Born in Belgium, the daughter of an American minister, Jo Ray had moved from Brussels to Paris to Bern, Switzerland, by the time she was seven years old. In Bern, she attended the Freies Gymnasium and spoke not only fluent French and German but also English, which was the language spoken to her by her American parents. The snow-covered alps and the Swiss penchant for sports were the natural incentive for Jo Ray's love of ice skating, skiing, swimming, and tennis. After enduring World War II, with its ignominious holocaust and heroic feats by the Allies, Jo Ray's parents sent her and her brother to Pacific Union College (in the Napa Valley), where Jo Ray received a B. A. in English. After teaching English and French in high school for several years, Jo Ray started to take night classes at the University of Southern California in order to earn an M.A. and Ph.D., which would allow her to teach in college. While working on her doctorate, she was first hired to teach English at Glendale Community College and later to serve as Dean of the Evening College. A chance meeting in 1973 with Anthony Winkler, a successful novelist whose stories are usually set in Jamaica, led to a literary partnership that has produced fifteen coauthored textbooks used at colleges and universities across the United States.