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Remembering Beloved KCTS 9 Host George Ray

Saturday, November 25, 2017

We were sad to learn that longtime KCTS 9 host George Ray died of kidney failure in a Puyallup nursing facility on Thursday, Nov. 23. He was 85. George was a beloved member of the KCTS 9 family and served our community and the station with distinction as the lead on-air fundraising anchor and host for nearly 35 years.

During a journalism career spanning over 50 years and every aspect of the broadcast industry, the Janesville, Wis., native (born George Raubacher — Ray was a stage name he adopted early in his career) covered the school desegregation crisis in Little Rock in 1957, obtaining the only one-on-one interview with then-governor Orval Faubus. He interviewed President Kennedy aboard Air Force One. George also helped launch KCHU-TV, the first UHF station in California, and was the sports director for KOMO-TV from 1964 to 1968. He had a deep love of history and was an expert on military history, in particular the theaters of WWII.

But George is perhaps best known and appreciated for his affable personality and ability to promote and sustain public television through his uncanny ability to connect with an audience. As a fixture of KCTS 9 pledge programming and as host of KCTS 9 Cooks he helped raise tens of millions of dollars to support public broadcasting on KCTS 9, including funds that moved the station from the University of Washington campus to its current building at Seattle Center. Few people have played as large a role in building support for public television as George.

Rick Steves, travel guru and author, said of George: 

“On trips to Victoria and Vancouver with the KCTS 9 gang I remember how great it was to have George there — radiating the public television passion for community and demonstrating how, in the case of KCTS 9, it was a community that spanned a border. And, judging by the legions of smiling Canadian fans, George was beloved on both sides of the border too.”

George is survived by his companion of 40 years, William Kimball; brother John; his two children and eight grandchildren. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

We invite you to read the comments below shared by George's fans upon his retirement from broadcasting in 2012 and to post your own fond memories of him.

Editor’s note: This page was updated on Nov. 25, 2017 as we learned of George Ray’s passing. Some of the comments below may reflect what was previously featured on this page. 


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My hat's off to you George!
As a fellow Seattle broadcast veteran, I've enjoyed watching you over the years and wish you all the best as you embark on new adventures.
Funny- though our paths have only briefly crossed at professional or charity events such as the local EMMY awards or Tuxes & Tails (nice dog!), I include myself among your many viewers who consider you a friend. With your help, I've collected some great recipes, gained knoweledge about fascinating topics and people, and ammassed a sweet collection of books, CDs, DVDs, audio tapes and yes- even VHS documentaries by Ken Burns!

Cheers, my friend! And, Congratulations!
Connie Thompson
KOMO 4 News

George: You are terrific! In all the years that we worked together, I never once saw a hint of anything but calm and kindness in your dealings with an often-stressful work environment. Enjoy your retirement: You've earned it, my dear.

Dear Smiling George,
I live in Victoria, Canada, and have always watched and contributed to KCTS. You have always been the perfect host and the genial and gentle face of public TV. YOU and PBS are the very best advertisement for, and the very best of, America. How you kept your weight down with all that tasting, I don't know. Everyone loves you and I will miss you most surely, but we all wish you well.

When George is inspiring us to donate, we enjoy the experience. With other public tv fundraisers, I am impatiently waiting for the pitch to end and the program to return. When George is talking, I find myself nodding my head and smiling. I'm sure that in years to come, when I am listening to another, I will be wishing that George was back.

George, best of luck in your future!

I have always enjoyed watching your cooking specials - you are the best! My husband and son knew that they were not to disturb me when I was watching KCTS on Saturday afternoons.

Never once did you ever say "this is bloody awful" - you were the consummate host. Happy trails to you George!


I had the pleasure of doing my Italian soup recipe on cooking live.
George spotted the hot sauce I had brought along and asked to taste it.
It was from North Carolina and blazing hot! He put a big shake onto his finger and popped it into his mouth. After only getting half the words "it's good" out, he turned bright red! Desperately looking for a bottled water,the stage crew began counting down to the beginning of the show. George never missed a beat! He even held up the sauce bottle and made note of it being Hot Stuff!
Enjoy your retirement George, your a wonderful guy!

Big hug to you!


George, although I only know you through your work in Seattle television it is has if I know you as a friend. Your kind manner and inciteful questions have always been appreciated. You ask the questions that we all would like to ask if we had the opportunity. You truly are the consummate professional and are among an elite group who have had a major impact on Seattle television.

I remember the expression on George's face when the presenter on one of the KCTS cooks segments, threw tomatoes on the floor to show they didn't break.

It was one of the few times George was stunned.

