Keith Ray may be the definition of “well rounded.” He came to Lipscomb on music and drama scholarships, and he left for dental school as a student-athlete. In that time he also served as Student Government president and social club icon. He and his wife, Terry, have now sent their two sons through Lipscomb. Learn more about Keith from his conversation this week with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you compete for Lipscomb?
I competed from 1973-1975. Coach Joey Haines taught my weight training class my junior year, and he wanted some depth on his very talented, but small track and field team. Coach was hoping to develop a javelin thrower who could possibly win a few points at track meets as the No. 3 thrower, with optimistic hopes of throwing 135 feet. He taught me some valuable technique and the first time we went outside, I threw over 135 feet on the first attempt. Just a few weeks later I won my rookie meet, throwing more than 180 feet.
What degrees have you earned?
- Lipscomb University – Chemistry, B.A.; 1975
- College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky - D.M.D.; 1979
- Pediatric Dentistry Post Graduate Residency Certificate – Indiana University School of Dentistry – Riley Children’s Hospital; 1981
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
My sister and future brother-in-law, Cheryl and Dan Robinson, attended Lipscomb, and I had many recommendations from friends. The fact I was awarded a Music scholarship (clarinet) and also a Drama scholarship was a plus.
What’s your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
Winning the javelin competition at my rookie track & field meet, qualifying for the Florida Relays, and having The Tennessean newspaper publish a photo and article relating to my success. The result was a shocker to even me. Being awarded the Most Team Spirited Award my final year is probably most memorable and valuable to me.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
It has to be Coach Joey Haines. He recruited me, taught me, and developed my talent to throw javelin. Our small, amazing team was so talented and successful thanks to Coach Haines. Our era held most of the school records in track and field until just the past few years, and some of our teammates earned All-American status. More importantly, Coach Haines taught us valuable lessons for life. His dedication and concern for us individually were amazing traits you will hear not only from our teammates, but also from athletes in his later stints at Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State University. Coach Haines was inducted into the U. S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
What’s your favorite non-athletic memory from your time here?
My excellent experience at Lipscomb was primarily a result of having many very cool friends and family made up of students, staff and faculty. I began with a music and drama scholarship and finished with a track and field scholarship, but I was kind of a jack-of-all-trades. I loved Lipscomb and served as President of Student Government, but there were so many staff, faculty and students with servants’ hearts who were even more involved, making Lipscomb so desirable for all. Everyone joined together, creating the highly desirable “Face of Lipscomb.”
What are the most valuable lessons you learned at Lipscomb?
Study hard. Work hard. Play hard. Pray hard. Help others. Invest in friends. And schedule everything: studies, play, work, and rest. If you don’t schedule everything, something’s going to be left out, and the result won’t be pretty.
Who were your favorite professors?
Seriously, there is not enough room to list. Dr. Paul Langford was my Pre-Med Advisor and taught many of my chemistry courses. He had a wonderful way of making me want to perform. Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry were two of my favorite classes, but if you ask students in any university about Organic Chemistry, they will shudder. Dr. Langford had a gift for teaching difficult concepts, yet making them enjoyable. Dr. Netterville, Dr. Johnston and Dr. Craig were also favorite Chemistry professors. Drs. Yates, Owens, and Breeden were gifted Biology instructors. Dr. Nance (Physics) and Dr. Kerce (Mathematics) were incredibly understanding toward this boy who struggled with even the simplest of concepts. They were all great professors teaching tough courses. ‘Fessor Boyce and Ken Dugan are legends, and they were even legends to us while they were teaching back then. As President of Student Government, I was privileged to see the inner workings of Lipscomb. I worked daily with Bro. Willard Collins and Dean Carl McKelvey, and I was amazed by their abilities and caring concern for students. I can’t mention Dr. McKelvey without mentioning his “handler” and administrative assistant, Mrs. Mary Proctor, who really ran much of the show. We loved her. Many professors worked with students after hours, adding the special touch only found in a university like Lipscomb. Dr. Ralph Nance and his amazing wife, Betty went even further. To this day, I consider them as my “second parents.” They have no idea how much they made a difference in me – along with their wonderful family, who taught me lessons learned then and even still today.
What do you do now?
I am a Pediatric Dentist in private practice at Great Grins Children’s Dental Specialists in Louisville, and I’ve served on the faculty at both the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. I’m on the medical staff at Norton Children’s Hospital and have served as a Trustee of the American Society of Dentistry for Children. I am also on the board of the Louisville Dental Society Free Mobile Dental Clinic. We serve homeless and financially challenged individuals in areas of downtown Louisville.
While he was a student at Lipscomb, my son Austin got me started serving with Lipscomb’s Guatemala Coban Medical Mission Team. Dr. Steve Sherman and his wife, Magda, head this annual Spring Break mission with many Lipscomb students and other professionals. We camp primitively in areas with no electricity or clean water while serving the wonderful Mayan villagers in the remote mountains of Guatemala. The service is so gratifying and we love it. I still serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout Troop, although my Eagle Scout sons aged out of Boy Scouts years ago. I chair Eagle Scout Board of Reviews for our district.
After nearly 40 years I started throwing javelin again a few years back and compete as a Masters athlete at university Track & Field meets. Coaches invite me and consider me a novelty since I can throw as far as half their 18–22-year-old college athletes. I won the Bronze Medal at the USA Track and Field National Masters Championships in 2015 & 2016, receiving the USATF Kentucky Masters Athlete of the Year for the past two years. In July 2017, I finished fifth in the Masters National Championships while battling a few temporary injuries.
Tell us about your family:
My family is my pride. My wife, Terry Au Ray, has served a life-long career in education. She just “retired” in 2016 as Director of Special Education for the Louisville Jefferson County School System. She has a new career as Children’s Minister at the church we attend, Westport Road Church of Christ. Terry also serves two days per week as a chair of Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) for Oldham County Schools, where she was Director of Special Education prior to her time in Jefferson County. My sons are both graduates of Lipscomb, and both competed in Track & Field. Austin threw javelin and Logan was a triple jumper. Austin graduated from Lipscomb in 2012 with a degree in Molecular Biology, and he is currently finishing two Masters degrees: Physiology & Biophysics and also Microbiology at the University of Louisville while working full time at the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA). Logan graduated from Lipscomb with a degree in Biology in 2013. He then was awarded a Masters degree in Public Health in Epidemiology from the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Logan married Morgan King in August 2015 and is an Epidemiologist at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta where Morgan is a Special Education Elementary School Teacher with Atlanta Public Schools.
FAST FIVE FINISH
- Favorite scripture: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Favorite TV show or movie: I don’t typically watch TV and haven’t seen a movie in years.
- Favorite season: Summer
- Early-morning or late-night person? Definitely early-morning!
- Best car I’ve owned: 1963½ purple Volkswagen Bug with custom wheels, headers and a massive 40 horsepower power plant. I had this gem while at Lipscomb, and man, I’d love to have it back!
You can reach Keith by email (Raykeithl@aol.com) or on Facebook (Keith Ray or Great Grins Children’s Dental Specialists.)