I remember so many times Ray would tell a story about someone he knew or had met, and the story always began with - he or she was such a dear person. He saw everyone as a dear person. For Ray life was a mirror. He saw only dear people because life was refelcting back to him who he was - the dearest of people.
There is another attribute of Ray's character that was remarkable. Ray lived with joy in his heart all of the time. He possessed an innate understanding of the great gift life is. He understood that life was a priviledge. And he honored that priviledge by living with joy in his heart at all times - no matter life's circumstances.
Joy is the word that comes to mind when one thinks of Ray. Ray was always joyful, happy to just be alive. So rare today. Ray knew this secret of life. Ray's life is full of lessons for all of us.
Ray was not someone the world would call successful. In fact most of the world would see Ray as unsuccessful. But the world is wrong. He knew the key to a successful life that most miss. Although many of the circumstancess of his life were difficult, He knew that in every cloud there is a silver lining and he knew that it is in that silver lining is the place to live one's life. He lived in that place of peace, where simply the joy of being alive was all that is necessary. That was true success. The lesson we can all learn from him - that it is truly possible to live life with joy in your heart no matter life's circumstances.
Although Ray was not financially successful, he had the great abundance and wealth of so many close and dear friends. He, in fact, had more close friends over a longer period of time than anyone I have ever known.
I will affirm for Ray this weekend: Death is not extinguishing a light; death is merely turning out the light, because the dawn has arrived. Bless you Ray, You will be greatly missed.
Ray was 88.
Gene Ford Runnels