Don passed away in his home surrounded by his family, Friday morning, Jan. 18, 2013 after a valiant and difficult struggle with cancer. He was seventy-three years old.
Don passed away in his home surrounded by his family, Friday morning, Jan. 18, 2013 after a valiant and difficult struggle with cancer. He was seventy-three years old. Born October 7, 1939 in Abilene, he was raised in Hutchinson, where he met and married his high-school sweetheart, Elizabeth Jane Stockton, on September 11, 1957. Over the next forty years and after their move to Dodge City, together they raised ten children together while he distinguished himself in his career as an insurance representative for American Fidelity Insurance (1966 to 2002). Pray is remembered by his friends and family for his gregarious personality (he never met a stranger), his enormous musical talent, and his commitment to his religious faith. He made his mark everywhere he went, leaving behind a stream of acquaintances from Kansas to California, England to Jamaica, who he considered friends. His great love for people was evident as he went about seeking out and giving to those who needed his friendship, his music, and his means. He was a generous man to his friends and to his family. Perhaps best known for his music, he formed his own country-western dance band in 1964, in which he sang and also played lead guitar. Later the band took the name Don Pray and the Nashville Sound, and he and his fellow band members traveled around the state of Kansas entertaining their growing fan base almost every weekend for twenty-six years. After he retired from both the band and his career with American Fidelity, he continued to delight—pro bono—residents in local retirement homes with his music for another eleven years in a new band, The Ford County Five. He was also a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and served in various capacities over the course of his life; however, he most loved working with the youth as a seminary teacher and as a Boy Scout leader. He and his family were sealed for eternity in the Provo, Utah Temple in 1976, two years after his baptism. His faith in God and in the Church remained strong throughout his life. Pray is survived by his wife, Jane; his ten children; forty-one grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and his sister, Karen Irvine. He was preceded in death by his brother, Bill Pray; his grandson, Michael Earl; and his great-granddaughter, Ellie Earl. The Pray family would like to thank the Hospice Care nurses, especially Carla Musslin and Sonja Strecker, for their tireless service to Don. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Burial will follow at Maple Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, January 21, at the church. Memorials to Don Pray Memorial Fund in care of Swaim Funeral Home. Thoughts and memories may be shared in the online guest book at www.swaimfuneralhome.com.