In Loving Memory
Coach Ray West passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving family on Sunday, August 11, 2019. True to his “Warrior” spirit, Coach West fought cancer with the same tenacity with which he approached life. His devoted wife, Lanell said, “He never complained about his cancer, never was afraid, and was at peace with his life.”
Ray West, known by most as Coach and as PaPa Ray Ray to his grandchildren and many of the children at Okarche Elementary School, was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, beloved coach and loyal friend to all who knew him. As a person, his spirit, his passion and his great love of life and all people in it was his legacy; as a coach, his greatest pride was his players, and as a husband and father, his greatest pride was his family.
He was born March 27, 1951, at Sentinel, Oklahoma and on July 12, 1974, Ray married the love of his life, Lanell Schones. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in July. A devout Catholic, he was a member of Holy Trinity Church in Okarche.
If not in the gym, there was a chance you could find him anywhere people were, just talking with them and enjoying their “take” on life because “Coach never met a stranger.”
Father to four children - Aaron, Amber Dawn, Rayla and Alexandria - and six grandchildren (soon to be seven as Rayla and her husband Taylor told Coach of his newest grandson to be born in November), Coach was a devoted family man. He enjoyed fishing with his kids and buying them a “ton” of fireworks during the 4th of July celebration.
True to his passion for all things basketball, he loved watching college games. He recorded every NCAA game on television, dating back to the 1980s because he “might use their stuff someday.”
Coach also loved watching Mash, Married with Children, Seinfeld and the Chicago Cubs on WGN. Coach would often spend late nights with Alexandria watching his favorite shows, especially any documentary about Woodstock.
Coach also loved traveling with his wife Lanell to the mountains, particularly the Grand Tetons, where he enjoyed the beauty and peace of nature with his family.
Coach West was 68 years young and had just completed his 25th year coaching at Okarche and his 45th year of his coaching career. If you were ever looking for Coach West, you were more-than-likely to find him at the gym in his office, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. If not in the gym, the early morning hours would find him delivering The Daily Oklahoman, which he did for 20 years.
He graduated from Dill City High School where he excelled in baseball and basketball and was selected FFA State Farmer of the Year.
Coach attended Southwest Oklahoma State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in secondary math education and his master’s degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in physical education. Ray played basketball at SWOSU where he also served as basketball camp director.
He was a secondary coach and teacher, coaching for 45 years, teaching math for 39 years and a P.E. teacher for the last 7 years. Ray coached at Fort Supply, Gould, Purcell, Mountain View, Mustang, Cordell and Okarche. While at Cordell, he took the team to state 3 times, losing a game with Wright City that went into 6 overtimes. He also took Okarche to state 11 of 25 years, bringing home the silver ball twice.
Creating and directing the “Best in the West” Basketball Camp and the “Best in the West” Summer Tournament for 36 years was a dream fulfilled for Coach West as he was able to meet and coach hundreds of young, aspiring athletes from many schools in the area.
Coach also served as director for Oklahoma Little All City Games for the last 10 years.
Coach was a life member and past president of the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association, honored as the OCA Allstate Coach multiple times, as the 2012 National High School Coach of the Year, and as the Current State Wins coach with 853 wins.
Among the many basketball activities Ray enjoyed were coaching his children and grandchildren. Amber Dawn and Aaron not only played for their father, but both played for him in a state tournament. As rewarding as coaching his children was, he felt coaching his grandchildren was a special blessing. Sharing his love of the game as he worked with Caden, Avery Rae and Asher during P.E. or on his 3rd and 4th grade teams and Emory and Easton during physical education was definitely a highlight of his days. As all of his grandchildren were involved in sports, PaPa Ray Ray spent his “spare” time cheering on his grandchildren in league basketball, baseball, soccer, and, yes, even Enslie’s dance recitals.
In addition to realizing his dream of coaching alongside his dad, coaching with his dad at Okarche almost completes the basketball circle in the West family. Aaron stated, “It was amazing coaching with dad. He treated me as an equal, giving me the opportunity to coach my way. Our dream was to continue and for him one day to become my assistant.”
Coach West is survived by his beloved wife, Lanell; his son and daughter-in-law, Aaron and Ryan West of Okarche; daughters and sons-in-law, Amber Dawn and Brian Schieber of Okarche, Rayla and Taylor Atkinson of Piedmont and Alexandria West of Stillwater; grandchildren, Caden Schieber, Avery Rae Schieber, Asher Schieber, Emory West, Easton West, Enslie West and baby boy Atkinson on the way.
His parents, John Oliver and Ella Sophia Seiter West preceded him in death.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday (Aug. 16) at the new Okarche High School gym and a Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m. Saturday (Aug. 17) at Holy Trinity Church in Okarche with burial following at St. Francis Cemetery in Canute.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Coaches Versus Cancer American Cancer Society, 6525 N. Meridian Avenue, Oklahoma City 73116.