Robert LaMar Bray


ROBERT LAMAR BRAY (1908-1980), the youngest child of Jennie Glenn and Clealon Bray, was born August 23, 1908 in Bingham, Utah. He looked a lot like his father, except for his short stature and his blue eyes, which came from his mother's side of the family. His older brother and sister had brown eyes like their father. When LaMar was born, Clealon and Jennie's marriage was already troubled. It is said that Clealon didn't believe this new baby was his, since he had blue eyes, so he left Jennie and divorced her. Clealon's second wife in Provo later commented that LaMar was the one who looked the most like his father of all the children, hers included. LaMar said that he only remembers seeing his father one time, when Clealon (who had been drinking at the time), visited his children in Bingham and gave them each a silver dollar and some candy.

LaMar was very sick as a baby and almost died, and he was later sent to live with different relatives such as his cousins in Wallsburg, and out in the mining town of Gold Hill (now a ghost town) in the west desert. He mostly grew up in Bingham Canyon, and being short of stature he had to quickly learn to be very tough in order to survive and defend himself in that rough environment.

LaMar married Grace Allene Lumpkin August 19, 1929, when he was almost 21 years old and she was 17. She was born in Antelope District near Myton, Duchesne County, Utah on Feb. 12, 1912, the daughter of Webb L. Lumpkin (1871-1925) and Beulah Mae Elledge (1881-1944). Grace's father had died in 1925 soon after the family lost their homestead in Duchesne County by bankruptcy, and had to move in to Salt Lake. Grace was working to help with the family's expenses.

LaMar and Grace met while swimming at the Municipal Pool in Salt Lake. After they had known each other only a short time and been on only a couple of dates, they went to visit LaMar's sister Wanda and her husband Leonard Mann in Bountiful, who convinced them that they shouldn't wait to marry if they had decided they loved each other. Wanda called the bishop to come and marry them right away.

LaMar and Grace made their first home in Salt Lake, and here their first two children were born:

     GARLAND LaMAR BRAY, (born 18 August 1930),
       married SANDRA SHULER in 1955
     ROBERT ELDON BRAY, (born 11 January 1934).
       married ZONA MARSHALL in 1958.  They had 6 children:
         DANIEL ELDON BRAY (b. 1959)
         REBECCA BRAY (b. 1960)
         ERNEST CLAYTON BRAY (b. 1962)
         NANETTE BRAY (b. 1964)
         JEFFREY NATHAN BRAY (b. 1971)
         SAMUEL LAMAR BRAY (b. 1973, died at birth).

In spite of the family difficulties mentioned above, and the rough environment in which they grew up, Garland and Eldon both later put themselves through college. Garland has degrees in both mathematics and physics, and Eldon is a geologist. Both had successful careers, and they always could count on their parents' love and support.

Eldon's family lived in Copperton, and later in Eldon's work as a geologist they moved to a remote town in British Columbia, accessible only by boat or airplane, and then for a while in Troy, Montana. They also lived in Mackay, Idaho and Casper, Wyoming. They settled at last in Grand Junction, Colorado.



During the years in Salt Lake when LaMar and Grace were first married, Grandpa (LaMar) worked at different jobs, and he also made moonshine whiskey during the prohibition, which lasted until 1933. (LaMar's parents were inactive in the LDS Church. He had been baptized in 1923, when he was 14, but never really became active like his older sister Wanda, who served a mission with her husband Leonard Mann and also worked in the temple. LaMar's brother Liston and his wife were also very active. Grace was baptized into the Church in 1933 when she was 21, when Garland was a baby. Her grandparents and great grandparents on her mother's side had been members, but not her parents. Her mother did maintain some contact with the Church, especially when she lived in Salt Lake. After Grace was baptized, she took her children to church and raised them in it. Garland was baptized in 1941, when he was 10, but the other children were baptized at age eight).

Times were very hard during the depression, and LaMar was often out of work. He used to walk down along the railroad tracks and look for pieces of coal which had fallen from the train cars. LaMar and Grace apparently had marital difficulties. When Garland was just a baby, Grace took him and went down to California for a while, to the Los Angeles area, where her mother Beulah Mae and grandparents (James H. Elledge, 1854-1942, and Mary Ann Wilson Elledge, 1857-1940), had moved. Most of Grace's sisters and brothers also lived in that area. LaMar soon went down to California after Grace, but apparently she didn't want to return with him at that time, so LaMar took Garland back to Utah with him. They stayed for a time with LaMar's mother Jennie Glenn and her parents. LaMar's brother Liston Bray said that when he and his wife paid a visit, they found LaMar out working in the fields and carrying the baby with him. They offered to take care of the baby for a while, and took him to their home in Bingham. After Grace decided to return from California, they reconciled and moved up to Bingham Canyon also, where LaMar found work at the copper mine.

They moved to Copperfield at the top of Bingham Canyon, and here

     LAWRENCE WEBB BRAY was born 22 August 1946.
        He died Aug. 5, 1948

His death was the result of an accident -- he was scalded by hot water which he had tipped over on himself.

Their fourth and last child,

     AFTON GRACE BRAY, was born 28 October 1949
       married (1) DOUGLAS WAYNE ANDERSON, (later divorced)
         had one son: CASEY MELVIN ANDERSON, born 10 August 1978
       married (2) ROBERT EDWARD BABECKI in April 2000

(Afton's older brothers Garland and Eldon were 19 and 15 years old at the time she was born.) Afton later also got her education and took training as a keypunch operator. She became a claims and appeals consultant in the Utah State Office of Disability, Dept. of Social Security. She lives in her parents' old home in Copperton.

Around 1950, the town of Copperfield was going to be torn down to make room for further expansion of the Bingham Copper Mine, so the family moved down to the town of Copperton, below Bingham, in the company housing which were the nicest of modern homes at the time. At first they were renting from the company, but later the residents of Copperton were given first opportunity to buy when the company decided to sell the homes.

At the copper mine, LaMar worked as a brakeman on a train and later as a locomotive engineer for many years. Often he worked the night shift, because the mine was kept in operation 24 hours a day. LaMar enjoyed working at the mine, and his association with many friends of various ethnic backgrounds. They joked around a lot, and called each other by names which would be considered ethnic slurs today, but to those who grew up in Bingham this was just part of life. They were not offended to be called by these names. Everyone had their nicknames also, and LaMar was sometimes called "Fat Bray". It is uncertain just how he got this nickname, because he wasn't fat. He actually was quite small and muscular. For a while Grace also worked up at the mine to help ends meet; she worked as a flagger to signal the trains hauling overburden at the mine. But she said that the men would make remarks and were teasing LaMar too much about his wife working there, so he made her quit.

LaMar liked to go hunting and especially fishing a lot. He would often go down to the Jordan River and take Garland fishing with him from the time he was just a baby. After LaMar's retirement he began having some health problems; at one time he was told that he had lung cancer from smoking. He seemed to bounce back from many things, but he finally passed away April 5, 1980, from a bleeding ulcer in his stomach, at the age of 71. He was a man who was rough on the outside -- a hard drinker and smoker, who swore a lot and liked to tell colorful stories, but he had a very good heart. He loved his family and friends, and often went out of his way to do things for them. He also liked to write humorous poems; he had quite a sense of humor.


Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra Shuler Bray