Billy Ray Dunn

On the morning of July 31, God called home Dr. Billy Ray Dunn - loving husband and father, loyal friend, wonderful shopkeeper and an outstanding teacher.

Billy Ray Dunn - not William - not Bill - but truly Billy Ray - entered the world, at home - in Vago, WV in Greenbrier County on October 9, 1934. When he was in his 40’s - he needed his birth certificate to get his passport - and found that it said October 10. This of course led to a future of celebrating two birthdays with double the presents Born to Norman and Mabel Hughes Dunn, Billy Ray was the oldest of four children - all five years apart. He is survived by his brother Lee and wife Peggy of Clifton Forge, VA and was preceded in death by siblings Dottie Miles and Jerry Dunn.

He attended Charity Elementary school and was double promoted since he was the only student in the first grade. He graduated at the age of 16 from Frankford High School and that fall started at Potomac State College. His real desire was to major in Journalism and become a famous sports writer, however the foreign language requirement scared him into taking the one major that didn’t require a language - agriculture. Having been an active member of the FFA - and raising one pig and one cow - along with some crops - it seemed like a good fit.

His two years at Potomac State were wonderful days filled with panty raids on the girl’s dorms, putting live chicken hearts in water glasses of unsuspecting females and perfecting his ping pong skills. Running away from school back to Maxwelton caused his mother to finally draw the line in the sand - either straighten up or go to Greenbrier Military Academy. His mother won out, of course.

He next attended WVU where he graduated with a BS in Vocational Agricultural and later with a MS as well. In 1956 he was employed as the vocational agriculture teacher - and later served as Vice Principal at Petersburg High. He always spoke with great fondness of his years in Grant County and continued to stay in touch with many students.

In 1967, he was hired to head up the counseling program at Potomac State. He was then recruited by Shepherd College two years later to teach in the Education Department. In 1973, he graduated with his Doctorate in Teacher Education and Counseling from Ball State University in Indiana. He remained at Shepherd till 1980 and served as Chairman of the Education Department and Sports Information Director. Traveling with the basketball team and Coach Bob Starkey along with the football team and Coach Walter Bar were definite highlights of his years at Shepherd.

In 1980, he was hired to teach the Master’s Degree program in Vocational Education at Marshall University. He traveled to many parts of WV to teach the classes - which afforded individuals the opportunity to obtain their MS degree without having to actually be on campus. In fact, while he was teaching there he earned an MS in Adult Education.

In 1985, Billy Ray made a slight switch and went from being a professor to being the Superintendent of Randolph County Schools in Elkins, WV. Those years were exciting, challenging and rewarding. In 1991 he took retirement from the WV system and accepted a position as Professor in the Education Department at Marietta College in Ohio. In 2002, he retired again after having taught for 46 years.

In 2004, he and his wife Cindi opened a shop - The Vintage Lady - in Harpers Ferry where they had moved after leaving Marietta. Until his failing health, he loved to work at the shop - where he was in charge of toys, books, and souvenirs. He was the quintessential shop keeper greeting everyone with a smile and sharing with them his love of West Virginia.

He is survived by the love of his life, Cindi Parsons Dunn who he married in 1986. They celebrated 34 glorious years of marriage this past June 21st. The twenty-three year age difference raised quite a few eye brows with some saying it wouldn’t last. But as the vows say - till death do us part.

He is also survived by his three children of which he was so very proud. Laura Rutherford and husband Tim of Owings Mills, MD, Dr. Lisa Poland and her husband Buzz of Martinsburg, WV and Nicholas Boyles and wife Angela of Buckhannon, along with the employee of The Vintage Lady, Crystal Grimsley, whom he considered a daughter.

His grandchildren brought him great joy and opportunities to teach them lots of songs - including the FFA song. All three girls kept him on his toes for sure. Kelsey Rutherford of Columbia, MD and Gracie and Hannah Boyles of Buckhannon, WV. He loved them dearly.

Additionally he is survived by his mother in law Hazel Parsons of Ripley, WV, brother in law Alex Parsons and wife Debbie of Kenna, WV, sister in law Carol Dunn of Kenova, WV and several nieces and nephews.

His sweet four legged girl Maggie was his faithful companion when he was doing what he truly loved the most - working in his yard.

Ever the educator, Billy Ray donated his body to WVU Human Registry so that he could continue educating students. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be made to Camp Hill-Wesley United Methodist Church, PO Box 1, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Condolences may be expressed at

Posted online on August 10, 2020