Bobby Ray Few, 1934-2023


Bobby Ray Few passed away on Thursday, Jan. 12 after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was born in Carlsbad, N.M. on July 21, 1934, the only child of Raymond B. Few and Dulcina (Bailey) Few. After his mother died when he was young, he was lovingly reared in Mineola by Raymond and Frances (Calvery) Few. Left to mourn his absence is his wife of 34 years, Susan; his daughter, Karen and husband, Kenneth Rigsby; granddaughter, Kelli Rae; grandson, Kenny and wife, Julie Rigsby; great-grandchildren, Evangelina Hope and Bravery Quinn; several cousins in Texas and New Mexico; nieces and nephews in Ohio; and the many friends from a life well lived here and across the country.

Bob attended Mineola High School and Tyler Junior College. He joined the Army in 1953 and reported to Camp Chafee, Ark. To his life-long regret, he was soon medically discharged after the doctor learned he had polio as a child. In 1959, he was hired as a welder at the General Electric plant in Tyler and became interested in the union. He was soon elected president of Local 782, International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, now CWA, a job that fit his innate desire to help those in need and work to improve their lives. 

Bob became an international service representative for the IUE in December 1965 and moved to Garland. He became District 11 Education Director in 1985 and remained a co-director until his retirement. As a service representative, he led negotiations and arbitrations for union members at Rockwell International, Wagner Electric, Cook Machinery, Frederick Air Conditioner and numerous other industrial plants. As education director, he was skilled in training local union officers and stewards in the proper and ethical way to handle grievances and represent members. He taught seminars on labor relations, representation and labor history at the University of Arkansas and University of Missouri. As an active member of the Texas AFL-CIO, he coordinated organizing efforts on behalf of the IUE, lobbied for stronger labor laws, stronger health and safety regulations, and participated in programs to improve the working lives of workers.  

Bob was a life-long Baptist, first attending the Golden Baptist Church where he served as a lay minister. After joining the First Baptist Church in Mineola, he proudly served as a Sunday School teacher. While living in Garland, he transferred membership to the North Side Baptist Church in Irving, and after returning to Mineola prior to retirement, he and Susan attended the First Baptist Church. After a few years of enjoying retirement, Bob became involved with the Mineola Historical Museum and joined the board where he proudly served for many years. As a supporter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, he became a HODAR for the Mineola chapter and assisted and participated in many community activities. 

Bob genuinely cared about helping others and never met a stranger. His gregarious personality along with his sharp wit and cheerful manner quickly drew others into warm conversations and built strong bonds of friendship. His innate common sense, integrity and strong Christian faith gained him respect and admiration as a trusted representative for the union as well as from all those he met on his life’s journey.    

The family extends compliments and heartfelt appreciation to all the caregivers and staff at Oak Hills Terrace Memory Care center in Tyler for their love and compassionate care. Grateful thanks also to the care-giving team of Heart to Heart Hospice for their support and compassionate care for Bob and his family.

The Lord was clearly in control as Bob met his Savior while family and the Hospice chaplain were at his side to ease his passing.

Donations to Heart to Heart Hospice or Alzheimer’s Association of Smith County will help them continue fulfilling their mission statements of compassionate care and assistance.  Interment will be at Roselawn Cemetery and services scheduled later.