A “Ray” of sunshine: Manteo superfan passes


Ray Jones, appropriately dubbed Manteo’s “superfan,” supports the softball team.

Sophia Spinella, Staff Writer

Ray Jones is a name every Manteo athlete can remember. For nearly 40 years, the Manteo athletics super fan could be seen at nearly all school sporting events. Sadly, on July 14, 2017, Jones passed away.

As a teenager, Jones attended Manteo High, where he was a highly awarded basketball player, making all-conference and all-tournament. He was also the kicker for the football team, on top of playing baseball. His love of sports would be reflected throughout his life, and even after his death.

“Mr. Ray Jones was one of Manteo’s biggest fans. He was spirited, and was a great supporter of our athletic programs. Everyone knew and loved Mr. Jones. We really miss having him at MHS sporting events,” athletic director Alfie Wheeler said.

After graduating from the school in 1953, Jones attended East Carolina University where his love of athletics did not waver. He supported the East Carolina University Pirates and the South Central Falcons, in Winterville, North Carolina. At the Falcon’s football games, Jones was known as the “Father Falcon”.”

At ECU, Jones received his Master’s Degree in Education. He then went on to work in Sanford, North Carolina and St. Petersburg, Florida, where he was a teacher and administrator for several years. Although he never taught at Manteo, his love for the school and sports teams brought him back after years of being away.

“Mr. Jones’ spirit was, and is, unsurpassed,” administrative secretary Connie Francis said. “Never have I seen someone who loved Manteo athletics as much as he did.”

Even as Jones aged, he still attended nearly all Manteo athletic events. His signature Manteo hat and rag made him stand out in a crowd, and his enthusiasm towards athletics made him almost a celebrity around town. If Jones was at a game, it was going to be a spirited one. The 80-year-old added cheer and pep to every game.

“Mr. Jones added excitement to our sporting events,” Wheeler said. “He would chant and get the fans and players fired up. He always had his famous towel he would wave it his head at games.”

His unwavering support of Manteo athletics not only affected the crowd, as he was often more spirited than the student section, but the players as well. Never one to sit down during a game, Jones could be seen at the sidelines, or as close to the action has he could get.

“He was at every game,” senior Hannah Midgette said. “He cheered [the girl’s basketball team] up and gave us mints at every game. He was a really big supporter of us.”

Ray Jones was a man who loved Manteo through and through. His excitement towards life and sports was a constant factor throughout his 82 years. His memory will not fade from Manteo athletics, and his rag will still be waving for years to come.