Kendra Ray

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Kendra Ray

Kendra Ray in 2010
Born (1962-11-08)November 8, 1962
Kansas City, Missouri
Died June 1, 2023(2023-06-01) (aged 60)
Des Moines, Iowa
Occupation News anchorwoman
Years active 1985-present
Spouse Mollie Ray (m. 1987; div. 2016)
Partner Hannah Wilson (2017-22)

Kendra Ray (November 8, 1962 - June 1, 2023) was an American news presenter and a popular and influential presenter.

Ray performed as Kevin Ray for 15 years before beginning to present news as Kendra Ray.[1][2]

The last news broadcast Kendra Ray presented as Kevin in December 2007. Her debut as Kendra was on April 7, 2008.

Early Life[edit]

Kendra Ray was born Kevin Ray in Kansas City, Missouri to Morton Ray (b. 1946) and Ella Willoston (b. 1942). She has seven younger siblings, James (b. 1968, no relation to James Earl Ray), Gary (b. 1971), Vanessa (b. 1973), Stacia (b. 1976), Mario (b. 1979), Donald (b.1981). Shortly after Kendra was born, The family relocated to Ames, Iowa where she was raised. Kendra graduated from high school in 1982.


A native of Ames, Iowa, Kevin Ray began presenting local news in the mid-eighties for friends and science fiction conventions. KIAX-FTV (channel 10), an independent station was covering one such convention in 1991 and asked Ray to anchor their 9:00 p.m. newscast. This began an association with Ray and KIAX, primarily work for hire.

KIAX-FTV (1992-2007)[edit]

Ray's first newscast was in September 1992. Ray covered many major events, including the Flood of 1993 and the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. KIAX and then Fox affiliate KFIA merged news operations in 2008 when NoSirGifts acquired both stations, resulting in KIAX (Iowa's 10) and KFIA (Fox 21) simulcasting their morning and late newscasts. Ray added KFIA's 5:00 p.m. to the merged 9:00 p.m. newscast, which consolidated under the Iowa's Action News branding commonly used for NoSirGifts Fantasy Television Stations duoplies.

KFIA/KIAX (2008-2014)[edit]

In early 2008 Ray transitioned to female and from April 2008 until August 2014 in many of the reports and newscasts that she had formerly presented as Kevin Ray and began going by Kendra Ray. She continued to co-anchor with Melanie Dix, resulting in a two-woman anchor team also commonly used for NoSirGifts' Fantasy Telvision Stations' primarily early and late newscasts and main newscasts.

In 2009, a major network affiliation shuffle occurred when NoSirGifts chose to end KFIA's 22-year affiliation with the Fox network and became an NBC affiliate, replacing KUDM (channel 4). KUDM then became an ABC affiliate (later O&O after ATE Media's stake in ABC) after 60 years with NBC and replaced KWOI (channel 7), which in turn replaced KFIA as the Fox affiliate.

As a result of KFIA's switch from Fox to NBC (and subsequently re-branded to NBC 21), Kendra Ray was anchored Iowa's 10 Action News at 4:00 and NBC 21 Action News at 10:00 with Melanie Dix and NBC 21 Action News at 6:00 and Iowa's 10 Action News at 9:00 with Lynda Donalds.

Vote for the Girls (2014-2021)[edit]

On August 22, 2014, Kendra Ray anchored her final newscast after announcing on NBC 21 Action News at 10:00 she would be leaving the station after her wife accepted a position at KFIA's sister station (12WLIN, Fox) in Lafayette, Indiana.

