The student news site of Bullitt East High School.


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The student news site of Bullitt East High School.


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‘A Ray of Sunshine’

Wendy Stansbury
Ray Stansbury is pictured wearing a cowboy costume. He was only six years old when he was hit by a truck and died. “My parents did not talk about this much but I know that Ray was loved.” Wendy Stansbury, Ray’s sister, said.

Mount Washington Middle has Dewy, Old Mill has Old Milly, but who’s Ray?

William Ray Stansbury Jr. was a six-year-old boy who died in front of First Baptist Church in Mount Washington on North Bardstown Rd.

The story of Ray is a primarily unknown tragedy that happened right here, in our town. On Sept. 18, 1964, at 3:30 p.m., Ray returned home from school. After realizing that he forgot his jacket, Ray’s mother, Wanda Stansbury, scolded him and told Ray to return to school at once to retrieve it. Ray had conveniently lived on Snapp St., just two streets over from Mount Washington High School.

Mount Washington High School was the only school in Mount Washington; before any other school was built. Renamed to Mount Washington Middle after Bullitt Central was built, Mount Washington High School housed grades 1-12, therefore, six-year-old Ray went to a high school.

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As he went to cross the street, a large semi-truck came by. It is believed he died on impact, as Ray’s official death certificate read: “Child ran in front of the large trailer truck and was killed instantly.” According to the death certificate, written by Corner Walter S. Keith, Ray died of a severe concussion, and the hospital listed was Highway 31-E. Meaning that by the time he was found, Ray had already been pronounced dead.

The driver of the truck is unknown, however a newspaper from the Courier-Journal on Sept. 19, 1964, the day after Ray’s death, provides background on the situation; there were three traffic victims from highway toll 595 in total for that year; “a six-year-old Mount Washington boy

hit by a truck, a Perry County man in a collision near Viper, KY, and a Graves County farmer” were of the victims listed. “William Ray Stansbury, just [the age of] six, was killed when he ran in the path of a tractor-trailer [at] 3:30 p.m. on U.S. 31-E in Mount Washington,” Courier-Journal said.

“My parents did not talk about this much but I know that Ray was loved.” Wendy Stansbury, Ray’s sister, who was born after he passed away, said. Another sibling, Tammy Wilder, was only 18 months old when this all took place. He had two more siblings pass away in infancy, Dottie and Vickie Stansbury, who died in 1955 and 1961. Meaning the family had three children who died back-to-back in the span of around 10 years. This alone makes it hard to believe that their father, Bill, found it in his heart to forgive the one who took their child away from them. “Both of my parents realized that this was an accident and my dad reached out to the driver of the vehicle and offered grace and forgiveness,” Wendy Stansbury said.

The family had a church background and attended First Baptist Church. When this accident took place, the church reached out to help. Long-time members of the church recall helping the family during this time. Though the family went to First Baptist, Ray, as well as his recently deceased parents, rest at the New Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, off of Deatsville Road in Nelson County. He was buried on Sept. 20, 1964, and the inscription on his tombstone reads: “A Ray of Sunshine.”

Though his death was labeled an “accident”, Ray’s life was no mistake. “Ray loved playing cowboys and Indians. He was usually the sheriff. He chose my sister’s name, Tammy, from a TV show he watched. He loved ice cream and chocolate. He also enjoyed going to Gatlinburg and visiting Cherokee, North Carolina,” Wendy said. Before Wendy and Ray’s mother passed away, an old neighbor who lived next to the family on Snapp St. had found Ray’s old sheriff star in the backyard of their childhood home. “I held on to [the star] and placed [it] in with my mother when she passed away,” Wendy said.

Stories like Ray’s have been hidden or pushed away because of a major change of focus on the present times, in communities such as Mount Washington. Everyone has a story, and they should be told. Like Ray, who in the eyes of some, lived and died, but people are more than their deaths. “From discussions I have had with my parents and family, Ray was a happy boy that loved everyone,” Wendy said.

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  • J

    Jennifer TerryOct 28, 2023 at 7:41 am

    Thank you for sharing this untold story. I enjoyed reading your article that was very well written.

  • V

    VivianOct 27, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    Very well written. I am a member of First Baptist & had heard about this accident. It was interesting to put a face to the story.