TOP PHOTO: Park Ranger Roby Wray, far left, retired after 38 years. A retirement party was held in his honor on Tuesday. He is pictured here with Cove Lake State Park staff.
By Charlotte Underwood
CARYVILLE, TN (WLAF) – Cove Lake State Park Ranger Roby Wray is retiring after 38 years in service. A retirement party was held for him at the park pavilion from noon to 3 pm on Tuesday.
Wray was surrounded by friends, co-workers and colleagues as he celebrated the next chapter of his life.
He is pictured here with Cove Lake State Park Manager Casey Hatmaker who presented Wray with a plaque to commemorate his service.
Cove Lake State Park Manager Casey Hatmaker presented Wray with a plaque and a special collector’s knife upon his retirement from Cove Lake State Park staff.
Director of Operations of Tennessee State Parks Mike Robertson presented Wray with a Tennessee State Parks patch and a special Tennessee State Parks coin to commemorate his retirement.
“Roby has left his mark on Tennessee State Parks throughout his career, especially here at Cove Lake State Park. You’ve had a tremendous career,” Robertson said.
Chief Ranger of Tennessee State Parks Mike Douglas complimented Wray on his career.
Director of Operations for Tennessee State Parks Mike Robertson, left, presented Cove Lake State Park Ranger Roby Wray with a special Tennessee State Parks patch in honor of his retirement.
“He represents the Tennessee State Park Ranger uniform well. Rangers wear many hats, and he’s worn them all well. Roby is noble and carries himself and his values with utmost respect. He is highly revered in our office and across the state,” Douglas said.
Tennessee State Park Area 5 Manager Kim Moore has worked with Roby the longest. He congratulated Wray on his retirement and told some humorous stories from his career.
“Nobody knows Roby is a dancer. He single handedly changed the cotton eyed Joe dance. I met Roby about 36 years ago at Norris Dam State Park. He has not wavered, he has not changed. His faith is the same, his heart is the same. Roby would help you and give you the shirt off his back,” Moore said.
Wray began his park career in maintenance at Norris Dam State Park in 1984 and became a Park Ranger at Cove Lake State Park in 1994. Becoming a Park Ranger was his dream.
Cove Lake State Park Ranger Roby Wray, center, celebrated his retirement on Tuesday. He is holding a plaque commemorating his 38 years of service. Wray is pictured here with Cove Lake State Park Manager Casey Hatmaker, left, and Cove Lake State Park Administrative Assistant Beverly Rooker, right.
“I’m thankful to be here and thankful for all the parks I’ve worked at. I’m thankful to have my mom and dad and wife here today, I’m just blessed.
In all my years I’ve been here, it’s just been a blessing. Ninety-five percent of my career, I’ve been happy. By and large I still love my job, I love the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met have been fantastic,” Wray said.
His retirement plans include learning blacksmithing and finally catching up on his “honey do list.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/20/2023-6AM)