Bobby J. Rhay, ex-penitentiary superintendent, dies

WALLA WALLA — Former Washington State Penitentiary superintendent Bobby J. Rhay has died.

His family told the Union-Bulletin that he died Sunday in Walla Walla at the age of 91.

Rhay ran the prison for 20 years starting in 1957 and later was director of corrections for Montana.

Rhay was born in Waitsburg and grew up in Walla Walla. He flew 50 combat missions during World War II with the Army Air Force. After the war he started working at the prison.

During his tenure the penitentiary underwent major changes, adding units and becoming self-sufficient with gardens and raising chickens, pigs and cattle. Education programs taught trades such as barbering, machine repair and auto-body work and painting.

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