Memories from 1959

My wife Ruth and my memories of Ray are a bit different than most of the memorials submitted about Ray. Our relationship with Ray was exclusively personal, not business related.

We first met Ray in 1959, when Ruth and Ray worked at Matson Steamship Lines in Los Angeles. Ruth kept telling me about this very interesting guy, about our age, who worked incredibly long hours and had an infectious enthusiasm. So we met one day for lunch and Ray immediately started recruiting me for one of his projects. And that was how two young couples, just starting out in their careers, with no money, but plenty of energy and enthusiasm formed this lifelong bond.

Ray’s then-wife Marsha, and their daughters Julie and Susan, became part of our Los Angeles family. A day with those little girls at the beach near their home, or around the pool at our apartment always left us exhausted, but happy. A pot of spaghetti and a shared six-pack was a big Saturday night for both families back then.

In 1961, I was transferred back to the Mid-West and our friendship for the next 20 years was one of semi-annual letters and later on postcards from Ray’s frequent business trips. Ruth has saved each one of them. Somewhere in the late ‘80s we began to connect again and Ray would periodically visit us in Florida, and we once visited Rockingham Ranch in Roll, AZ while touring the west in our motor home. Ray had been called out of town, but we met Nancy and she graciously entertained us in his absence.

The memories I’ll always cherish of “Rocket Ray” are memories of the other Ray. Not the one bounding on stage to mesmerize an audience with his infectious enthusiasm and high energy. Ray thought that sleep was a nuisance interruption in an otherwise productive day. I always pooped by 11PM, otherwise those talks would have gone on all night.

Ray had this incredible interest in everything. He thirsted for knowledge, and then someone to debate with about what it all meant. I don’t mean debate in a contentious way. Ray wasn’t only a talker he was also a listener. He wanted to know what you knew about an issue, or an idea, and then became a partner in the dialogue. I would go to bed at mid-night, knowing it was going to be a short night, because Ray would be up at 4AM anxious to get on with the next day.

I’ll leave you with one other side of Ray most of you will recognize. I never met a man with less artifice about him. Ray not only was willing to let you into his life, he spent the necessary time to keep you in his life, to keep the lines of communication open where ever he was.

So to Ray, and Nancy - we love you.

John Copeland


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With fond memories of Ray and with deep respect for his family.
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