Billy Ray Smith

Billy Ray Smith

Billy Ray Smith, 89, of Columbia, formerly of Midland, Michigan, died Sept. 17, 2020, after a brief illness.

Ray was born Jan. 31, 1931, in Purdin, Misosuri, to Roy and Ida Smith. He was the youngest of eight children and was preceded in death by his parents and seven siblings, their spouses and some of his nieces and nephews.

Ray is survived by his wife, Jane (Rutter); sons Michael (Lisa) Smith and Jeffrey (Sherolyn) Smith; daughter Pamela (Todd) Smith Bellaver; 10 grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Always going by his middle name, Ray graduated from Brookfield High School and attended Missouri Valley College on a full chemistry scholarship, of which he was immensely proud. After he finished his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, he attended MU, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in agricultural chemistry.

While at MU, Ray met the love of his life on a blind date, Jane Rutter (Smith). In 1954, they married and shortly after, he was drafted and left to serve the Army in the Korean War. When he returned, he completed his master’s degree at MU.

Ray and Jane then moved to West Lafayette, Indiana, where he completed a master’s degree in organic chemistry at Purdue University. Yes, he loved school.

After graduating from Purdue, Ray accepted a position as a research chemist at Dow Chemical Co.

Jane, Ray and their infant son, Mike, packed up and moved to Midland, Michigan. Within five years, Jeff and Pam (Smith) Bellaver were born. The Smiths stayed in Midland for 44 years while they raised their family.

When he retired, Ray and Jane enjoyed many years of retirement. They loved to travel, sometimes with their camper and eventually without. They also loved playing cards, riding their bikes, hiking in state and national parks, getting involved in local organizations and clubs, volunteering, gardening, working in the yard, visiting with friends and family and spending time with their 10 grandchildren.

Ray’s memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 27 at Memorial Funeral Home. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service will be attended by family and invited guests only.

In lieu of flowers, Ray asked that donations can be made in his name to the American Cancer Society.

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at

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