Wallace was born in Clarksdale, Missouri. He worked as a logger for much of his life, but also in road construction throughout much of Washington, Oregon and California. He served in the Army during World War II as an aircraft gunner. Wallace finally settled in Toledo, Washington in 1961.
In August 1958, the Humboldt Times of Eureka, California, was the first to use the term "Bigfoot" in their story about huge footprints found by a worker of Wallace's Humboldt County construction company.
Upon Wallace's death, his son Michael revealed that Wallace was in possession of large wooden feet. It was suggested that Wallace used these wooden feet to stamp imprints around northern California as a prank. There is no quoted evidence to suggest Ray Wallace admitted to doing this himself. Several researchers have questioned the Wallace family's intentions in this. Though the news made headlines in the New York Times.
Since this time however, his other friends have told many sources (Kris Murray amongst them) that the plaster feet were used by others to fool Ray, not that Ray was doing the fooling, he was being fooled. Kris Murray was told the story by Mike was to in part take over the assets of his parents. Furthermore, Kris was informed by another family friend that they knew who commissioned the suit used in the Patterson-Gimlin film and because that person didn't get the royalties from the film he stole something from the character (names forthcoming). Wallace also put out a country album including some of his recorded BigFoot Screams, called "BigFoot" by Don Jones.
Wallace died in a Centralia, Washington nursing home at the age of 84.