Have a wonderful retirement, George.

Fom Vancouver, Canada
I will definitely miss you. I only know you through PBS of course but you have been a very nice and warm "friend."

All the very best in your retirement


We will sure miss you, George. To me, you are the face and voice of KCTS 9.

George, I have watched KCTS Cooks for years and have even submitted a couple of recipes that were included in the cookbooks. I always appreciated your relaxed style with the guests and the thorough joy you showed each time you tasted a wonderful dish. I will miss you greatly! Enjoy the next chapter in your life and know that you will be missed.

George was very kind to me before I started my cooking segment and I was starting to calm down until he pointed out that although the viewing area is regional in the US, the show will be seen by all of Canada! Hope your retirement is wonderful.

You will be missed! I watched you on Channel 9 for years in Seattle and was pleased to still be able to watch you on cable after moving to southern WA. KCTS is truly special and you are part of that magic. I wish you all the best on your new adventures.

My first experience of George was back in the 90s when he was doing the Red Dwarf marathons. The stars of the show would often show up for the telethons and all kinds of mayhem would ensue, which George handled with aplomb. Ever since then I've enjoyed his grandfatherly presence on KCTS. It's the end of an era! Good luck, George, and thank you for your service!

Living in Victoria, we were lucky enough to have George Ray visit us
and how we all loved seeing him. He had the personality that made
one say "don't you wish he was a part of OUR family" and of course
with his brilliant TV personality, he was!!! Watching him was
sheer pleasure - he obviously loved what he did and it showed.
Have a happy healthy lengthy retirement George - you surely deserve
it after all the fun and pleasure you have brought to us!!

Adios Amigo! Loved every minute watching you. You will be missed and are greatly loved!

My husband and I have loved watching you on the KKCTS Cooks and miss you already. You have done a very good job on the special programs you have announced and you will and are missed. We hope you enjoy your retirement. Have fun and a Job Well done! Thank you!

Congratulations dad you have had a fanastic career in TV broadcasting. Doug and I are Very- Very proud of you, WE know you will miss it,But you will have more time to read all the history books that you love to read, WE love you, HAPPY RETIREMENT Dad :)

Congratulations from BC! It has been an honor watching you work tirelessly on KCTS, urging folks to support all the great programming this station offers. We especially enjoyed watching you on KCTS Cooks; you're a man who truly enjoys his food! You will be missed dearly. Enjoy your retirement and all those grandkids. Best Wishes, George!

Congratulations on a job exceedingly well done! I shall be very sorry not to experience your cheery, upbeat, and humourous personality and friendly face in the future..
S Lighthall
Vernon, BC

It's hard to believe that it has been thirty-seven years since we first met, George. After hundreds of Pledge Nights and KCTS Cooks programs, you deserve a "break in the action." Congratulations and best wishes in your retirement. Now there is no reason for you to miss out on Spring Training! Burnie

Congratulations on a well deserved retirement. Enjoy ever day to its fullest filled with whatever you desire. Your presence on the TV will be missed. Return now and then to sample the food on the cooking show. Adios.

Happy Retirement!I hope that you stay well and enjoy these years. You have earned them.

Dear George: Very best wishes for a happy and enjoyable retirement. For me you have always been the public "face" of KCTS. Your uncanny ability to "shake the trees" and have money pour forth was a sight to behold. Those of us who love KCTS will be forever in your debt.

Well, well, well, George. End of an era and all that. As someone who's known you for so many years that we started our pledge time together when KCTS was still broadcasting out of that little building on the university campus, I can say that you will be greatly missed on the PBS screen, and behind it. It was so good to get to know you over the years, and to work with you. I think by the time we finished pledging the Peter Paul and Mary 25th reunion show, they'd been together 40 years!

All the best, and maybe now you'll FINALLY get to do that "circle drive" in BC!

Leigh Carter

George: You caused me to love KTCS with your warm charm, sense of humor and your obvious kindness. I admit that I don't want you to leave KCTS because it will never be the same without you. But, we all look forward to that time of our lives where our committments are chosen and executed with simply pleasure in mind and not from obligation, no matter how fun that obigation has been, don't we? Have a wonderful retirement!

Dear George: You will always be the voice of KCTS for me. I spent many an hour in the green room with you listening to your wonderful stories, and always learning something new. I'm not sure how the station could have survived through the tough years without you. Your talent, kindness, undying enthusiasm, warmth, and humor will be much missed on air. Happy Retirement to you. I hope you make some well deserved dreams come true. Hugs

I am so sorry that you are leaving KCTS. I live in AZ now but you are the one that got me interested in watching cooking shows on TV. I don't know of another market that has a show as wonderful as yours and inspires people so. I have loved the cookbooks that have been made and hope you have a wonderful retirement.