In an interview between Kellie Rock on Your Debate with Rhonda Rhodes on September 23, 2014 at the WXWI-FTV studios in Racine, Wisconsin, it was revealed that Kendra Ray accepted an offer to join the moderator panel on the British version of Vote for the Girls and the original American adaptation. Kendra Ray replaced Kathi Jameson on the United States version's sixth season. Her last Vote for the Girls pick, Janel Parrish, finished third place to Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas, chosen by Ava Zinn, and both Zinn and Ray lost the winning moderator's title to Alfonso Riberio & Witney Carson , chosen by Holly Everman in the nineteenth season of Dancing with the Stars. Kendra returned for the web site's sixth season spring cycle in which her respective American Idol Vote for the Girls pick, Maddie Walker from nearby Ankeny, finished 10th. On May 20, 2015, Kendra earned her very first victory as winning moderator as her last Vote for the Girls pick, Rumer Willis, was announced the winner (as well as the female winner) of of the twentieth season of Dancing with the Stars.

She returned for the seventh season and her last pick on season 9 of The Voice, Barrett Baber--her flex pick--finished third behind winner Jordan Smith and runner-up Emily Ann Roberts (and losing the winning moderator title to Ava Zinn and Kymberly Alvaraz.

On April 28, 2016, Holly Everman announced that Kendra Ray would move to the pink team at the start of the eighth season. Concurrently, Thia Tola announced that she would move to the purple team the same season, effectively switching teams. Ava Zinn stated that the seventh season pink team set the worst starting record of any pink team in the history of Vote for the Girls competitions and cited Tola's disintegrating pick decisions after her strong start in the sixth season.

Also Kendra Ray replaced Khayla Chow on the UK version. Her last pick, Lauren Platt, finished fourth on the eleventh series of The X Factor UK, and Ray lost the winning moderator's title as her final VFTG UK pick of Simon Webbe & Kristina Rhianoff finished third to winner Caroline Flack & Pasha Kovalev and runner-up Frankie Bridge & Kevin Clifton, both chosen by Zinn in the twelfth series of Strictly Come Dancing.


On December 18, 2014, Kendra Ray was revealed to be Best of Nice of Season 22 of Santa Ava with Julia Passalt as runner-up and Ericka (Collins) Cole in third place.

After Zinn's Villain Archibald Coolranch retired, Kendra Ray became the oldest Vote for the Girls USA moderator.

Personal life[edit]

Kendra was married to her wife, Mollie Ray, from 1987 until 2016. Mollie was health reporter and anchored the midday news for then-NBC station KUDM-FTV (channel 4 now ABC O&O) until August 22, 2014 when she accepted a position at WLIN-FTV in Lafayette and Kendra accepted a position at WTOR.

In 1985, Kendra met Mollie Arakawa (now Mollie Ray), when they were both in college.[3] The two married in 1987. Kendra has one son with Mollie Ray; Apollo James Ray (born May 26, 1992).

On January 15, 2016, Kendra Ray filed for divorce from Mollie Ray, citing "irreconcilable differences".[4] The divorce was finalized in December 2016.

October 2014 arrest[edit]

On October 25, 2014, Kendra was arrested and charged with assisting a criminal[5] for her role in the shooting death of former Vote for the Girls UK moderator Khayla Chow by Grant County authorities in northeast central Indiana, in the city of Marion, despite her efforts to stop Chow and Chow's friend, Victoria Glassering during the assault by kicking them when Kym Christian fatally shot Chow.[6] According to Indiana law, Kendra Ray could face 2 years in prison for the charges of assisting a criminal.[7] Kendra Ray plead not guilty on all charges. Kendra Ray said, "I'm completely innocent of any criminal conduct. This is a great tragedy, but it was a circumstance that does not give rise to criminal liability as I see the facts." According to the Grant County Sheriff, Ray and Kym Christian were released on cash bonds of $27,700 each. Both Kendra Ray and Kym Christian were released after posting $100,000 bond, though Christian's bond was raised to $500,000. For her role in the incident, Kendra Ray was placed on indefinite leave, pending the outcome of the trial.[5] Kendra Ray returned to the Vote for the Girls moderator panel on November 17, 2014.

