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The late Lorna Ray attends the Tohono O'odham Ball.

SRPMIC Remembers Former Council Member Lorna Sebahe-Ray

Former Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Council Member Lorna Sebahe-Ray lost her battle with cancer on September 16. She was 66.

Building her dream of helping others to beat breast cancer, Sebahe-Ray lived her life fulfilling everything she wanted to do before going on to her final journey.

Sebahe-Ray was born in Sacaton to the late Ida Ferguson-Sebahe of Lehi and Byron Sabahe of Chinle. Her grandparents were Charles and Josephine Ferguson. She had three children: Olson Webster, Melissa Ray and the late Lane Webster-Rodriguez.

The former SRPMIC Council member represented the Lehi District from 2010 to 2014. While serving, she addressed family needs through family-oriented programs, as well as promoting Community-member leadership and supporting the progressive ideas of the SRPMIC.

She had great knowledge of the SRPMIC thanks to all the years she worked in the Community. Before serving on the Council, she worked in the Housing Department dating back to the 1970s.

Ray was sworn in as a SRPMIC Council member in December 2010, she is pictured with her son Olsen Webster and daughter Melissa Ray.
“She liked to travel a lot,” said her youngest daughter, Melissa Ray. “She liked to go to California, New Mexico, Tucson or even to Las Vegas, and a lot of her traveling started when she worked with the Salt River Housing Department, where she took a lot of training.”

Sebahe-Ray enjoyed traveling to California for powwows and gatherings for the bird singers and dancers, or even to arts and crafts fairs.

She was also a big fan of baking, “especially pineapple upside-down cake, yeast rolls, cinnamon rolls and her homemade biscuits,” Ray said. “She was always willing to lend a helping hand; she was willing to help anytime she could.”

She always advocated training and educating new homeowners through the Housing Department, whether it was in simple home maintenance or yard care.

Ray at an event with the SRPMIC Housing staff.
Ray said that her mother always wanted to try to provide a voice for the people and wanted to represent the district by providing insight and knowledge to the members from a government point of view.

“She was very proud when she was on Council,” said Ray. “The Cry House in Lehi was one of the biggest things that she advocated for, because she thought Lehi needed their own Memorial Hall like Salt River did. She always spoke from the heart, and the way she addressed things was the way they needed to be said. Growing up the way I see it, how she spoke to people and treated them went into her Council position or even from her Housing position because she truly wanted to help people.”

One of her favorite things to do was to cook and bake, here she attended a Tamale Making Class. Former boxer Evander Holyfield and Ray at one of many events she attended.
The Cry house, also known as Xalychidom Piipash Nyvaash, is a special place that brings peace and comfort to families during their most difficult times of loss, SRPMIC council member Deanna Scabby said.

“Since its opening I have not heard any major complaints on the final product,” Scabby said. “This would not have been possible without the assistance of Lorna Ray.”

Ray said that everyone knew her mother was a very strong, godly woman who stayed true to her faith.

In October 2014, Sebahe-Ray was diagnosed with breast cancer. In September, she developed congestive heart failure and had to be hospitalized.

Ray takes a picture with the Miss Salt River and Jr. Miss Salt River Royalty at the Native American Recognition Days at Chase Field.
“I think she would be very proud of how the Community and Tribal Council handled her passing and how they were able to honor her in the way they did during her services,” Ray said.

Stacey Gubser, director of the SRPMIC Community Development Department and the Housing Department, said it was privilege to have known Lorna Sebahe-Ray.

“Lorna was one of kind, and I loved her energy so very much,” Gubser said. “The passion that she had for the Community and all of its members was inspirational and motivational. Lorna’s laughter was infectious, and just thinking of her laugh makes me smile.”