Isabel Van Huffel Dray

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Isabel Mary Van Huffel Dray, 96, of Asheville, N.C., died peacefully in her home surrounded by family on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

Isabel was born on Sept. 23, 1917 in Mishawaka, Ind., the daughter of Isadore J. Van Huffel and Elizabeth De Clerque Van Huffel. She was the sixth of seven children.

At the age of 7, her family moved to Warren, where her father founded The Van Huffel Tube Corporation. She spent the remainder of her childhood and most of her adult life living there amongst her large extended family.

In Warren, she went to St. Mary’s Grade School and Warren G. Harding High School. She then graduated from St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., where she met her husband, Joseph F. Dray, who was a student at Notre Dame University. She finished her education at the Tobe-Coburn School of Fashion in New York City.

In 1942, she and Joseph married. During World War II she lived with her family in Warren, while Joseph was serving in the U.S. Navy stationed in the South Pacific.

They returned to Ohio after the war, where they started The Dray Company, a furniture and decorating business. Isabel was a steadfast support to Joseph in his business life and a great companion for him in his personal life. They had an active social life and enjoyed many close friends.

As they reached retirement age they spent most of their winters in Highland Beach, Fla. In 1998, they moved to Asheville, N.C., to be near family.

Isabel was a devoted wife and a loving mother. She was proud of her family and a good and loving friend. She nurtured independence in her children and love and affection in her grandchildren. She was a loyal partner with her husband, Joseph, both in life and in business. She was deeply loved by her family. She took great joy in living and had an extraordinary sense of humor. She was able to laugh at herself.

She was a lifelong Roman Catholic and possessed a deep faith in her religion.

She had the good fortune to die in peace at home surrounded by her family who now celebrate her life and mourn her loss.

She is survived by her husband of 71 years, Joseph Dray; her sister, Evelyn Reese Lawlor and her two children, Cheryle Remley and Dr. Gregory Dray and their spouses, William E. Remley and Dr. Lydia Jeffries. She is also survived by seven grandchildren, Katherine, James and Stephen Remley and his wife Kim, Elizabeth and Joseph Dray and their mother Andrea Dray, Eric and Blake Johnson; and two great grandchildren, Matthew and Connor Remley.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Isadore and Elizabeth Van Huffel; and five siblings, Edgar, Harold, Carolyn (Guarnieri), Howard, and her twin brother Albert.

Condolences may be made online at

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