Ray Ben Nesbitt passed away on Saturday, the 15th of February 2014, in Houston. He was 80 years old.
Ray was born on the 12th day of December 1933, in Marshall, Texas, to Gladys Futrell Nesbitt and Joe Morrison Nesbitt. Ray grew up in Marshall and graduated from Marshall High School in 1952. He married his high school sweetheart, Sarah Boone Nesbitt, on the 29th of May 1952. Ray graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1955 and began his storied career with Humble Oil Company in Baytown, Texas, in 1955.
After graduating from Texas A&M, Ray had various job opportunities to choose from, but accepted the offer from Humble Oil Company since they promised he would "never have to leave the state of Texas." In November of 1963, Ray, Sarah and oldest daughters Karen and Lynn moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where Ray was promoted to a position with Esso Chemical in New York, New York. The next relocation was in 1968 to Severna Park, Maryland. Joining the family in this move was youngest daughter Laura. Following another six-month stint in New York, Ray was promoted to Vice President of Exxon Chemical Europe in 1970 and the family moved to Brussels, Belgium for three years. Daughter Karen has the unusual distinction of having three senior rings from three different high schools during this hectic period. In 1973, Ray and the family returned to the U.S. where he was appointed to various other positions, including senior vice president of Exxon Chemical Company, President of Exxon Chemical Americas, and ending his career in Houston as President of Exxon Chemical Company. He retired in 1998 after 43 years of service, with perfect attendance. Ray served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Houston branch from 1997 to 2002. He also served on the Board of Directors for Marshall National Bank, Hibernia Bank and Cleco Corporation. A member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, he held leadership positions with the U.S. Chemical Manufacturers Association, American Plastics Council, Chlorine Chemistry Council and Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, among others. None of these achievements would have been possible without the unwavering support of his loving wife, Sarah. She approached every transition with grace and enthusiasm.
Ray's life story would be incomplete without mentioning his love for his alma mater, Texas A&M University. As Ray once said on behalf of him and Sarah, "Texas A&M gave us a great start that resulted in a very successful career with Exxon and we want to share some of the benefits." Some of their gifts to the University include the Sarah B. Nesbitt Scholarship – Chemical Engineering, the Joe M. Nesbitt Professorship – Chemical Engineering, the Ray B. Nesbitt Scholarship – Chemical Engineering, the Ray B. Nesbitt Endowment for Faculty Excellence in Chemical Engineering and the Ray B. Nesbitt '55 Undergraduate Study Area in the Jack E. Brown Engineering Building. Among other gifts, Ray and Sarah were endowed 12th Man donors. Some of the leadership roles Ray held were on the Chemical Engineering Advisory Council and the Executive Committee for the One Spirit, One Vision Campaign. He was honored to be a member of the Gold Century Club, A&M Legacy Society and to have received the Engineering Outstanding Alumni Award, among others.
Ray never wandered far from his roots in East Texas. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, playing poker with his life-long friends and playing a competitive hand of "42" with his children and grandchildren. Ray was an avid sports fan and religiously followed the Houston Texans, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros and, of course, his beloved Texas Aggies. The family he leaves behind will always treasure the memories of our many extraordinary family vacations. Ray knew that the memories of time spent with family were the most valuable things he could ever leave behind. His children and grandchildren will carry on this tradition in his memory.
Preceded in death by his parents and sisters, June Flatt and JoAnn Copeland, Ray is survived by his wife Sarah of nearly 62 years; daughter Karen Marti and son-in-law Evan of Houston, daughter Lynn Nesbitt of Houston, daughter Laura Mathews and son-in-law Chris of Camas, Washington; grandchildren Taylor Moffatt and wife Grayson of Houston, Sarah Mathews of Dallas, Samuel Hubbard of Houston, Marissa Mathews of Dallas; sisters Alva Atherton of Houston and Bonnie Ferguson of Loudon, Tennessee.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock this afternoon until seven o'clock this evening, Wednesday, the 19th of February, in the library and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The funeral service is to be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Thursday, the 20th of February, at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 345 Piney Point Road in Houston, where the Rev. Stuart A. Bates, Rector, is to officiate.
The interment is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the 22nd of February, at Nesbitt Cemetery in Nesbitt, Texas, where Fr. John Himes of Trinity Episcopal Church of Marshall, Texas, is to officiate.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Mr. Nesbitt's memory be directed to The Women's Home, 607 Westheimer Rd.?, Houston, TX, 77006?; or to St Francis Episcopal Church, 345 Piney Point Rd., Houston, TX, 77024.