Gibbons Ray Fussell, age 85, of Oak Island, North Carolina passed away on January 2, 2023 at 2:37AM under the care of SECU Hospice House of Brunswick, Bolivia, North Carolina.Ray was born on September 17, 1937 to Russell G. And Lila Mae Fussell, and raised on a 100- acre farm in Winterville, North Carolina. After Ray graduated from Winterville High School in 1956, he went on to serve in the North Carolina National Guard for several years.Ray worked as a manager in the manufacturing industry, including Morganite, until he realized he would rather have his own business and work for himself.
In 1963, mutual friends introduced Ray to his first wife, Rebecca Highsmith, in Greenville, North Carolina, but sadly Ray became a widower after just six months.Ray met Fern Bilbrey and married again in 1967, adopting her two daughters, Julie and Jan. Together Ray and Fern dabbled in a variety of endeavors before investing in a small franchise called Munford Do-It-Yourself in Cookeville, Tennessee. From there, the couple went onto build a successful international picture frame manufacturing company, Colonial Molding. Ray lost Fern to cancer after 31 years together.In 1999, Ray married Katelyn Jeanette Highsmith Moye and gained two stepdaughters, Diane Anderson Doumas and Donna Anderson. The couple invested in new Tennessee enterprises, purchasing a mini market that supported local small businesses, and Tuscany Stone manufacturing cultured stone. Ray and Katelyn eventually settled in Oak Island, North Carolina.Ray was always a deeply spiritual man, a follower of Jesus’ example. In early years, he spent a short time studying at East Carolina University, attended Nashville Baptist Bible College, and then graduated from Atlantic Christian College in Eastern North Carolina. Ray’s final baptism as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses took place on March 12, 2011, after a great deal of Bible study, research, and prayer, concluding that he’d found the truths he’d long been searching for.
Ray was a great cook, particularly smoking and grilling meat, and he enjoyed entertaining and sharing his special recipes including his famous barbecue sauce. He enjoyed gardening and spending time on his farm in Tennessee hunting, fishing and riding four-wheelers, especially with his grandsons.Ray was predeceased by his father and mother Russell and Lila Mae Fussell, wives Rebecca and Fern.Ray is survived by wife Katelyn, daughters Julie and Jan, step daughters Diane (Cliff) and Donna, and grandsons Alex (Kari), Michael (Kira) and C.J. (Aliya) Doumas, Noah and Eli Arrick, brothers Kenny (Norma) Robin (Martha), and multiple nieces, nephews and cousins.Services will be held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 960 Southport Supply Road SE, Bolivia NC 28422 on Saturday, January 7th at 3:30PM.Immediately following the service all are welcome to join the family for a reception at, The Preserve Club House: 7100 Marsh Grove Lane Oak Island, NC ( by the Oak Island airport)In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide Work, https://donate.jw.org/ui/E/donate-home.html#/donate/WW
or Lower Cape Fear Life Care https://lifecare.org/donate/