The heroic bus driver who lead a group of Chowchilla children to safety is being honored.
The Chowchilla City Council voted to name a park in honor of Ed Ray.
Ray was driving a bus full of children when they were kidnapped in 1976.
Thirty-six years after that kidnapping, Ray received the attention he so often shunned.
"He would say 'Why the heck are they doing that?' But deep down he would be so excited and ever humble that you guys were even thinking of naming a park after him," his granddaughter Susan Ray told the council.
Susan and Ray's grandniece Randi represented the family at the council meeting.
"Children were his life," Randi Ray Mull told the council.
And that's exactly why city staff suggested that a plot of land at Mariposa and 11th near the high school in Chowchilla become Edward Ray Park.
"When the idea of the proposed park came up it was perfect. Because it was tying his name to a place where youth are going to be gathering and going to be happy and healthy," said Peggy Haupt with the City of Chowchilla.
In July of 1976, masked men with guns hijacked the bus Ray was driving. They forced Ray and the 26 children into a moving van buried in the ground. When the kidnappers fell asleep, Ray lead the children to safety.
Jack Boyett’s children were almost on that bus. But they went to church camp that day. "I would say anything with his name on it is a tribute to him. He was a swell fellow," Boyett said.
Ed Ray passed away in May at the age of 91.
"We all miss him. I mean it's hard. It's hard not going somewhere and wondering ‘Oh I wonder what Grandpa is doing,’" Susan Ray said.
Hopefully he will be proud of the park that will bear his name. Of the planned play set and basketball courts and plenty of open space for children to play.The park is being paid for with state grant money. It will take two years to finish the park. Construction is expected to begin in the next year.