Ray Templeton’s immense influence on the Wylie school district and the Wylie community are evident with a quick drive down 707.
He had a hand in most of the buildings at Beltway Park Church and in many of the additions to Wylie schools on that road. He also played a role in the construction of Wylie’s High School on Antilley Lane.
But what people remember most about Ray is not the construction he oversaw or his vision for the future or his financial acumen.
It was his influence on people.
“Ray’s talent was leading people, training people, listening to people,” said his son Abe. “Part of his mentorship was taking young leaders and growing them. He was very big on growing people.”
Ray served 21 years on the Wylie school board and his influence on the district during that time is immense. For that, he is being inducted into the Wylie Hall of Honor during Homecoming festivities later this month.
Unfortunately Ray passed away in July after a brief illness. He and his wife Gaylene have five children, Amy Hughes, Misty Heifrin, Ashlee Broadstreet, and twins Abe and Addison Templeton. They also have 17 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Ray grew up in Abilene and graduated from Cooper High School. He married Gaylene in 1971, and after high school, he went to Texas A&M to study chemical engineering while Gaylene worked to put him through college.
He graduated from A&M in 1978 and went to work in Houston before moving his family back to Abilene to work in the oilfields. He continued to be a huge Aggie, and in fact, his family became known as the Aggie Cult. All five of his children and all their spouses and two of his granddaughters, plus a brother and nephew, are Aggies.
In 1991, friends asked Ray if he would consider joining the school board, knowing that his financial skills and vision would be an asset to a district that was experiencing unprecedented growth.
He ran and was elected.
“He was already seeing how everything was starting to grow south,” Gaylene said. “He was very much a visionary. I think that was one of his gifts to plan for 10 or 20 years out.”
Ray was part of the board that passed a bond and built a new High School in 1994. In 2000, he became board president. He remained president until he retired in 2012, after serving on the board for more than 20 years.
Don Harrison, who was Wylie superintendent during that time, said Ray helped the district stay sound financially during a time when many West Texas school districts were hurting and in decline.
“Finance was his forte,” Harrison said. “He was very budget minded and very good financially. He was very much concerned about budget and taxpayers’ money.”
Current Superintendent Joey Light said Ray also brought unity to the board. “He would try and encourage everyone to see different perspectives,” Light said. “But the board was very unified under Ray. Everyone got along well and worked well together.”
Ray also was very progressive and was always thinking ahead.
“Vision and goal-setting were strengths as well,” Harrison said. “He was always wanting to push and to make everyone look at how we could be better. That is one of the major roles of the school board. That was right up his alley.”
In 1996, Ray left the oilfield to join the staff of his church as a volunteer. At that time, Beltway Park Church was struggling financially and had just lost its pastor.
“He got to use his business wisdom in running the church and gave it a chance to grow,” Gaylene said. “He was in charge of most of the buildings that were built. On the school board, he learned they had to be unified to get the job done. He brought that to the church.”
Not only did Ray help get the church to a solid financial place, but he convinced David McQueen to come be pastor and then stood back and let McQueen take the lead. He left his church job in 2009 to go back into the work place, but he continued on as an elder. He played a major role in the men’s ministry and the church’s bootcamp.
Ray was never about getting credit. He was always about training future leaders and helping people.
“I don’t know if I can think of a man who personally influenced more individuals,” McQueen said during Ray’s memorial service. “There aren’t many people who influenced my own life more than Ray.”
Kris Seale also spoke at Ray’s service about his friend’s desire to mold future leaders.
“He had a passion for trying to take men and turn them into men – real men,” Seale said. “He wanted us to get together as a band of brothers and storm the gates of hell with water pistols. He came to the church with the idea of bootcamp. Now he has impacted thousands of men’s lives and their hearts.”