Ralph ‘Flip’ Rayburn

Ralph ‘Flip’ Rayburn of College Station, a tireless advocate for the protection of global marine resources, died Thursday, January 31, 2008 at his residence. There will be a gathering of friends and family from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, February 2, at Callaway-Jones Funeral Home, located at 3001 S. College Ave. in Bryan. Memorial services are set for 2 p.m. Sunday, February 3, at A-M United Methodist Church, located at 417 University Dr. in College Station.

Ralph was born on April 8, 1947, in San Antonio. He received his bachelor’s of science degree in zoology and his master’s degree in oceanography from Texas A-M University. Ralph spent his working years dedicated to issues involving the Texas coast. After serving in the U.S. Army, he began his career as a Marine County agent for Aransas County. He served as executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association, director of Coastal Fisheries and director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Ralph achieved his ultimate goal of working for Texas A-M University in College Station, the town he loved, as associate director and extension program leader for Texas Sea Grant. During his career, Ralph served on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and was recently appointed chairman; he was a member of the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Commerce; and served on the Executive Committee for the Coastal Coordination Council. He retired from the U.S. Army Reserves after 25 years and was co-class agent for the class of 1969. He devoted his passions and energies to the protection and preservation of the waters and wildlife of the Gulf Coast.

He carried the Aggie spirit with him, befriending all those he met. He was a man of true faith and devotion to doing what was ‘right.’ We are all blessed to have known Ralph, as he was a kind, considerate and giving gentleman. He will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, uncle and friend.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Sam and Lea Rayburn, and brother, Ross Rayburn.

Survivors include his wife, Elaine Stinnett Rayburn; daughter, Rachel Rayburn; sister-in-law, Margarethe Rayburn; nieces, Ruth Summers, Rebecca Gustafson, Elizabeth Uber and Karen Trevino and their families; nephews, Ryan Rayburn and Jeremy Stinnett and their families; and brother-in-law, James T. Stinnett III and wife, Frances.

The family requests that donations be made to the Ralph Rayburn Texas Sea Grant Scholarship Fund. Checks may be made payable to Texas A-M University and sent to the attention of Terry Poehl, Texas Sea Grant, 2700 Earl Rudder Fwy. S., Ste. 1800, College Station, Texas 77845.


  1. Ralph:Your positivism about life, your smile, your advise, your friendship, well it is hard to put in words all the good things you gave us.

    You and your family will be in our prays for long time. Everybody will remember you as an person who always provided a positive thought to the coastal people.

    We wil miss you….

    Juan Moya

  2. Dear Elaine, and Rachel,
    Know that you all are lifted up in prayer by our family. We pray that God’s peace and loving care envelope you in this time of loss. We will miss him.
    I remember him as always being good natured, and caring, and always a friend in our classes at church. He was a good man and a good example as a father and an Aggie.
    Yours-In-Christ, Jim Greene ’70

  3. Elaine and Rachel:
    Greg and I are so sorry for your loss. Ralph was such a genuine man, a wonderful husband and father and true Aggie. We are honored to have had the chance to know him. Know that you both are in our constant thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
    All our love,
    Cammy – Greg

  4. It was our good fortune to have known and worked with Ralph for a number of years in and around the Capitol. We will miss him and offer our sympathies to his family. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Jeff and Susan Frank

  5. Elaine and Rachel,
    We are all so sorry to hear the news about Ralph. We just cannot believe it. Ralph was such a positive person in life. Thanks to Ralph, Lonnie was very inspired about going to A – M. and about being in the Corps. We just cannot tell you in words how much Ralph meant to us. Please accept our condolences.

    Larry and Ruth and family

  6. I was saddened to hear of Ralph’s sudden passing. He was so giving of his time and talents, touching many lives in a positive light. Family and friends… may God bless and comfort you during this difficult time and may you find comfort in the promise of the rescurrection.

  7. Dear Elaine, I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your husband. Please know that you and your family will be in our prayers. When you’re in San Antonio, please call and say hi. Lesvia cp 210,363-5553, home is 210 599-4567

  8. Elaine and rachel–I’m still in incredible shock and looking for words to express our great sorrow for the loss of such a gentle man and great human being! Elaine–we’ll never forget that wonderful evening, just a few weeks ago, when you, Ralph, Christy and I, had that delightful evening in Silver Spring. You guys will forever remain as the model perfect couple and extend to you, Rachel, and the rest of the family our truly sincerest condolences. Ralph left a remarkable legacy and I am quite confident that, in time, you’ll take over and lead the charge. Much is left to be done. Count me in as a foot soldier! Much love, hugs, and kisses Mike and Christy

  9. Our hearts go to the Rayburn family for the loss of Ralph Rayburn, one of the best Aggies I’ve ever known. A friend to many and always a gentleman to everyone he met. He gave so much to his friends, Texas A-M Univeristy, his family and others. He will be missed by the Aggie family who shared so much with him.

