Ray Slone’s Legacy will be Felt for a Long Time

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Retired teacher, community leader and musician, Ray Slone, died on October 2 at the age of 75 after a 10-month battle with cancer. Ray’s quiet demeanor and kind ways endeared him to his students and to the many people whose lives he touched.

Ray was a talented and accomplished teacher, musician and a dedicated community member. He taught for 33 years, mostly high school math, before retiring in 1985. Ray also served 18 years as Knott County treasurer, worked 11 years for the Knott County Housing Authority and, more recently, served as county judge pro-tem.

Ray’s musical interests went back to his childhood growing up in Leburn, KY. One of his early memories was learning to play a banjo his father made for him when he was 10 years old.

Ray began performing in elementary school and later formed the Slone Family Band, with his daughter Carolyn playing banjo, daughter Marcia on guitar and Ray on mandolin. He and his wife, Wevena owned and operated a music store for several years in Hindman.

Ray was a regular on the staff of Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Family Folk Week. He also gave music lessons to countless young people and aspiring musicians. His last student, Annabelle, was enrolled in the Settlement’s Summer Tutoring Program for children with dyslexic characteristics. He was teaching her to play fiddle up until a few months before he died.

Ray played at the Grand Ole Opry and received many awards during his lifetime. More recently, he was nominated to the board of advisors of the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music. A week before he passed he was awarded the Sarah Gertrude Knott Award for talent and dedication as a musician, educator and instrument repair specialist at the 2007 Kentucky Folklife Festival.

Ray recorded several CDs, including Echoes from the Past, Ramblin’ Round with the Slone Family, Traditional Drop Thumb Banjo Songs, and Songs of Appalachia, a CD and instruction book. These CDs are available at the Marie Stewart Museum & Crafts Shop in Hindman or through the shop’s online store.

While Ray is off playing with the angel band, his earthly friends and family will celebrate his life at the 31st annual Appalachian Family Folk Week, which is being dedicated in his memory.

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