Former Governor Robert Ray was honored last night by the Des Moines City Council as Iowa’s “most distinguished citizen.” Plans were unveiled for a Robert Ray Asian Garden at the Chinese Cultural Center of America which will be built near the Des Moines Botanical Center. Ray told the crowd they probably didn’t think it was possible for a politician to be humbled, but he said he was. The City Council also renamed a city street (East First) that will lead to the garden as Robert D. Ray Drive. Ray joked that he didn’t think people got streets named after themselves until after they were dead. Former Governor Terry Branstad is helping raise the money for the Asian Garden. Branstad says Ray has set a great example of commitment to public service. Ray recently served as interim president of Drake University, his alma mater, and stepped in to serve briefly as Mayor of Des Moines after the elected Mayor’s death. The garden plan unveiled yesterday is designed to honor Ray for his humanitarian work in welcoming Asian refugees to Iowa. Marilyn Maye, a Des Moines native, performed for Ray, and sang two of the songs used during Ray’s gubernatorial campaigns.Ray said that campaign song helped him win his first term in 1968. Yesterday’s event was planned as a celebration for Ray’s 75th birthday, which is Friday, September 26th.
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