Francis Pray, emeritus professor of biology, dies at 86

August 1st, 2011

Francis Pray, emeritus professor of biology and honorary alumnus of Cornell College, died on July 20 from complications following pneumonia. He was 86 years old. Pray taught at Cornell from 1957 to 1987 and was especially known for educating future doctors. After retiring from the college, he and his wife, Edith Pray, moved to Sarasota, Fla. A memorial service will be held at Cornell during Homecoming at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, in Allee Chapel. The family is holding a memorial service at Medford Leas in Medford, N.J. on Sept. 3. The full obituary, submitted by his family, follows.

Francis Pray, emeritus professor of biology, instructs a student in the lab.

Francis Adams Pray, a member of the Society of Friends, was born in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 9, 1925. He graduated from Shortridge High School, and received an degree in Biology and English Literature from Earlham College in 1947. He received a Ph.D. in 1951 from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.

He was married to Edith Curtis Reeder in June of 1948 in the Mansfield Meeting House near Columbus New Jersey.

From 1951 to 1957, Pray taught Biology at St. Lawrence University, Canton, N.Y. From1957, he was a Professor of Biology at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa. He received emeritus status upon his retirement in 1987. While at Cornell, he served as department chair for several years. He also was adviser to foreign students and he and his wife participated in several Experiments in International Living.

In 1977, during a sabbatical leave in Hawaii, Dr. Pray was affiliated with the University of Hawaii. He and his wife and children developed a lasting love for the islands and  have returned many times.

In 1987, after retirement, the Prays retired to the Sarasota area of Florida. They volunteered at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Mote.

Pray received a hip replacement, which in a twist of fate, was designed by one of his Cornell students, trustee and Dimensions supporter Dr.¬†Larry Dorr ’63.

Since 2004, the couple have lived at Medford Leas, a continuing care retirement community in Medford, N.J.

He is survived by his wife, three children, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.


52 Responses to “Francis Pray, emeritus professor of biology, dies at 86”

  1. Dot Hinman says:

    Dr. Pray was an inspiring professor as well as a treasured friend. He had the ability to make you stretch to accomplish things you didn’t think were possible, and a compliment from him was worth more than any award. As probably the oldest biology student he ever had, I was often frustrated with juggling roles, but the opportunity to sit in his classes and learn from him was energizing. He gave each of his students the feeling they were on his level intellectually (obviously we weren’t, but we would never let him down), and he believed we were capable of so much more than we believed we were. His belief in me was an incredible motivator. He was an amazing teacher, in and outside the classroom.

  2. Nancy Yochem Goliff says:

    Dr. Pray was the best instructor I had in college and he taught the best class and the most challenging class I ever took. I had to work very hard to get my “A” but what I learned about biology and the human body has served my well for all my life. I appreciate what his efforts did to further my education and am saddened to hear about his transition. My sympathies to his wife, children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter.