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Water Specialist Emeritus Ray E. Cross passed away in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 93 years old.
Cross spent the better part of a lifetime engaged in water quality treatment. He started a Culligan dealership in Ann Arbor in 1947, which he later expanded to Port Huron and South Lyon, Mich. In 1960, he was named president of Water Conditioning Association International (WCAI), a precursor to today’s Water Quality Association (WQA). Over the past 60 years, Cross has been a strong supporter of both WQA and the Water
Quality Research Foundation (WQRF).
His most recent example of philanthropy and support of our industry came in March 2006, when, at his 60th consecutive convention, Mr. Cross announced a challenge to members of the WQA. He offered to match every new dollar contributed to WQRF, for a period of one year, up to $300,000. Money donated as part of the “Ray Cross Challenge” goes toward an endowment that guarantees ongoing water quality research.
The challenge fulfilled one of Cross’ lifelong dreams—to provide something within the water industry that would benefit all of mankind. In a statement released in conjunction with the donation, he said, “I am proud to support the Water Quality Research Foundation, and give back to the industry that has given so much to my family and me over the years. I know that money generated from this endowment will benefit the water quality industry and improve water for countless generations.” As of July 31, 2006, the challenge had raised over $78,000, with 212 donors.
Cross will be remembered by many in the industry, including staff at the WQA, for his efforts to advance water quality treatment. “Ray was president of WCAI near the beginning of this industry’s formation. He was one of the great leaders who truly set our course as water treatment industry professionals,” said WQA Executive Director Peter J. Censky. “Every member—and every customer of our industry—is a little better for what Ray contributed,” he said.
WQA Technical Director Joseph F. Harrison, P.E., CWS-VI, worked with Cross as liaison to WQRF. He echoed Censky’s comments and underscored just how much Cross’ involvement has meant and will continue to mean. “Ray has shown tremendous benevolence to this industry, in support of quality water for all. His was the largest single bequest ever received by WQRF. He will always be remembered and honored for his commitment and generosity,” Harrison said.
Research was just one of the areas in which Cross was involved. Over his lifetime, he was a member of 101 different WQA task forces and committees. In the process, he has received many accolades from WQA—including creation in 2003 of the Ray E. Cross Award, presented annually to current and former WQA members whose pioneer spirit and unwavering commitment has made a notable difference in the water treatment industry. Cross was the first recipient of the award he inspired. He has also been honored with the Award of Merit (1982 and 1996), Lifetime Member Award (1985) and Hall of Fame Award (1998).
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Cross will be posted on the WQA website as they become available. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ray Cross Challenge Grant Fund.