Rapier (Ray) Pearson Smiley, Sr., was born in Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond and Agnes Smiley. He was baptized at the age of 8 at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where he received his Christian education. He departed this life on December 4, 2020.
Upon graduation from Saint Jude Educational Institute in 1971, Ray attended Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama, where he majored in Biology and Chemistry. While attending AAMU, Ray received two partial scholarships, one for Editor-in-Chief of Student Publications, a position that he held through his sophomore, junior, and senior years in college. He also received a scholarship to play baseball and distinguished himself as All-Conference his junior and senior years. He graduated from AAMU with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1975.
Ray had a deep love for his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He joined the Delta Theta Lambda Chapter of Alpha in Huntsville, Alabama, as a graduate student on April 3, 1976. Ray became a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha on November 19, 1997. He continued to serve and be an active member of the Alpha Eta Lambda chapter for over 20 years in Houston, Texas. Ray’s love of Alpha was immense, and it was not unnoticed that he joined the Omega Chapter on the 114th anniversary of the founding of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
In August of 1975, Ray married Maple Jean Green. From this union came two daughters, Marlyss Jéanine and Candice Reneé. Although this union did not last, it opened him to find his “soul mate” in Phenon Finley. Ray and Phenon met in Philadelphia while working on a freelance project together. Ray was instantly enamored with Phenon, and she loved that he could make her laugh. From this friendship, a lasting and loving relationship was born. They married in February of 1989 and had two sons, Richmond James and Rapier (Ray) Pearson, Jr.
Ray’s work as an environmental engineer moved him to many places in his life, from Huntsville, Alabama, to Philadelphia, and then to Chicago, to Belleville, Illinois, and finally to Houston, where he made his home for over 25 years. He retired from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to enjoy the rest of his days as a doting grandfather, and he was also an active member in his church men’s group.
Ray leaves to cherish his memory Phenon Finley-Smiley, his loving and devoted wife; daughters Marlyss Smiley (Azriel) Stovall and Candice Reneé Smiley (Kevin Caudle); sons Richmond James (Tammy) Smiley and Rapier Pearson (Julie) Smiley, Jr.; sister Riché Smiley (Dev) Outlaw; brother-in-law James (Sharon) Finley; grandchildren Henry Smiley, Quincy Smiley, Leonidas Smiley, and Audrey Rae Smiley; nieces Courtney Outlaw, Simone Outlaw, and Jamesina Finley; as well as a host of family and friends.
The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation for all acts of kindness that were received during our time of bereavement.
In lieu of flowers, please make a gift in memory of Rapier Pearson Smiley, Sr., to:
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center https://gifts.mdanderson.org
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
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University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center