Ray M & Mary Peffer Memorial Fund

Ray and Mary clamming

Ray Marvin Peffer was born March 16, 1892, on a farm at Dillar, Nebraska. His father was a railroad foreman of building construction who turned to farming when new land was opened. In 1893 the family moved on to Oregon by train to settle and farm near Dayton. Ray attended the public school in Dayton and graduated in 1911. He helped on the farm as a young man and developed a lifelong interest in the outdoors from his youth in the country. Mary Lines Peffer was born August 8, 1892, in Albany. Her family lived on a farm acquired by early Linn County ancestors. Mary went to a country school at Knox Butte for the first eight grades, then did her high school work in Salem and Albany.

Ray and Mary met at Willamette University where they both attended for a year before transferring to other schools.  Mary transferred to Oregon Agricultural College to earn her teaching certificate, and she taught elementary grades in Linn and Umatilla counties for four years. Ray transferred to Hobart College in Geneva, New York, at the invitation of a coach who recognized his outstanding athletic ability. Ray played football, baseball and participated in field events during his college years.

At the onset of World War I, Ray interrupted his education to enlist in the Army. Ray served in Germany and France until the Armistice, fighting in several major battles of the war. At the war’s end, he remained in France to study general courses at the University of Montpellier for a term. During World War I, Mary took a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad to help with the war effort. She did accounting in Portland and San Francisco until the war’s end, then she returned to Corvallis. 

Upon his return to the United States from France, Ray enrolled at Pacific Chiropractic College in Portland and graduated in 1922. He opened an office in Corvallis near Third and Jefferson Streets. Mary was working as a secretary in the Oregon State College Athletic Department and as an auditor for the Business Office at the time. The couple reunited and married in 1927. For many years, Ray and Mary lived in downtown Corvallis, then moved out to the country to a lovely home on Plymouth Road. As evidence of their special love for nature, they planted and painstakingly cared for many plants and trees on their property, remaining active gardeners well into their late eighties.

Though Ray engaged in private practice for forty-five years, he was very active in community service. As a long serving member of the Rotary Club of Corvallis, Ray signed the Articles of Incorporation for BCF. He also represented the club at the International Convention in Mexico City. A member of the American Legion, Elks, and Masonic Lodge, Ray spent four years as Scout Master of Troop 2. And he enjoyed singing bass with the Corvallis Men’s Chorus in his earlier years.

Local history and genealogy were of great interest to the Peffers. They both belonged to the Benton County Historical Society and Ray was a donor to the Oregon State Historical Society. He served as president of the Men’s Garden Club, and was known for his kindly manner and conscientious dedication to whatever he would undertake. Ray loved the outdoors, and recreation and conservation organizations appealed to him. He helped develop recreational fish and game opportunities as a member of the Wildlife and Recreation Board. For six years he worked on the Benton County Park Board and served as its president. His professional activities included a term as district president of the Oregon Chiropractic Physicians and service with the State Board of Examiners. He was a sustaining member of the National College of Chiropractors. He retired from his practice in 1967. Ray passed away in January of 1983.

Mary was also active in community service. She served as president for many of the organizations she joined, including: Corvallis Women’s Club, Corvallis Garden Club, the Benton County Historical Society, and the Women’s Association of the Federated Church. Mary held office as state president of the Women’s Association of Chiropractic Physicians for a year. She was a regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a member of Eastern Star and the American Legion Auxiliary. She belonged to the OSU Folk Club, the American Association of University Women, the Art Guild, and the Red Cross Board.

In 1964 Mary was honored as a “Woman of Achievement” at the Matrix Table, sponsored by Theta Sigma Phi. She enjoyed traveling through the United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. Mary’s sparkling personality conveyed warmth and wit, intelligence, and interest. She was a resident of the Heart of the Valley Care Center until her death on July 1, 1989.