Ray's Live Wake

When doctors told Ray he had only weeks to live, in December 2003, he decided to hold his own wake and invite his friends and family. "The problem with funerals," he said, "is that the dead guy doesn't get to enjoy any of the fun."

So he gathered some New Orleans jazz funeral music and about 100 people who traveled to Arizona from California, Texas, England, Ohio, and elsewhere. His friends helped Ray and Nancy pack for their move to California.

When I arrived for the wake in February 2004, I expected to find Ray near the end of his life. Ill, certainly, and possibly bedridden. But he was up and around. Organizing the packers, carrying beer here and there, greeting everyone who arrived. From morning until evening for several days. Nonstop activitiy.

I could see a vial that he was wearing like an amulet. A small tube extended from it, doubtless dispensing some time-release medication designed to help him fight the disease that was killing him. At the end of the weekend, there was even talk of the "annual" Ray Jutkins wake.

While there were tears,
there was no shortage
of laughter and fun.
And, yes, Ray had arranged
to have mugs inscribed with
"I Survived Ray's 'Live' Wake"
for everyone who attended.

Do you have a favorite Ray Jutkins story?

If so, please send it along to and I'll make it part of this website.

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