Ray Spruce

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Ray Spruce

Ray Spruce was an old man who lived in the town of Dead River, Arizona, where he owned and operated Dead River's only general store with the help of his wife, Martha and regularly tended to a cigar store Indian he called Old Chief Wood'nhead. Ray had founded the store in 1919, and, sixty years later, Dead River had fallen on hard times. To Martha's chagrin, Ray, a very optimistic, kind and caring man, never refused a neighbor anything, even if they could not pay.

His kindness earned him the respect of Benjamin Whitemoon, the elder of a local Navajo tribe. The tribe were Ray's steadiest (and most impoverished) customers. As a way of repaying their debts, Benjamin gave Ray the Navajo's ilinii, or sacred jewelry. At first Ray refused, unwilling to take away the ancestral relics, but relented when Benjamin insisted, promising to guard the trinkets with his life. Not long after Benjamin left, the store was robbed by his nephew Sam Whitemoon and his friends "Fatso" Gribbens and Andy Cavenaugh. Sam held Martha hostage with his shotgun whilst his gang looted the store.

When Sam demanded the ilinii, Ray refused. Fatso attempted to take the pouch containing the jewelry away from him, but the elderly shop owner managed to fend the hoodlum off, until an annoyed Sam shot and killed Martha. Horrified, Ray attempted to come to his wife's aid, and received a shotgun blast to the stomach. He fell and died instantly.


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