Bobbie Patray has been the President of the Tennessee Chapter of the Eagle Forum and lobbyist at the State Capitol since 1987.
Bobbie’s Life Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Bobbie was born in Goodlettsville, TN, in August of 1940. Her Dad, Charles Oakes, was a manager for McClellan’s Dime Stores who traveled around setting up and opening new stores, which meant that she lived in six states and sixteen towns before she started school. During those pre-school years she did some professional performing and stage plays.
When it was time to start school, Dad, Charles and Mother, Jill, moved the family back to Nashville where Bobbie attended the first grade. The following summer Charles took a job with Genesco and moved the family to Starke, Florida, where Bobbie attended elementary school. Junior high found the family in Richmond, Virginia, but high school saw a move back to Starke where Bobbie graduated from Bradford High School in 1957.
Future husband, Ron Patray, was a senior when Bobbie was a freshman at Bradford. When she was a senior, Ron returned from an overseas stint with the Air Force and they started dating. Bobbie attended one semester at Florida State University then returned to Starke where she and Ron were married February 28, 1959.
After working about 18 months Ron started school at the University of Florida where Bobbie worked to put him through BS degree in Electrical Engineering (’64) and a Master’s Degree (’65).
After graduation they moved to Huntsville, AL where Ron took a job with IBM at the height of the space program and where daughter Sherri came along.
The family was very involved in the life of the church, teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir, studying sign language, etc.
It was in the mid-1970s that the wife of the principal at the Christian school where Sherri attended gave Bobbie some materials to read. They were about the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. That opened the door to a world that had been completely foreign to Bobbie’s experience and background “ the world of politics and public policy.
She joined Alabama Eagle Forum where she was active until the family moved to Lexington, KY in 1979. Bobbie joined with other conservatives to start a chapter of Eagle Forum in Lexington, where she served as president until the family moved to Nashville. The last three years in Kentucky, Bobbie also served as a legislative aide in the Kentucky General Assembly.
The Patray family arrived in Nashville in August of 1986, where Bobbie became President of Tennessee Eagle Forum and started at the Capitol in early 1987 as a full-time lobbyist. She has served on a number of boards, committees, and organizations promoting pro-life, pro-family public policies and has received some awards along the way.
God used the casual act of a friend to change Bobbie’s life. He took someone with no political background, education, experience or training and planted into her heart a passion for and commitment to promoting and defending Biblical principles in the market place of ideas while working to pass conservative legislation and public policies.
Bobbie feels so honored and blessed to do what she does and is more excited and passionate about this work than she was 40 years ago when she started.
The Scriptures God gave as a basis for what became Bobbie’s life’s work:
Nehemiah 4:14 “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
2 Chronicles 14:11 “LORD , there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD , you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.”
And the Lord said, “Go”.
And I said, “Who, Me?”
And He said, “Yes, you!”
And I said, “But I’m not ready yet,
and there is company coming
and I can’t leave the kids,
and you know there’s no one
to take my place.”
And He said, “You’re stalling.”
Again the Lord said, “Go!”
And I said, “But I don’t want to.”
And He said, “I didn’t ask you if you want to.”
And I said, “Listen, I’m not the kind of person to get involved in controversy.
Besides, my family won’t like it.” And He said, “Baloney.”
And yet a third time the Lord said, “Go!”
And I said, “Do I have to?”
And He said, “Do you love me?”
And I said, “Look, I’m scared. People are going to hate me, and cut me into little pieces and I can’t take it all by myself.”
And He said, “Go!”
And I sighed, “Here I am Lord, send me.”