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Refugees reflect on legacy of Former Governor Robert Ray

Many immigrants came over after the Vietnam War

DES MOINES - Admiration continues to pour in for beloved former Governor Robert D. Ray. He passed away Sunday at the age of 89.

During the Vietnam War, Governor Ray welcomed refugees from Asian countries. Local 5 caught up with two families who praised the former governor for all his help, as they got used to life in America.
Ray was known for his visionary leadership. During his five terms in office, his decisions impacted the entire state in a big way.

He is especially known for inviting immigrants into the Hawkeye State after the Vietnam War.

"In 1975 the communist come again to the south side but we run here because the communist are no good," said Ngat Stougard, whose husband Larry was a veteran in the military. 

The Stougards say they are forever grateful to Governor Ray. If he hadn't opened Iowa's borders, they may have never met.

"He was a good man," said Larry Stougard. "I knew him personally and he really was a great guy."

Many questioned if refugees would adapt to American life, but Thomas Baccam says the former governor helped him adjust and make a new life in Des Moines when he came over from Laos.

"He's a smart man and have a vision and the people of Iowa too are good and so help us when we first come here and they help us with a new life here," said Baccam. "They teach us the culture the language and how to work in the country."

Baccam is proof that Ray made the right choice in fighting for people of different backgrounds.

"Governor Ray is a good leader," he said. "And Iowans are a nice people."

The entire immigrant community feeling the loss of Ray, but are still remembering him for his incredible influence. 

"You never hear anything bad about that man, everything was good," said Larry Stougard. "Yeah, he was a politician, but he was a good politician and he did a lot of good for a lot of people."

Members of the Asian community will play a large role in the procession for Governor Ray on Thursday.

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