Ray W. Christian
Mr. Ray W. Christian, of Glen Mills, PA and formerly of Altoona, PA and New Castle, DE, passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 24, 2011, at Maris Grove at Renaissance Gardens after an extended illness.
Born in Detroit, MI, on July 6, 1928, Mr. Christian was the son of the late Harry McFarland and Ida Winrick McFarland. He moved with his family as a young child to Pennsylvania and went through the public schools near Altoona. After graduation from high school, Mr. Christian enlisted in the U.S. Army and served two years. He then entered Penn State University, but was quickly called back into military service due to the Korean conflict. He proudly served as a sergeant at the 7th Army Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Christian earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Secondary Education in the area of mathematics.
His career began as a high school teacher in Harrisburg, PA, where he taught both algebra and trigonometry. Mr. Christian then went on to nearby Hollidaysburg High School, the school from which he graduated, where he taught mathematics and served four years as varsity baseball coach and won the league championship for three of the four years. After moving back to Altoona, he taught 8th grade mathematics and social studies for a year. While teaching in Pennsylvania, Mr. Christian earned his Master of Education Degree in Guidance and Psychology from Penn State University. He also earned additional credits in Administration and Supervision.
In 1958, Mr. Christian left his home state of Pennsylvania to accept a position in Milford, DE, as high school guidance counselor for two years, and then moved on to Georgetown to serve a year as Georgetown High’s principal. In 1961, he moved his family upstate to serve the next four years as assistant principal of the George Read Junior High School. His capabilities quickly surfaced, and in just four years, Mr. Christian moved into central administration as Administrative Assistant, and then later, Director of Business. In 1973, he became Superintendent of Schools for the New Castle Special School District which subsequently became the New Castle-Gunning Bedford School District.
When a Federal Court order led to the merging of all 11 school districts in Northern New Castle County, Mr. Christian was named Superintendent of Area IV which included the New Castle-Gunning Bedford and DeLaWarr Districts. After legislative action in 1981 formed the existing school districts in Northern New Castle County, he became the Superintendent of the then newly named Colonial School District where he remained until his retirement on June 30, 1990 after serving 37 years.
Mr. Christian served on various boards including the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, Delaware Police Athletic League, Delaware Association of School Administrators, Delaware Secondary School Athletic Association, Delaware School Boards Association (ex-officio), and the Board of Jobs for Delaware Graduates. He also served two terms as president of the Delaware Chief School Officers Association and was president of the New Castle County School Employees Credit Union. Mr. Christian represented Delaware as a delegate to the Secretary of Health and Human Service’s first conference for Youth on Drinking and Driving in March of 1983 in Washington, D.C. He had the distinct honor of being appointed to the New Castle County Vocational School Board by then Governor Castle and then re-appointed by then Governor Carper.
Mr. Christian was characterized as a man who placed high values on ethics and principles. He was therefore, actively involved in his church – The First Alliance Church in Hockessin. Mr. Christian shared his time and talents there serving as an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, superintendent, and member of the board.
He played an active role for many years in legislative matters. He worked diligently with other superintendents and board members to help bring about the passage of legislation important to the improvement of education for the children in Delaware. Because of his strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, Mr. Christian was instrumental in the development of the equalization formula for school financing.
As a superintendent of schools, he provided the kind of leadership during his career that is marked by an unequalled commitment to the students and staff he served. Mr. Christian did his best to hire and retain the most qualified people for each position – always looking for those who were dedicated to their craft. It was important to him that he led by example and he was dedicated to upholding strong work ethics such as conservative fiscal management, honesty, integrity, and an excellent attendance record. Mr. Christian never took a sick day during his 37 years of service. His commitment to the district lead to many education advances under his leadership such as a K-12 counseling program, greater emphasis on reading, five-year textbook replacement and review program, and the involvement at the district level in long-term planning.
In his rare leisure hours, Mr. Christian was an avid Detroit sports fan who loved cheering on the Lions, Redwings, Tigers, and Pistons. He also greatly enjoyed supporting William Penn High’s many athletic teams. Above all else, he was a devoted and loving husband, father, brother, grandfather, and great-grandfather who will deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his brother, Leonard Christian. Mr. Christian is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Alice M. Leonard Christian; children, Gerald R. Christian of Harrington, DE and Susan K. Mulrooney, and husband, Michael, of New Castle; sister, Rosemary DeWitte of Detroit, MI; 6 grandchildren, Stephanie Christian, Melissa Christian-Nefsey, Lindsay Christian, Mark Mulrooney, Shannon Mulrooney, and Sean Christian Mulrooney; and 2 great-grandchildren, Riley and Austin Nefsey.
A visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 from 5 until 7 pm at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 1000 N. DuPont Parkway, New Castle, DE. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 12 Noon at the First Alliance Church, 2145 Graves Road, Hockessin, DE. Interment will be held privately at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, DE.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be made to First Alliance Church at the address listed above or to Heartland Hospice, 5 Christy Drive, Suite 103, Chadds Ford, PA 19317.