2009-08-20 / Front Page

Businessman, Philanthropist Ray Koontz Dies At 93

"He was always ready to help," says son
Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

Ray S. Koontz, 1916-2009 Ray S. Koontz, 1916-2009 Prominent businessman and philanthropist Ray S. Koontz died Sunday at Fulton County Medical Center. He was 93.

Ray came to McConnellsburg from Bedford County, where he was born and raised, and is probably best known for bringing the modern supermarket to this rural community.

In 1961, recognizing a business opportunity, Ray bought the IGA grocery store in Hustontown and relocated it to Mc- Connellsburg the same year. In short order, just about everybody was buying their groceries at Ray's IGA, which he expanded and updated numerous times over the years.

"He, of course, made his mark as a grocer," said Ray's one-time neighbor and former bank president Lyle Duffey. "We knew him as the man who brought selfservice supermarkets to Mc- Connellsburg and the county."

Ray eventually moved his supermarket to the Penn's Village Shopping Center that he bought in 1980. There, he built a new, modern structure to house the IGA. While other grocery stores, both large and small, came and went, Ray's IGA continued to thrive right up until the time he left the grocery business in 1990.

Although Ray was active in the community, he was a silent mover and shaker.

Businesswoman Helen Overly said that Ray did lots of things for people behind the scenes.

"He was always there to help people," Overly said. "He did it in his own quiet reserved way."

Ray was a longtime member of the McConnellsburg Lions Club and a past president. He was also a 50-year member and past president of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, 61-year member of the Bedford and Mt. Zion Masonic lodges, a member and supporter of Jaffa Shrine in Altoona, a supporter of the McConnellsburg FFA chapter and the McConnellsburg 4-H clubs, a member and elder of St. Paul's United Church of Christ, and a supporter of the Old Brick Church in Friends Cove, Bedford County.

Auctioneer Lyle Reed said Ray did a lot of good for people and was quiet about it.

"He never made a big show of it," said. Reed. "I always admired that about him."

Ray played a significant role in the economic development of Fulton County. He was a founding member of the Fulton County Industrial Development Association, serving for 45 years as a board member and past president in 1964.

"When Fulton Industries (which later became JLG Industries) began, he was the first to help out," said Overly.

Retired businessman K.G. Richards noted Ray's solid support of the Lions Club, and said that Ray would be remembered as a "quiet, easygoing man who was very intelligent in the business world."

"He had a lot of good ideas and he put them to use," said Richards, who also noted that Ray continued to conduct his business affairs and community work until the last six months of his life.

Ray's accomplishments were many, and he was acknowledged for them on numerous occasions. He was honored by the Chamber of Commerce as Man of the Year and Outstanding Citizen, honored in 2008 by the Masonic lodges to which he belonged, and, in 2009, the McConnellsburg Lions Club, which benefited time and again from Ray's generosity, named the Little League ballfield at its community park the Ray S. Koontz Field.

Ray will also be remembered as a lifelong hunter who traveled the world hunting sheep, trophy white-tailed deer and bears. He was a founding member of the Mason-Dixon chapter of the Safari Club International and a life member of the Fulton County Pistol and Gun Club and the Fulton County Sportsman's League. His mounted collection of game in the basement of his home was well known by many.

Ray's son Robert remembers his father as "a friend to everybody and a strong community supporter."

"He always gave back to the community and he believed in always buying locally," said Robert. "He once told me he couldn't think of one person he would not want to eat Christmas dinner with. In his eyes, he had no enemies."

"His legacy," said Overly, "is helping people, both large and small."

Besides son Robert of Mc- Connellsburg, Ray is survived by daughters Jane Smith of Katonah, N.Y.; Lena Fox and Betty Calhoun, both of Bedford; Renee Brink of Chambersburg; daughter in-law Ann Koontz of Greenwich, Conn.; 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Ray's wife, Fay Welsh Koontz, whom he married in November 1960, and son Richard preceded him in death.

Funeral services will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. in Mc- Connellsburg High School auditorium.

See page B3 for full obituary.

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