Annual fishing tournament returns to honor fallen sheriff’s deputy
Published 10:01 am Friday, June 12, 2015
The Christopher D. Ray Memorial Scholarship Foundation will have its sixth annual fishing tournament on Saturday, June 20, at the Hercules Boat Ramp on the Nottoway River. The scholarship honors Christopher D. Ray, a Southampton County Sheriff’s Deputy who lost his life in the line of duty on Aug. 29, 2009. Proceeds from the tournament will help support the educational efforts of local high school and college students who wish to pursue a career in public safety.
Ray, an avid outdoorsman, was often found fishing on the river until he left Southampton County to purse a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Radford University. After completing his degree, Ray returned home and joined the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, where he served until he lost his life when his car struck a fallen tree while responding to a house call during the early hours of the aforementioned date.
Ray’s love of the outdoors was evident, even in the last hours of his life. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Christopher was awarded a fish citation the night prior, which family received months after the accident.
Ray’s closest friends and family chose to honor him through the Christopher D. Ray Memorial Scholarship and fishing tournament, memorializing his life and love for law enforcement and the outdoors.
Tournament organizer John Barksdale told The Tidewater News in March 2013 that he “wasn’t content letting [Ray’s] accident be the end. I wanted to keep his legacy alive and be active in everyone’s mind.”
Last year’s tournament had more than 40 boats scattered along the Nottoway and raised more than $10,000.
“Without the fisherman and supporters, we wouldn’t have a foundation or be able to put on the tournament,” said Esther Francis, a friend of Ray’s and co-organizer of the event. “We’re looking forward to giving out another scholarship.”
The scholarship is a $1,000 grant available to a graduating high school senior or college student enrolled in a course of study in a public safety field at either a community college or a four-year college or university. Public safety majors include criminal justice, fire science and paramedic/emergency medicine.
“Christopher’s legacy lives on because of people like you who share our passion for supporting the educational efforts of our local students. and we are forever grateful for their support,” Barksdale said.
To preregister for the tournament, contact Barksdale at 653-8341 or Francis at 653-8342. Entry, whether early or at the event, is $30 per person; fee includes an event T-shirt. Registration begins at 6 a.m. the day of the tournament, and boats will depart at roughly 7 a.m. Trophies will be awarded for five categories, including the largest sunfish, bass, bowfin and gar, as well as for the most species caught. For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.CDRMS.org.