Cover photo for Olivia Jane Cleveland Ray's Obituary
Olivia Jane Cleveland Ray Profile Photo

Olivia Jane Cleveland Ray

January 16, 1938 – August 31, 2022


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Lie In State: 8:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Family Visitation: 11:00 A.M. – 12:00 Noon

Funeral Service: 12:00 Noon

Held at

Fairlane Church of Christ

101 Dow Drive

Shelbyville, Tennessee



Willow Mount Cemetery

Shelbyville, Tennessee


Watch the Funeral Service at


Joe and Elizabeth Cleveland, residing in Dayton, Ohio, were happily blessed with their second baby girl on January 16, 1938. They prayerfully agreed to name this beautiful child Olivia Jane with the middle name of her paternal grandmother. Shortly after the birth of Olivia, Joe decided to relocate his family back to Tennessee.


As a child, Olivia always displayed strong independence and a spirit of caring for others. The Joe Cleveland family grew quickly, and Olivia became one of seven siblings. Her parents were Christians, trusted God and taught their children to do the same. Olivia gave her life to Christ at an early age and was an active member of the Union Ridge Church of God in Christ. She had a beautiful tenor voice and would sing with her sister, JoAnn, and cousins to the glory of God. Her parents taught their children to love and take care of each other, unconditionally. She was smart and was able to complete most of her home assigned tasks before her siblings and would assist others.  During her teen years, Olivia consistently held babysitting and house cleaning jobs in order to have her own money.

Olivia’s high school years were fun and fruitful. She was pretty and popular, and was voted as the football queen, Miss Bedford County Training School, during her senior year. It was her freshman year in high school when she met Eugene Ray, the love of her life. Eugene and Olivia became a household name around the school and they both graduated with the Class of 1956.


Graduated and feeling all grown up, Olivia continued in her independent spirit of doing domestic work, saving her money and sharing with her family. As expected, Olivia soon became known as Mrs. Eugene Ray! For 61 years, they honored their vows until death do us part. They became the parents of four children; Valerie, Kertrina, Christie and Cedric who became their priorities moving forward. Olivia was focused on being the very best mom possible. She participated and supported her children in all of their endeavors… in and out of school. At this point, Olivia was employed at Bedford County Hospital as a nurse’s aide and was committed to the area of healthcare. She decided to further her education by enrolling in nursing school. As a dedicated mom focused on putting her children first, Olivia chose to work the midnight shift, getting home in time to see her children off to school, sleeping and studying during the day, picking up children after school and ensuring they were properly fed dinner. In 1965, hard work paid off and Olivia received her LPN degree.


Being in Olivia’s presence was like a breath of fresh air. When she shared her beautiful radiant smile, your spirit would automatically be lifted. Olivia pursued a life of selflessness, service, and salvation. She remained grounded by her faith in God. She always knew that God was her source, and the Eugene Ray Family was always active participants in church. As time passed, Eugene and Olivia united with Bright Temple Church of God in Christ in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Down through the years Olivia stayed committed to sharing her time, talent and treasure. She was a dedicated tither until the very end.

She was an exceptionally talented cook who believed that you should always have food left when all had eaten. Anyone who visited her home would definitely be invited to eat. Her ability to bake cakes became well known and she would willingly bake cakes for many families and friends upon request. She was known to freeze her famous pound cake and ‘boiled custard’ and overnight them to her siblings … now, that was love!

Olivia’s love for community and love for service in the health care field was certainly obvious. During her nearly 40-year tenure at Bedford County Hospital, serving most of the time as a recovery nurse; it was frequently known for patients to schedule their surgeries around her work schedule. She never turned down the many people who would stop by her house to have their vitals checked. When her former pastor, the late Bishop Audley King was ill, he put his faith in her to accurately administer his medication at home. Olivia did not disappoint him as she made the regular thirty minute drives from Shelbyville to Union Ridge. She was truly a skilled and compassionate nurse!

When her late husband, Eugene Ray was elected Mayor of Bedford County for 12 years, Olivia willingly and generously served as the First Lady of Bedford County. She supported every initiative and project focused on making life better for the people of Bedford County right alongside Mayor Ray.


God recognized the selfless and committed service that Olivia had given to Him and His people throughout so many years. On Wednesday morning, August 31, 2022, He put His arms around her and welcomed Olivia to eternal rest. Now, she has joined her loved ones who are already resting in the arms of Jesus; parents, Joe and Elizabeth Cleveland; husband, Mayor Eugene Ray; children, Christie and Cedric Ray; son-in-law, Parks Brame; niece, Thema Thomas; great-nephew, Austin Mitchell; and brother, Joe Cleveland.


Precious memories will forever linger deep in the hearts of so many whose love for her will never cease; daughters, Valerie (Charles) Avent and Dr. Kertrina Brame; grandchildren-Mary Avent and Charles Avent, Jr.; siblings, JoAnn Mitchell, Martha Dysart, Era (Jerome) Twyman, Donald (Denise) Cleveland and Evelyn Thomas; sisters-in-law, Evelyn Cleveland and Elaine Ray-Radford; brothers-in-law, Dr. Bernard (Angela) Ray and Carey (Anna) Ray; numerous nieces and nephews; special friends, June Taylor, Cedric Anderson, Elaine Fox and Linda Cortner-Johnson; and extended relatives and friends.

“A Time for Everything”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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