On Tuesday, Aug. 18, former St. Mary’s College trustee and former Maryland senator J. Frank Raley passed away at age 85.
According to his obituary at the Brinsfield Funeral Home in Leonardtown, Maryland, Raley attended St. Mary’s County parochial schools, Charlotte Hall Military Academy, and Georgetown University. He also never lived further than 10 miles from his birthplace.
From 1955 to 1959, Raley continued his family’s political legacy as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates; from 1963 to 1966 he served as a senator. After his years as a senator, Raley became a delegate to the 1967 Constitutional Convention in Maryland. During those three years in the Senate, Raley is credited with having initialized the building of much of the infrastructure needed to develop St. Mary’s County, including building schools, roads, and bridges to the county.
St. Mary’s College also felt Senator Raley’s assistance when in 1966, he helped develop St. Mary’s into a four-year liberal arts institution. From 1967 to 1991, Raley served on the Board of Trustees and in March of 2010, he was awarded St. Mary’s highest honor: the Order of the Ark and the Dove. At that time, the College also renamed the dining hall to be the J. Frank Raley Great Room. His portrait currently hangs in the Great Room.
The former trustee emeritus made contributions to all areas of the college, including the construction of residence halls and other campus buildings. Raley also helped create the Center for the Study of Democracy as part of his lifelong interest in democratic relations and education. His interest in the county also led him to assist in the SlackWater Project, a journal which documents the county through oral histories and scholarly articles.
In addition to his devotion to the College, Raley also served on the St. Mary’s City Commission and on the Task Force on Affiliation between Historic St. Mary’s City and the College. In 1999, he was awarded the Cross Bottony award in recognition for his accomplishments and contributions.
In an email to the College, President Urgo said, “J. Frank was a visionary leader. He not only laid the foundation for St. Mary’s College of Maryland as a premier public liberal arts college, he was a chief supporter of the College’s mission and goals throughout his lifetime…We will always be grateful for J. Frank’s vision and leadership.”
Urgo also said that the College will work with the family to plan “our own remembrance and recognition of the significant role J. Frank played with the College” and will update the community when plans are more solid.
Raley is survived by his stepson, John P. Cook Jr.; granddaughter, Julia P.C. Dobson; sister, Ruth D. “Peaches” Raley; nieces and nephews.