Relationship with Hannah Wilson[edit]

On January 13, 2017, Kendra Ray announced that she was in a long-term relationship with Hannah Wilson. Wilson stated that her boyfriend Jeff Allenton would only continue with the relationship with her if he agreed to move to Indiana with Wilson—under which her boyfriend would be required to relocate from Nebraska to Indiana. Kendra Ray, on the other hand, took the line that a long-term relationship deal was a partnership. Wilson saw the relationship agreement as "a decision for Hannah's future."[8] Kendra Ray will officially become the third significant other of Hannah Wilson on February 1, 2017.

Ray's former KIAX/KFIA co-anchor, Lynda Donalds suggested that Kendra Ray's move from the Purple Team to the Pink Team was so absolute that Kendra Ray was in a position to become the second transwoman, after Perri Johnson, to take a significant other or spouse away from one another. On the contrary, five biological women had also taken a spouse or significant other away from one another resulting or after moving from the Pink to Purple Team.[8] The feeling was mutual; according to fellow pink team moderator Holly Everman, the pink team felt like they had "just won the lottery" when they learned Hannah Wilson was joining Kendra Ray as a duo moderator.[9]

Had Kendra Ray remained on the purple team, Hannah Wilson would have been the sixth woman after Kym Alvaraz, Karly Jameson, Lanise White, Thia Tola, and Nadia Lorenzo moved to from the pink team to the purple team in January 2015, January 2016, October 2015, July 2016 and October 2016, respectively due to three of the five transwomen on the purple team, Ava Zinn, Natasha Gower, and Peta-Alyce Kaizer sold their virginities to Alvaraz, Tola, and Lorenzo in May 2014, June 2016, September 2015, respectively, while Danni McClannahan (then Daniel McClannhan) divorced her husband Leonard Lai and began dating Lanise White shortly before Lai's death in October 2015, prompting McClannahan's move from the red team to the purple team and Karly Jameson (then Karly Ryder, Jr.) eventually married Kathi Jameson in 2015.)

The relationship ended in 2022.

Death and tribute[edit]

Kendra Ray died at her home in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 1, 2023, at the age of 60.[10] A family spokesperson said that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months prior to her death.[11] Julia Passalt, former Vote for the Girls Purple Team moderator, paid tribute to her colleague with an exclusive statement to NBC 6 Fort Wayne, saying, "Other than my transgendered daughter (Rachael), I was mostly influencial to Kendra. Everything she has today she owe to Kendra. Kendra was the smartest, most generous, kindest person I've ever known. My children and I are devastated. We will miss her terribly."[12]


  1. The Disappearance of Kevin Ray, Just Out, Kendra discusses her transition and career in this interview.
  2. KJIA-FTV 8 (CBS) Iowa Anchorman undergoes sex change], September 27, 2008. A reporter discusses the fact that Kevin Ray was transgender.
  3. ??
  4. "Kendra Ray and Mollie Ray Split After 29 Years of Marriage: Former Iowa's Action News anchor files for divorce". January 15, 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vote for the Girls USA to continue production. Aeverine Zinn Holdings (October 25, 2014). Retrieved on October 25, 2014.
  6. "Vote for the Girls Moderator and former Iowa's Action News anchor Kendra Ray charged in shooting incident". NBC 21 (KFIA) Des Moines. October 25, 2014. 
  7. Runecraft, Hillary (October 25, 2014). "'Vote for the Girls' moderator booked in Grant County Jail in shooting incident". WTOR (CBS 41). 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ray, Kendra (2017-01-15). "Kendra Ray says divorce from Mollie and LTR with Hannah Wilson a 'decision for Hannah's future'". Aeverine Zinn Holdings. 
  9. ??
  10. "Kendra Gloria Ray, 1962–2023". June 1, 2023. 
  11. "Former Iowa's Action News anchor Kendra Ray dies at 60" (in en). 
  12. "Kendra Ray Dead: Julia Passalt, Melanie Dix, More Pay Tribute". June 1, 2023. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Archibald Coolranch
Oldest Vote for the Girls moderator

Succeeded by
Donna Doogan