June 14, 1924 - June 20, 2019
G. Ray Arnett passed away peacefully at the age of 95 on June 20 following a brief stay at Creekside Care and Rehabilitation Center in Stockton, CA. Ray loved the Lord Jesus Christ and is walking in His presence at this very moment. Ray was born June 14, 1924 on the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, VA. He was an avid sportsman, conservationist, outdoorsman, proud patriot and defender of the Second Amendment.
He served under Gov. Ronald Reagan as Director of the California Department of Fish and Game from 1968-1975. In 1980 he was appointed by then President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, overseeing the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1985 he was elected Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association. Later he established Arnett Associates, a consulting firm helping business and industry navigate the permit processes required by state and federal governments to conduct business.
Ray served two years as President of the National Wildlife Federation and was affiliated with many conservation organizations including California Rifle and Pistol Association, California Waterfowl Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Game Conservation International, International Order of St. Hubertus, Mzuri Safari Foundation, National Wild Turkey Foundation, Ruff Grouse Society, United Conservation Alliance, Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, World Wilderness Congress and the Virginia Rifle and Revolver Association.
Arnett was a 32nd Degree Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Bakersfield, Al Malaikah Shrine Temple in Los Angeles and Royal Order of Jester, Court 119 in Sacramento.
Following graduation from Point Loma High School in San Diego Ray briefly attended the University of California, Los Angeles, before World War II intervened. Arnett was sworn into the Marines as an enlisted man by his father, who was Officer in Charge of Recruitment for the West Coast. Later he received a field commission in the South Pacific. After the Japanese surrender in 1945 he was sent to V-12 Officer's Candidate School at the University of Southern California where he received a 2nd Lieutenant commission and completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in petroleum engineering and geology.
He was recalled to active duty by the Marine Corps during the Korean conflict, serving from 1950-53, and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.
For 20 years Arnett was employed as an exploration petroleum geologist for Richfield Oil Corporation and led a team of scientists who drilled the first oil and gas well on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Revenues from his oil and gasoline exploration provided Alaska the tax base to become the 49th state.
Arnett was preceded in death by his parents, Col. James Roscoe Arnett, USMC, and Annie Louise Jefferson-Arnett; a brother, James Roscoe Arnett, Jr. and a sister, Ruth Louise Snow.
He is survived by his former wife, Virginia Elaine Miller-Arnett and their four children, Charlene Louise Parkinson (Jim); G. Ray "Chip" Arnett, Jr. (Shirley); Sharon Elaine Taylor (Dave); and James Randall Arnett (Natalie); as well as six granddaughters, three grandsons and ten great grandchildren, who provided him an "enormous amount of pride and joy."
Funeral services will be private. He will be laid to rest with military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, in Point Loma, San Diego. Remembrances may be sent to Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue, Stockton Animal Shelter, ASPCA, North Shore Animal League, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, First Baptist Church, Stockton CA or some other relatively small, often neglected charity of your choice.
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Cherokee Memorial is honored to serve the Arnett family.