Price was an Upshur County native, having been born in Perryville on Jan. 12, 1926.
Price was diagnosed in 2011 with pancreatic cancer, and despite aggressive treatment, the cancer had recently spread to his liver, intestines and now his lungs. He had been in and out of hospital care for the past few months and was recently readmitted with complications. Price and his wife of 45 years, Janie, decided to not pursue any further aggressive treatment.
A few days before he passed, his wife Janie had said, “Ray is alert and aware of his surroundings and making decisions. With God’s blessing he has not had extreme pain. But it’s with great sadness that I announce to you today that my beloved husband has entered the final stages of his cancer that he has battled for 25 months. Anyone who knows Ray is aware that he has strong convictions and great faith in God. It’s his decision to leave the hospital and return home to spend his final days on his beloved ranch surrounded by the comfort of his home, family and friends.”
Price gave a final message to his fans. “I love my fans and have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years and I hope I haven’t let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll see you again one day.”
Janie thanks the fans for all of their love and messages and wanted to let the fans know the best way to send a note is on their Facebook page or you can mail a card to:
Ray Price, P.O. Box 1986, Mount Pleasant, TX 75456.
Price performed his last show this year in May. He has a new CD coming out and several tribute shows were already being planned to celebrate his career. One is set for Feb. 12 in Nashville.
“Ray and I want to thank our dear friends Billie and Tom Perryman and Bill Mack. I want to thank everyone at ETMC who have provided an environment of care for me and Ray including administration, marketing, our physicians, nurses, security, food services and the chaplain and so many more. A special thank you to Dr. Scott Wright, who ever so patiently and with great compassion, has led me gently through the process of accepting the inevitable.
Price first topped the charts with “Crazy Arms” in 1956. He remained a chart fixture until 1989 — a run that included 1970’s No. 1 “For the Good Times,” which was written by Kris Kristofferson and eventually recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Al Green to Elvis Presley. In 1974, though, he was dropped by Columbia Records and moved back home to Texas.
The singer came to Gilmer for performances several times over the years, including at the Yamboree Barn Dance.
Just over 10 years ago, on Sept. 20, 2003, the country music legend gave a benefit concert for the Historic Upshur Museum (which was featuring an exhibit on his career) before a capacity crowd at the Gilmer Civic Center. At that time, Gilmer Mayor Buck Cross and Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler proclaimed it “Noble Ray Price Day” in the city and county.
As he talked about his career and future plans that night between songs, he quipped to the audience, “I’ll tell you one thing. I’m not going back to the cotton patch.”
True to his word, Price continued recording albums, many released by the independent Step One label, while also tending to his 200-acre ranch outside of Mount Pleasant, a short distance from Perryville, where he grew up.
“People ask me how far I’ve gone in life,” he said to an interviewer in 2010. “About 20 miles.”
Services for Ray Price will be held at Restland Funeral Home and Cemetery in Dallas. Family spokesman Bill Mack said details will be made public in coming days.
Update: KLTV - East Texas church holding memorial service for Ray Price