He did many great things in his life, from serving his country in battle in World War II to testifying on behalf of the FBI in a trial that made news headlines; from being one of the first in his family to achieve a college degree to starting his own business. His achievements have been recognized and honored by everyone from the Knights of Columbus to the Catholic church. Of all these accomplishments and honors, however, the accomplishment Raymond would consider his greatest was his role as the quintessential family man.
Raymond recognized long before it was mainstream to do so that one's family was not just those people who shared a bloodline; it was also those people who shared traditions, culture and, most of all, a desire to do good. To that end, Raymond strove not just to provide the best possible life and opportunities for his beloved wife and daughters, but also to serve his town, Bennington, his church and his community. Everyone who knows Ray, knows the door to his and his wife's home was always open; everyone was welcome in this home, regardless of race, color or creed. Ray spent his life dedicated to this larger notion of family, to educating, caring for and serving his community. He believed that life wasn’t about being a war hero or a star witness for the FBI or even the world’s best dad—which his daughters will assure you that he was!—it was about more than that; it was about being a peacemaker, a facilitator. . .in the most humble terms, a servant.
Ray was the glue that held together many different personalities and viewpoints and strove always to provide a common goal, a common purpose, an all-encompassing love and acceptance.
He took great joy and pride in his daughters and grandchildren, in surrounding himself with an ever-growing family. As a wise person once said, ‘No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet’ and Ray was no exception!
We lost the physical presence of this great family man on Wednesday, January 19th, 2011. A man who cared deeply about, and worked steadfastly to protect and nurture, his faith, his family and his community. Ray must have rejoiced in returning to the arms of his wife, a woman he loved beyond all measure. His only regret, perhaps, would have been that he was unable to welcome, in person, his first great grandchild when he arrived that summer in 2011.
I like to think that Raymond’s spirit—his sense of family dedication, selflessness and loyalty— remains with us to inspire, to encourage and to love us.