Ray was born in Manchester and raised in Scotch Grove, Iowa. Ray graduated from Monticello High School. He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA in Administration of Justice. After graduation, he began his career in corrections as a correctional officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
Ray and Emily Hartkemeyer, who is a Registered Nurse at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, were married in December 2002. She attended Monticello High School and Northeast Iowa Community College. Emily is employed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as a RN. Ray and Emily have two children, Claire and Owen.
In 2005, Ray was called to active duty by the US Army and began serving in Iraq, and consequently he missed the 2006 and 2007 legislative sessions. He is a retired Infantryman with CO A 1/133rd Infantry in Dubuque, IA. He is a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. He received the Purple Heart for wounds received in Combat in August 2006 in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. He retired from the National Guard in February 2009.
Ray attends Peace United Church of Christ in Monticello. He is a charter, and lifetime, member of the Monticello AMVETS. He is a part of Monticello’s Drill Team, Olin American Legion and the VFW. He is also a charter member of the Monticello Eagles Club and a lifetime member of the Anamosa Penitentiary Museum.