    With deepest sympathy.
    Dewayne – Sharon Hollin

  10. I was a classmate of Ralph’s at Aggieland. I saw him in Austin often as I worked for the Deopartment of Agriculture in downtown while he was in his executive director position in Austin. I saw Ralph last at Roger Engelke’s funeral lass than two years ago and he looked much better than the rest of us there. I was so sadden to hear of his passing. He was a super human being and friend, who will be deeply missed by many many people.
    With deepest regrets,

    Charles Wallis ’69

  11. Dear Elaine and Rachel,
    I was so saddened to learn of Flips passing. You are both in my thoughts and prayers. Cynthia and I send our love. God bless.

  12. Mrs. Rayburn and Rachel: You both are in my thoughts and prayers. May God comfort you during this time. Your family has always been so kind to me, and it was a joy to visit y’all while I was attending A-M. Mr. Rayburn will be missed dearly by everyone.

  13. To Elaine, Rachel, and all of Ralph’s family:

    My heart goes out to all of you. Ralph was a very special person and I was honored to know him and work with him as a fellow Sea Grant program leader. He was a great mentor to me when he was chair of the Assembly of Program Leaders and I was the chair-elect. I probably peppered him with 1000s of emails for two years straight and he graciously answered every single one. I enoyed his kind, outgoing personality and admired how he was able to make everyone feel at ease, engaged, and included. He was a true gentleman, and I will miss him, as will everyone else who had the fortune to meet him.

    My condolences to you all – you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. To Mrs. Elaine Rayburn and family. I was shocked when I received the message about Ralph’s untimely death through the 420th network. I remember Ralph as a capable, competent military topographic officer and an invaluable member of the Corps Staff Engineer Section. I also remember our conversation at one of the 420th Association socials about having daughters in the teaching profession and the noble calling of that vocation. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of sadness and loss. Sincerely, Dick and Cathy Withers

  15. Dear Elaine,
    We are greatly sadden and shocked to hear the news from Nga today about Ralph. I could not believe it. I am so so sorry to hear of your loss. We cherished every moment we had with him when you all were out here in Hawaii. We will miss him. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  16. Ralph or Flip, as we knew him in high school had a kind, funny and loving heart. I have many fond memories of him. I am saddened by this sudden loss. May God hold him in his loving arms and bless your family with beautiful memories of his extrodianary life and love.
    My condolences, Christine

  17. Mrs Rayburn and Rachael,Im so very sorry for your sudden loss.Ralph was one of the finest soldiers that I had the honor to serve with.He was genuine in every respect,I shall miss him dearly.You have my most heart felt condolences.CL Turcotte

  18. I was a 1965 graduate of Ray High School where Ralph also attended. We had a class or two together over the years we went to Ray. My heart felt condolences go out to you and your family on the loss of Ralph.

  19. Elaine and Rachel,

    I was stunned beyond belief to hear of Ralph’s passing. I grieve your loss with you to the very depths of my heart. Ralph was one of the finest, most genuine and humble men I have ever met, and I loved him like a brother. He never failed to be kind, never failed to be considerate, never failed to go way out of his way to be helpful to me. He was human so, like all of us, I’m sure he had his shortcomings, but I must say, I never saw any.

    I know his love for my music and dancing with you Elaine, Rachel, Lucy and all the Olde Oaks friends. God willing, we will see you tomorrow and, through the grace of Jesus Christ, I also know we will all see Ralph in heaven one day. May the peace of Jesus be on you and your entire family in this time of sorrow. – David Marquez

  20. To the Rayburn Family,
    I am still in shock of Ralph’s passing. My heart, prayers and thoughts are with you at this sad time. Ralph was a wonderful, friendly, and warm Aggie. He treated everyone as a friend. He was always kind, loving, and had a great smile. His stories at Friday morning breakfast were vivid, funny and always welcomed. The class of ’69 breakfast bunch will miss him dearly. Cherish his life, love and memories. May God Bless him and you.

  21. Dear Elaine and Rachel,
    No words are emough to express my deepest sorrow for you both. My heart breaks for you two and I can only wish you both comfort. May God bless you and keep you always and may you always remember you are two very special people to me.

