teacher who turned to construction work," Wray said. "He helped build the old Snake River High School that is now the junior high."
Because the weather affected construction, the couple returned to California in the 1950s. In 1968, they turned their eyes north and returned to Riverside. They remodeled their home in Riverside and moved back into it.
The couple raised an acre of garden and donated the proceeds to nursing homes, their son said. They also liked fishing.
"After Dad died in 1986, Mom did not have that much to keep her going," her son said. "I suggested she volunteer for the Foster Grandparents Program. [Wray was Director of Nursing at State Hospital South for 25 years.]
Eva worked as a foster grandparent for about 20 years, retiring from this program about five years ago.
Eva has two children—daughter JoAnn and son John.
JoAnn graduated from Snake River High School in Moreland in 1952. John graduated from the new Snake River High School about 20 years later.
"We both had the same high school principal—Wilson Harper," said John.
Eva grew up with six siblings—three girls and three boys. She and her younger sister, Edwina (Babe), are still living. Babe is 98, soon to be 99.
"My sister, JoAnn, has lived with my mom for the past five years," John said. "She is spelled by her daughter, Julie, when she returns to her home in California for a needed break.
"They have made it possible for my mother to stay in her own home," he said.
"They watch football and politics—my mom's passions," John said. "Mom's the best mom and grandmother in the world."

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