Raymond L. Blakely, born July 6, 1944 in Lorain, Ohio, died at his home on December 12, 2017, in Salisbury, Maryland. Ray, the son of the late Timothy and Lula (nee Wheeler) Blakely and affectionately known as “Ray- Ray” to family and friends, was a devoted husband, father, friend, mentor, physical therapist and educator. A kind, wise and gentle man with a wry sense of humor, Ray’s generous spirit and professional contributions profoundly impacted the lives of many, including those he taught and mentored up until his retirement from University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne, Maryland.
Ray’s passing was due to complications associated with familiar cardiac amyloidosis, or “stiff heart,” a rare inherited metabolic disorder. Diagnosed in 2014 with this condition, he chose to learn all he could about the illness and took proactive therapeutic measures by participating in a clinical study at Johns Hopkins University. He also suffered with Parkinson’s disease and was inspired to donate his brain for research on Parkinson’s disease.
Ray began his early education in the Lorain County, Ohio public schools, graduating from Admiral King High School in 1962. He went on to earn several degrees in higher education: an undergraduate degree at The Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 1967; a Certificate of Physical Therapy from D. T. Watson School of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburg in 1966; and a Master of Education degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1969. In 1972, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Physical Therapy from New York University. In 1977 he became the first person ever to earn a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy awarded by New York University.
In 1976, Dr. Blakely joined the Department of Physical Therapy faculty at Howard University, where he was instrumental in strengthening the curriculum in kinesiology, electrotherapy, prosthetics and orthotics. One of his stellar accomplishments was procurement of electrotherapy equipment that was state-of-the-art at that time.
Following his employment at Howard University, Dr. Blakely was an accomplished professor, administrator and physical therapy practitioner at the UMES for nearly 35 years. His appointment to the university was to chair the Department of Physical Therapy. In this position, he was instrumental in developing the program to meet the American Association of Physical Therapy (AAPT) accreditation standards for the Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctoral Physical Therapy Educational Programs. He also served as Founding Dean of the School of Health Professions from 2005-2007. With support of the university administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni, the program today continues to enjoy wide-spread notoriety as an outstanding model in Physical Therapy Education.
Dr. Blakely received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Governors Citation in 2006 for outstanding service to the citizens of Maryland. He also received the Joseph M. Okoh Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching, Program Development, and Service. In serving as Principal Investigator and Director of Grants, Dr. Blakely brought in more than two million dollars in external funding. In recognition of his invaluable contributions to the Physical Therapy field, he was also named a Fellow in the National Society of Allied Health and the American Academy of Physical Therapy. In 2010, he received the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Mentoring. In addition to his university affiliations, he served as a physical therapy practitioner at numerous rehabilitation facilities. Dr. Blakely retired in 2016, marking the end of a long and rewarding career in physical therapy, administration and community service. His leadership contributions were recognized by the UMES Department of Physical Therapy with dedication of a bronze plaque in 2017.
In addition to Dr. Blakely’s illustrious recognitions, he held membership in a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Therapy Association; the National Society of Allied Health; the American College of Sports Medicine; the American Academy of Physical Therapy; the American Public Health Association; and the National Rural Health Association. He was a founding member of the Maryland Rural Health Association. Dr. Blakely also distinguished himself as an exceptional mentor in education, serving in a number of community advisory positions, including the Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center and the Office of Rural Health for the State of Maryland. Socially, he was a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Delta Omicron Lambda Chapter, which honored him with the Centennial Award in 2006. He was also a member of Sigma Pi Phi, Gamma Theta Chapter, a service organization.
Dr. Blakely, but more commonly “Ray,” was preceded in death by his parents and two older siblings, Alvin Blakely and Olliewood Blakely. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 38 years, Bettie (nee Wright); a daughter, Nichole E. Blakely; a son, Brian W. Blakely; an aunt, Grace Wheeler of Brooklyn, New York; two god children, Aaron Foster of New York City and Tiffany Chenault of Boston, Massachusetts and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and colleagues. Also mourning his passing is a devoted friend and colleague during his tenure at UMES, Harriet Epps.
A memorial service to celebrate Ray’s life and legacy will be held at 2 PM on Thursday, December 28, 2017 in the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center located at 500 Glen Avenue in Salisbury, Maryland. A second memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 10, 2018 at the Greater Saint Matthew AME Church located at 1909 West 24th Street, Lorain, Ohio 44052. Cremated remains were interred on December 20, 2017 in the Wicomico Memorial Park, Salisbury, Maryland.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that monetary contributions be made to either the “Raymond L. Blakely Scholarship Fund” at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Department of Physical Therapy, Richard Hazel Hall, Suite 2093, Princess Anne, Maryland 21853; online contributions at https://iaumes.givecorps.com , click on the Raymond Blakely Scholarship Fund. Or contributions may be made to the Greater Saint Matthew AME Church, Lula M. Blakely Missionary Fund, 1909 West 24th Street, Lorain, Ohio 44052.
Arrangements are entrusted to Stewart Funeral Home by Holloway and Downey PA, Salisbury, Maryland. Condolences may be submitted online by visiting the Stewart Funeral Home website, www.thestewartfuneralhome.com.