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Retired KS Politician Remembered


Family, friends and colleagues from across the nation are remembering retired Kansas politician Billy McCray who died June 2.

Funeral services for McCray will be held in Wichita Friday morning.

The long time Democrat, served in the state legislature for 18 years both in the House and Senate. He worked for the Boeing Company in the 1950’s.

Former state Senator, Rip Gooch said he and his friend were in unique positions at Boeing for people of color at that time; Gooch was a flight inspector and McCray a photographer.

Gooch said he and McCray ventured into business together where he would fly a plane over a farmstead and McCray would take aerial photos to sell to farmers.

“We were flying over the first farmstead to make these pictures and in a real steep turn for Billy to shoot the farmer’s home he decided this wasn’t the business that we should follow and that closed down that business before it got very far,” he said.

McCray resigned from the Legislature to become the director of the Office of Minority Business for the Kansas Department of Economic Development. 

He served on the Sedgwick County Commission and co-authored the book Between These Walls, Working for the People. 

His daughter, Melody McCray-Miller is state representative for the 89th district. 

McCray’s funeral is scheduled for 11am Friday at Wichita’s Tabernacle Bible Church.  He was 84 years-old.

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.