Elizabeth Ann “Betty” Ray was born in 1913 in Winnsboro, Texas, and was raised primarily in Oklahoma. In 1934 she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism. After graduation Ray worked for a newspaper in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Ray was later recruited by the war department and served in the Public Relations Bureau in Washington D.C.
In 1942, Ray joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and completed Officer Training School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. She had brief assignments at the training center at Daytona Beach and in Washington, D.C. in the WAAC Headquarters in the Pentagon before being transferred overseas. Ray was sent to the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in Algiers, Algeria, then appointed commander of a WAC intelligence squadron at 15th Air Force Headquarters in Bari, Italy. She returned to the U.S. in late 1945 and was assigned to the inactive reserve.
On May 10, 1949, Ray was reactivated in the Women in the Air Force and sent to Mitchel Field, New York, where she commanded female troops then worked in personnel and public relations. In 1950 she also attended Armed Forces Informational School at Carlisle Barracks. From 1953 to 1955 she served as deputy director of WAF.
From 1955 to 1958, Ray served as executive secretary for DACOWITS (Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services). She then became a director at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. In 1961, Ray was appointed director of WAF, and served in this capacity until her retirement in 1965.