Ray Munroe, who founded Mays-Munroe Appliances with his wife Peggy, passed away on January 27, 2021 at the age of 86. He was laid to rest on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 at Roselawn Cemetery. The service was officiated by Reverend Matt Hall and attended by friends and family.
Munroe told a reporter in 1998 that “I feel like every American should have the opportunity to start a business from scratch without having deep pockets.”
And that is what he and his wife did.
A 63-year journey that began with a three month courtship after a chance encounter at a drive-in theater on South Monroe Street, Ray and Peggy Munroe started a small family run business that would grow to become a Tallahassee institution.
After working various occupations for about 15 years, the Munroe’s bought Mays Appliances in 1973, which was located downtown on Tennessee Street. The name was changed to Mays-Munroe Appliances.
The business prospered over the years despite the competition with big box stores due, in large part, to a focus on customer service and creative marketing ideas.
Ray and Peggy became the talk of the town with a series of commercials that featured banter between the two and ended with Ray in the “dog-house.” Their entrepreneurial spirit and championing of small business issues became well-known throughout the community.
“My parents are go-getters. They started this business with nothing and built it into what it is,” said their son Mark Munroe.
The business added a second location in 1987 in Northeast Tallahassee after their son Ray Jr, who had a degree in physics from FSU, determined that the geographic center of the Leon County’s population growth would soon be near Capital Circle Northeast and I-10.
Ray was active in politics, social causes and aggressively advocating for local policies that helped small businesses.
Ray was a longtime member and past president of the Lions Club where he helped raise money for the blind. He was also active on the business front as the President of the Westside Business Association which represented businesses along Tennessee Street. He fought against impact fees levied on expanding business and advocated for a sign ordinance that was beneficial to small businesses.
“I feel when you put all of these bureaucratic rules in place, you limit the little man. And I hate the devil out of that”, said Munroe.
And when the widening of Capital Circle Northeast threatened the viability of local businesses in the area, Ray and Peggy were part of an effort in the 1990’s that created the Northeast Business Association.
The organization continues today under the name Network of Entrepreneurs and Business Advocates. The group is well known for holding political debates focused on business issues.
Ted Thomas, a local businessman and former President of NEBA, said “Ray was a man of his convictions. He believed in good service and a warm response to what you needed or wanted in an appliance or its repair. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. I never talked with him when he didn’t have a story about growing up and the laughter he enjoyed his entire life. I will miss him today and everyday. He was a good friend.”
When Ray and Peggy lost their oldest son, Ray Munroe Jr, to a massive heart attack in 2012, the Munroe’s turned their grief into a call for community action. Peggy said, “we wanted to do something that might prevent other parents from going through that devastation. We also wanted to make sure that Ray, Jr, was not forgotten.”
The result was the Have a Heart Celebration which raised funds designated for The Ray Munroe, Jr, PHD, Endowment at the TMH Foundation.
Commenting on Munroe’s passing, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor said “Ray Munroe represented the complete package as an entrepreneur and business Civic leader. Ray had a folksy appeal that made him and his wife Peggy very much admired throughout our community. The down-home energy that he and Peggy convey enabled their business to thrive and maintain a high level of success for multiple decades.”
And former Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge said “Ray Munroe was a tireless advocate for the business community, and the consummate entrepreneur. Ray’s impact will be felt for decades.”
Ray was born on January 20, 1935 in Quincy, Florida. He was the third of seven children. He played football at Quincy High School where he graduated in 1953. He was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity and graduated from Florida State University in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Ray also spent many years serving in the National Guard.
Ray Bailey Munroe, Sr is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret Arnow Munroe “Peggy”; his children Mark (Teresa), Michael “Mike” (Ellen), and Meghan (Robert Lisson); daughter-in-law, Lisa; sister, Ruth Bradley; sister, Marion Temple “Tee” (Wilson Hinson); brother, James Donald “Don”; his grandchildren, Caitlin Munroe, Benjamin Munroe, Melanie Munroe, Sean Munroe, Laura Munroe, Mark Munroe Jr, Hope Lisson, Amelia Lisson, and Hailey Lisson; and many nieces and nephews.
Ray was predeceased by son, Ray Jr; sister, Mary Radcliffe; brother, Mark; sister, Ellen; his parents Mark Welch Munroe, Jr. and Ruth Bailey Munroe.