Thank you, George, for hosting all those wonderful special moments on KCTS. Your obvious enjoyment of the matter at hand (whatever the subject) certainly spurred misers to become givers for very good causes! Stay well and keep busy in a happy and well deserved retirement.

Enjoy enjoy enjoy --- from now on as you obviously have up to now . We will miss your great, comfortable presence. I have always taken it as a compliment when people tell me I look like you ( or vice versa ) -- and that has happened a lot !!

From Vancouver, BC: I've watched channel 9/27 for all of George Ray's 30+ years there; he is a KCTS icon. With his rare warmth, affability and dignity, his presence is irreplaceable. George has made tuning in feel cosy and 'like family' all these years. And then there are his powers of persuasion, especially in the dark days of KCTS' financial crisis several years back. Much as I enjoy the odd bit of bluegrass, what on earth am I doing with a box set??! How did it happen?? George's impassioned oratory and engaging personality, that's how.
All best wishes for a very enjoyable retirement, and thanks for the memories. Now you'll have the luxury of calling your time your own!

This is a name that has always been a lifelong impression. Capt George was my father, George Harrison-Beatles etc....then comes George Ray. A master of communication. What a connection you have with the community, and also how your able to grab a new friend so quickly. Your honesty, your emotion and your from the heart expression. You have been a pinnacle for the rest of us including me. You have more fans than you will ever know. You have a gift and the best ones are when you play with it everyday and share the gift. Thank you George!
Like you said to me a few and JP Patches have one thing in common like no one else........what a major "Gold"circle that is indeed..... no doubt that you have earned such honor. Thank you for teaching me the importance of Public Television !
God Bless my friend, Mark Christopher

Dear George, Congratulations on retirement and thank you for all the years of service in television. I had the pleasure of presenting a recipe on KCTS makes "salads" in 2006. You were so kind and put me at ease. I presented the "firehouse salad" my father always made while working as a firefighter many years ago. I also brought my mother to the show and thought she would enjoy the day at the studio. Once you heard that she joined us for the day, you insisted that she be brought on stage for the demonstration. She loved it, I loved it and all of us who have had the pleasure of meeting you loved it. I purchased many cookbooks just because you made everything sound so delicious. Thank you for all the years of cooking, tasting and sharing on KCTS! Warm wishes and have fun in your retirement.

George: I am honored to call you my best friend and over the past 40 years or so we have enjoyed some great moments together - family gatherings, weddings (and funerals), crazy road trips, the unbelievable boating adventures, our famous Yahtzee tournaments, all the memorable visits at the Mount Rainier cabin, you standing up with me on my special day (actually sitting on a stool during the ceremony as it was just before one of your surgeries!), and so much more.

But today, Aug. 3, as I sat next to you at your special retirement party at KCTS, I was especially proud of our friendship because I know what Public Television has meant to you and how you devoted so many years to Channel 9. The tributes from KCTS staff and volunteers, along with the very cool videos compiled by Stephen and the crew, were appropriate celebrations of what you accomplished for Public Television and our community at large.

Even as I write this, tears fill my eyes...I love you and truly value our long standing friendship!!

Jerold B. Smith

This is a sad day.... Every time I watched a food episode on KCTS there was George. He convinced me to buy just about every cookbook that was ever featured on the Saturday afternoon cooking shows. I came to regard George as not only a friend but as family (we have never met). I certainly will miss your enthusiasm and commitment. I will miss you. Congratulations on your retirement. You are a class act.

George Ray;
To me, YOU ARE CHANNEl 9. You are the warmest, most wonderful person there is on any or all TVE. No matter what you talk about or what you do, I Iove it. I will miss you so much. You are a very dear friend.

I do hope your retirement is wonderful for you and your family. You do deserve it.

Nevertheless, you will be sorely missed by hundreds of thousands of us!

Joanne, Port Townsend

George -
Please know that you have touched so many lives. I was honored to have you as my cubicle buddy at KCTS. I will never forget the boxes of letters that you brought over to the cubicle with you. I loved reading them and discovered that your other talent is writing! Your letters were so personable and honest.

I also enjoyed hearing the story about your ride on Air Force One with President Kennedy. I could listen to you for your hours. You've had a careerm that most journalists dream of having.

Thank you friend!!! Enjoy your retirement! I'm sure Skeeter will be so happy to have you home more.


Thank you for all that you've done for everyone.

