Ray Mathis and the Kernersville Family YMCA
Ray Mathis was by far one of the most influential people in establishing the Kernersville Family YMCA and getting the Kernersville Little League started. Ray was born in 1924 in Forsyth County, the son of Dewey Clay and Mary Branon Mathis. He grew up in Winston-Salem, where he attended James A. Gray High School. It was in high school that Ray’s work with the YMCA really began. He started working at the Spruce Street YMCA in Winston-Salem in the early 1940’s as their extension secretary. His job was to reach out to the local neighborhoods and organize events for the community.
When Ray Mathis first had the idea to establish a YMCA in Kernersville, he did not yet have a facility to use. Instead, he would rent a bus and drive around, picking up kids to take them swimming or to play baseball and various other activities. His first office was at Harmon Park. He then moved to a room in the Color House before managing to secure a small space in the basement of the Main Street Baptist Church in which to hold his office. Finally, in the 1960’s a facility was built specifically for the Kernersville Family YMCA with Ray Mathis as its first executive director.
Ray Mathis was also a huge influence in starting the Kernersville Little League. Ray would consistently pick up kids and shuttle them to the various fields around town to play their games. Once the YMCA was established in Kernersville it served as the new base for the Little League. The fields at the YMCA are still used for Little League games today.
In 1994 the Ray Mathis Volunteer Service Award was established in memory of Ray. The award is still given out today to a volunteer and staff person that best exemplifies the energy, enthusiasm and commitment that Ray brought to the YMCA. In 1990 Ray also received recognition for his service to the Kernersville Little League.