    Trisha Barrett

  22. Elaine,
    I just wanted you to know my heart goes out to you in your sorrow. I have prayed for your comfort during this time and will continue to pray for you. I know many people from St. Pauls’ that speak very highly of you and Ralph. The many times I have woken up during the night I have prayed for you to get the rest that you need that you will be comforted by our Lord. I know that only through the Lord will you get through this. If there is anything I can do please call me.
    In His Love,
    Linda and Charles Rinehart

  23. Elaine and Rachel,
    We extend our most sincere sympathy to you. Ralph was such a delightfully pleasant person and such a proud father and gentle man. May God’s love surround you and help you through this most difficult period in your lives.
    Randy and Lynda

  24. Ralph and I were friends from First Methodist church in Corpus and though junior high and high school. I remember one special summer at Christian Adventure camp. Ralph and I served on the Junior Counselor in Training team. It was a fun time in our lives and learning to work in the camp kitchen was a ‘growing’ experience for us all! Ralph was always the nicest, most loving guy around. He always took time to say a kind word and had a way of always just ‘being there’. In recent years, I enjoyed seeing him at our reunions. He never changed and continued to be the honorable, caring fellow we all loved. I will miss him.

  25. Joyce is right. for some of us it all goes back to Boy Scouts – the First Methodist Church…..and summer camp in Leaky..and the begining…How could any of us go wrong.?….with the way we were raised in Corpus Christi….no locked doors….and pure innocence..I seem to remember Ralph and Ross living on a Ship our senior year at Ray.High ….Today I went to my cows…and thought about Ralph . He was the best of us…..Jack Love

  26. Elaine, so very sorry to hear about Flip’s death. We grew up together in Corpus, went all the way through school and church together. I met you a number of times, though you may not remember me. Vicki Cook Ferguson and I are very good friends, and she called me Friday.

    He was always the nicest, kindest person in our class. We used to see each other at the Capitol when I was working there and he was lobbying — always enjoyed visiting with him and talking over old times.

    You and your family are in my prayers.


  27. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to learn of your loss. I knew Ralph as a fellow program leader for a number of years.

    Ralph was a true gentleman and a real class act. I always enjoyed his company and valued his advice.

    He was a friend to all and always made me feel better every time I encountered him. I find myself thinking of him often since i learned of his passing. You and your family are in my prayers.

    While I know no words can ease your loss, experience has taught me that the pain eases with time and Ralph’s memory will become a comfort that stays with you always.

    Again, I am truly sorry and I too will really miss Ralph.

    Brian Miller
    Director, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

  28. Rachel – Family – I am very sorry for your loss. May God and your memories comfort you at this difficult time. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  29. My high school memories of Flip are some of my happiest, and I am so very saddened by the news of his death. May God keep all of you in His loving arms.

  30. Dear Elaine, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Flip was always a bright star at all the occasions that I met him. He was bound and determined to memorize the entire song, ‘American Pie.’ And I believe he did! He will be greatly missed. Alice Thorp Hough

  31. Aloha Ralph:
    The Hawaii Sea Grant Ohana thanks you for your outstanding dedication and commitment to Sea Grant. We will miss you and your wonderful leadership, charm and beautiful aloha shirts.

    Our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy are extended to the Rayburn family.

    With much aloha,

  32. Ralph was a luminary in the Sea Grant network, inspiring all of us with his wisdom, energy, insight and kindness…and he lit the way for many of the newest generation of extension agents around the country. His passing is a great loss.

    I offer you this poem from another hero of mine who died too soon this year…..

    On the death of the Beloved

    Though we need to weep your loss,
    You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
    Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.

    Your love was like the dawn
    Brightening over our lives
    Awakening beneath the dark
    A further adventure of colour.

    The sound of your voice
    Found for us
    A new music
    That brightened everything.

    Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
    Quickened in the joy of its being;
    You placed smiles like flowers
    On the altar of the heart.
    Your mind always sparkled
    With wonder at things.

    Though your days here were brief,
    Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

    We look towards each other no longer
    From the old distance of our names;
    Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
    As close to us as we are to ourselves.

    Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
    We know our soul

  33. To express our deep sympathy to you in your loss. We thank ‘Flip’ for serving our country in the U.S. Army. We also thank you for serving as a Marine County agent – also as director Coastal Fisheries – Intergovernmental Affairs for Texas Parks – Wildlife. May God’s Speed Be With You.
    The American Legion
    Earl Graham Post 159

  34. Elaine–We are so sorry for your loss, love and prayers are in our hearts for you–sheila and larry

  35. Rachel,

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  36. Elaine, my sympathy is with you and your daughter in your time of loss.
    The CSHS Exes Prayer Chain are praying for you all.
    Love, Georgia Graham Ward

  37. To the Family of Ralph Rayburn:

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your loved one. I did not know Ralph very well, but my husband (Mike) knew him from his time in the 420th. When Mike passed away, almost two years ago, Ralph sent me a very nice e-mail note about his remembrance of Mike, and it is clear to me that he must have been a very special and considerate person. My prayers are with your family.

  38. Although I didn’t know Ralph well, it was evident that he was a very special person, always with a ready smile and a warm handshake. Words never can convey how sorry I am for your loss. He was a very special person and we are all the better for having known him.

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