Sheila Crasky Ray’s yard in Montauk was a sanctuary for deer, squirrels, and a variety of birds, with peanuts and birdseed for feathered visitors and large galvanized cans filled with corn for the deer. People knew her as kind, generous, and dependable, and the animals she looked after seemed to feel the same way.
Mrs. Ray died of heart failure on Aug. 16 at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson. She was 79 and had been ill for eight months.
Supporting animals and wildlife was her lifelong passion, her family said. She was involved with animal welfare groups including the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, and provided for many feral cat colonies in Montauk. In the last several months, when she could no longer drive downtown to feed the colony there, she made sure they were provided for with help from her friend Herbie Herbert.
Every spring, she and her late husband, Bernard Ray, would check out the nests of returning ospreys; they knew the location of every one from Napeague to Shelter Island.
They also enjoyed traveling and did so at every opportunity. Mr. Ray was from Maine, and that was a frequent destination. They were well schooled in the treasures of the state and its lighthouses.
Sheila Crasky was born at Southampton Hospital on Sept. 17, 1943, to Edwin Crasky and the former Josephine Stella. She grew up in Amagansett and graduated from East Hampton High School. She and Mr. Ray were married in November 1967.
After graduating from business school at Virginia Intermont College, she began working for the Montauk Beach Company, which at the time had begun the Leisurama development in the Culloden area of Montauk. She was the secretary for Frank Tuma and continued in that role for several years, following Mr. Tuma through his various real estate ventures. She was also a bookkeeper for the Outrigger co-op in Montauk for over 20 years.
Later, she began working seasonally at the Montauk Lighthouse and did so through 2022. “She loved her work, and even on her days off during the winter season would occasionally drive to see how busy the Lighthouse was or how the revetment was progressing,” her family wrote.
She was active in the Montauk Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary and had been a secretary to the fire district’s board of commissioners. More recently and until she fell ill, she helped out at the Montauk Community Church Women’s Guild’s rummage sales.
Mrs. Ray is survived by her mother, who lives in Montauk, and by her cousins. A graveside service was to be held yesterday at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton.
Her family has suggested memorial contributions to the Montauk Fire Department ambulance service, 12 Flamingo Avenue 11954, the Montauk Community Church Women’s Guild, 850 Montauk Highway, or the Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah 84741.