I work at the Mukilteo library and have always had a slight crush on the wonderful George Ray. Last year George came to our library as part of a series that Sno-Isle libraries was sponsoring along with KCTS9. I was so star-struck to meet him that I blurted out that I thought he was sexy. He looked properly dumbstruck and I retreated to the backroom of the library in humiliation. But I still think he is sexy!!!!! I will miss you George. The cooking shows will never be the same.

Loved when you had the recipe books and the chefs on. Made everyone want to try and do them and you seemed to do well keeping the chefs comfortable. Your personality is great, friendly, calm and relaxed. You could and will never be replaced, thank you for a great experience and your talent to a wonderful public television station. Enjoy your retirement/family and life in general.

Congratulations George!!! I will sure miss hearing the kids say "wait, go back, George is on" when I'm flipping through channels! But I am so happy that you will get to enjoy retirement! We love you very much

Renae, Trenton, Jaren

I am so glad to hear about George Ray's retirement. I was wondering why he was no longer on the cooking shows. He made watching them such a pleasure with his reactions and comments. I was priviledged to be on a cooking show and meet him. He was just as friendly, humorous and kind as he appeared on television. Have a wonderful retirement George.
Christina, Vancouver, B.C.

You have always been a pro on the air, in the community and in person. Enjoy your retirement and know that all of us at KCTS 9 will always value your great contributions!

Take care,
Enrique Cerna

George Ray was a beacon of warmth on our public television.
There was no way that we could ignore his welcoming presence.
Thanks George for being there and making our public television so meaningful.

Cheers, Georgie

Dear George Ray: Watching KCTS-Channel 9 won't be the same without you. You will be missed! PS: Where can we get a copy of "Over George Ray"?
Longtime viewer - Dan :) are one of the hosts that encouraged me to take off with cooking in my retirement. You have touched many lives with you ability to let your guests be stars for their fifteen minutes. You spot will be missed. Stay healthy, travel far, love those grandchildren, and I hope to shake you hand when I bump into you around Puyallup. md

George Ray - regional television icon... right up there with all the greats, JP, Jean Enerson and all the familiar faces I've welcomed into my home since the 70's... job well done sir! Enjoy the next phase of your life... Best,

Thank you for the wonderful interviews such as Red Dwarf, and all the others on pledge drives.
You made me feel like a friend chatting with you in the livingroom.
Live long and prosper.

I was lucky enough to work with you George on several pledge drives. I will never forget when I first started as volunteer talent how welcoming and sweet you were to me. You gave me some wonderful advice and made me feel at ease. I learned so much from you and so did the community watching you over the years. You will definitely be missed! Thank you so much for making the pledge nights so fun and interesting. I hope you enjoy your retirement and time with family and friends. :)

Take care!


Karla Clark

Whenever pledge time rolled around I always hoped it would be you hosting it, you are the most real and sincere TV broadcaster I have seen (well, I'm Canadian and Peter Mansbridge of the CBC scores a little higher, just a little). The pledge breaks seemed to fly by when you were speaking, so interesting and so genuine.

I wish you a very happy retirement. I'm sure people will often stop you on the street to express how much you're missed by the KCTS audience.

All the best,
Pat H.

For some reason the Email notification slipped by me. Sigh

It is with sadness that I hear about George Ray’s retirement. However, I understand. After about thirty five years of broadcasting with KCTS I’d think about retiring as well. Not because of the station but because there comes a time we have to admit we need a break. Well done true and faithful servant of KCTS.

My contact with George goes back several years. “KCTS Cooks Cheese back in 2008.” It was a pleasure meeting him on the set. He was sitting on the side lines as we filed in to see what would take place during the show. He called me aside and started asking me some questions. Mainly how to pronounce my last name find out a little more about me and I suspect to put me at ease. I guess I may have seemed a little nervous at the time. It’s not like I’ve never been in front of a camera before.

It put me at ease and I was confident all would be well. He was soft spoken with a generous infectious smile. Somewhat hypnotic if you will. His demeanor was that of an elder with many years of experience calming even the most apprehensive contestant. I appreciated the fact we had the time to chat. I felt much better afterward and knew he would be there to guide me.

I pray that George will be happy in his retirement. Although it may be difficult for him to settle down to retirement. I know I would be hard pressed as well. Erika, (My wife) threatened to find me a job if I didn’t find something to do… Well I did. Sigh

Congratulations George for a job well done. You have been the bulwark of KCTS and have helped guide the station from its meager beginnings to what it is today. You will be missed at the Pledge Drives. It was always nice to see you interacting with those that shared the spotlight with you. You are a gentleman and a scholar. You have done well and I’m sure you will be dearly missed in the hallowed halls of KCTS.