Ray Horvath
1928 - 2019
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Ray Horvath was driven by the desire to make life better for those around him. Yet his reputation and his honor did not rest on that desire alone, but rather upon a vision, meticulous planning, an incredible work ethic and attention to detail that made those desires a reality. He didn't just talk about making a difference in people's lives, he made a difference in his profession, the community, neighborhood, and family.
Raymond Eugene Horvath died on November 2, 2019 in Farmington. He was born on January 23, 1928 in Gallup, New Mexico to John G. Horvath Sr. and Lillie Mae Cates. He was preceded in death by his wife Nellie.
Ray was preceded in death by siblings Mary Alice Schofield, John Horvath, Eleanor Gibson, Robert Horvath and is survived by sisters Edith Bukovec, Bertha Peden, and Brother George Horvath. He is also survived by children Gary Horvath (Inna), Jan Nesslage (John), and Dale Horvath (Frances), 7 grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Ray was raised in a strong international community in Gallup that bonded together during the Great Depression. Later the family moved to Farmington, NM where he graduated from high school. The family faced many challenges during the Great Depression that shaped Ray's philosophy as a person and educator.
After graduation from high school, Ray aspired to attend Colorado State University to become a veterinarian. Instead he was drafted into the Army. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned home and enrolled at the Old Fort Lewis College where he worked in the garage, drove the Mighty Moo (the school activity bus), and most importantly he met Nellie and married her in December 1950. Their first son, Gary, was born in 1951 followed by Jan in 1954 and Dale in 1957. Though Ray never had a chance to achieve his dream at CSU, he could live vicariously through his granddaughter Ana, who is studying biology there.
Ray began his education career in 1952 teaching science at McKinley Elementary. This was followed by stints as assistant principal at Farmington High and Hermosa Junior High. He was also principal at Apache, Country Club, and Ruth N. Bond Elementary in Kirtland. In each of these settings he motivated and inspired students and teachers to make the best of their education experience. He was always thankful for those students who stayed in touch with him throughout the years.
Ray retired as an educator in 1991, dedicating nearly 40 years of service to schools in San Juan County with the belief that "children are worth the effort." During that time he received national recognition. In 1987, he was named the Elementary Principal of the Year by the National PTA.
In 1988, he was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Distinguished Principal. Ray was decades ahead of his time with his "humanistic" approach to learning. He felt the school should provide personalized education to meet each student's needs. He valued their culture while creating an environment where students were taught that they have a responsibility to the larger world. In 1992, he was elected to the National Education Association New Mexico Hall of Fame.
Ray's impact on San Juan County extended beyond education. He was a member of the Farmington Civitans and Lower Valley Lions Club. Ray served on the boards of Farmington Parks and Recreation and Childhaven, and the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and served as an usher at the First United Methodist Church in Farmington for many years. For these and many other efforts, Ray was named Farmington Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year in 2006.
In 2008, Ray was inducted into the San Juan Regional Medical Center Hall of Fame for his service on the hospital's board of directors and the board of the San Juan Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.
Ray loved Nellie and his family and was exceptionally proud of them. Through his words and actions, he demonstrated the importance of having a vision, having a good work ethic, being honest, speaking up for what you believe in, and giving back to the community.
A ceremony of Ray's life will be held on November 29, 2019 at the Riverstone Church, 808 N. Monterey, Farmington at 11:00 a.m. followed by a reception at a place to be determined later. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Foundation for Educational Excellence, Attention Cindy Lyons, 3401 East 30th Street, Suite A, Farmington, NM 87402.

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Published in Pine River Times on Nov. 11, 2019.
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Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
December 26, 2019
I just found out about Ray's passing this evening. I was able to visit Ray briefly on Nov. 1 in Aztec. Couldn't ask for a better friend, neighbor. Ray helped my wife save her choking toddlers life with a calm suggestion. He was a walking book of wisdom., and didn't mind sharing it.
To be missed.
David Howell
November 29, 2019
We always called him Uncle Gene. He was such a kind, awesome man. My condolences to all my cousins. He definitely was very special and did many kind things for people and the community.
Bobby Horvath
November 21, 2019
Uncle Ray Horvath was and always will be one of my favorite people. Thanks for the love, support, and memories. I am so sorry for leaving Rays name out as my keyboard is old and I sometimes do not hit the keys hard enough for them to show up.
Linda Riley
November 21, 2019
Uncle was and always wil be on of my favorite people. Thanks for the love, support and the menories.
Linda Riley
November 17, 2019
I am truly blessed to have been mentored and guided by Mr. Horvath when I did my student teaching at Ruth N. Bond. His patience and sincere belief that all children can learn was and continues to be an inspiration to me. God keep his family in His care and comfort. My prayers are with you.
Nora Yazzie
November 12, 2019
Under his guidance Ruth N. Bond was a inspiring place to work. It was hard work and a lot was demanded of us, but it was also a place of high jinx and joy. I am thankful for that experience.
Suzanne Sanchez
November 12, 2019
I remember Mr. Horvath, as a principal, when i went to school at Ruth N. Bond, many years ago. (I graduated from KCHS in 1990.) To me he was always a favorite of mine, even though i was just a young gal at RNB elementary. Thank you for being a nice person. Thank you to the family for allowing him to be a part of many children's lives as a principal. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr. Horvath. Love, Sharon
November 11, 2019
Mr. Horvath was my first principal. He shaped my values as a teacher. I went to visit him a little over a year ago. I am so glad I did. He loved Nellie and his children beyond measure. I will always be grateful that he took a chance on me. I am sure he is already running something up in heaven. Prayers to his family and caretakers!

Clara Brunk
Clara Brunk
November 7, 2019
Mr. Horvath was such a special person. He was our science and math teacher in Jr. High and later the Vice Principal at FHS. He was a wonderful mentor. Such a big part of the FHS class of 1959. Mr. Horvath, you will be missed. Love you. We were so blessed to have had you in our life.
Juanita "Gayle" Newton-Brown
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