Okie's Market store manager retires after 40 years


April 24, 2024

Nick Nikkala

Glenn Ray prepares to move to Spokane with his wife to enjoy retirement

Glenn Ray, the longtime manager of the Okie's Select Market in Naselle is retiring. On April 30, the reins will be passed on to Leonard McGrath who has served for a number of years as the Assistant Manager for the Okie's store in Ocean Park. Ray's work history is interwoven within the history of the Okie's stores themselves. Okie Johnson first opened the Naselle store in 1967. When deciding to retire, he passed the store on to his two daughters Carol and Joyce. The two sisters married two young men, Mel Schisler and Ted Herriot, who served in the Air Force at the Naselle radar station. Together, the two families ran the store. Some time prior to 1978, Mel and Carol Schisler acquired the store in Ocean Park.

At this point, sixteen-year-old Ray entered the picture as a box boy hired by Schisler for the Ocean Park store. Ray worked at the store during his last two and a half years of high school, while also working summers in the oyster industry. Schisler liked what he saw in the young man and, upon his high school graduation in 1980, convinced him he had a future in the business. That proved to be true as, over the next four years, Schisler advanced Ray's position multiple times at the store. When the Schislers bought out the Herriots in 1984, Ray was asked to move into the manager's position at the Naselle store. He did and has served in that position for the past forty years. During that time, the Schislers retired leaving the two stores to their son, Rich, who is the current owner. Upon his retirement, it is anticipated the stores will come under the fourth-generation ownership of son, Taylor. The Naselle-Grays River Valley community owes a great deal of gratitude to Johnson, his heirs, and to Ray. The store has been the salvation of many residents who would otherwise have to travel considerable distances to Cathlamet, South Bend, Long Beach or Astoria to purchase food for their tables.

Ray leaves a legacy that greatly exceeds the job requirements of a manager position. Over the years he has arranged an amazing array of donations to the two area food banks, the local American Legion post and the post's Auxiliary Unit, the Naselle-Grays River Valley School's Christmas event, cheerleaders, and sports teams. He led a fund-raiser for Naselle's first responders which provided each of them and their guest with a nice Christmas dinner at the Silver Salmon. He has helped fill food baskets to provide those in need with food items for Thanksgiving. When Covid-related shutdowns resulted in a toilet paper shortage, Ray spent hours on internet searches to locate a possible supplier. That effort paid off with Okies receiving pallets of the needed paper. According to customers at that time, it was the only source of toilet paper in the entire area. During inclement weather, when employees didn't feel safe to be on the road, he drove to their homes and picked them up. When employees wanted to take a vacation and staffing was short-handed, he assumed their shifts. Not seeking the limelight, Ray was involved in many forms of community service and a willingness to go the "extra mile" known only to a few.

In regard to the transition of store leadership, Ray commented, "It's a good thing that Leonard McGrath has a long history with the Okie's stores. It's not like having someone versed in another grocery chain's procedures who might come in and change how the store is run. Leonard will make a pretty seamless transition as he takes over the manager responsibilities. That continuity will be good for, and appreciated by, our customers."

With a thoughtful smile, Ray noted, "I am deeply thankful for how the community accepted me and allowed me to be here for them. I have really loved working here. It is a great community, and I will miss seeing my friends and neighbors on a daily basis."

Ray and his wife Laura are planning a move to the Spokane/Idaho area. The first couple that looked at their Naselle home made a purchase offer which was accepted by the Rays and the required inspections are now underway. For Laura, it will be a long-anticipated homecoming with relatives and longtime friends living in the Spokane area. Ray's last day at the store will be April 30 and an opportunity for community members to drop by the store to express their thanks and best wishes.


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