My Thoughts

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. When I wrote my last column I was conveyancing after an appendectomy. But what was harder, was dealing with the sudden passing of a dear friend. Ray Wilson was married to Helen Wilson who worked here at The Echo (as well as 3 of her daughters) for MANY years. And through the years, I came to feel like I too was part of the family.

Last Saturday, I participated in my first virtual wake - and it was beautiful. All four of his daughters and Helen gathered in their living room - all wearing one of their dad’s “funny/statement making” T-shirts - as the ZOOM conference got underway. Big kudos to the support techs (husbands & boyfriends) that got things up and running smoothly. It was touching and tearful - and would have made Ray very proud.

Raymond Anthony Wilson was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 14, 1954. Son of Lawrence & Kathleen Wilson, they instilled in him a strong work ethic that never wavered. Brother to Joe, Larry, Kathy, Peggy, Mary Jo, Bernadette, Theresa, Mark, Johnny and Roseanne. He was an exceptional student and athlete, who enlisted in the Navy after graduation. It was a practical decision that afforded him the opportunity to see the world and get an education. On August 30, 1980 he married Helen - a woman who matched his practical, hard-working and competitive spirit. They raised four incredibly talented and beautiful daughters and had just celebrated 40 years of marriage when he passed away on August 31, 2020.

Ray was a gem - rare and hard to find.

He was practical and solid, hard-working and wickedly smart.
He was reserved and yet a relentless vocal defender of justice.
He was both worldly and grounded at the same time.
He was both kind and tough.
He was a man of few words and many actions.
He judged people not by their race, job description, or religion but purely on their character and work ethic.

He was unwavering in his principles, and always did the right thing - especially when no one was looking. He enjoyed the trust and respect of all those who were lucky enough to cross his path. His integrity defined his character, and his stoic sense of humor embodied his spirit. With a tireless work ethic and perpetual modesty, Ray was a role model for his friends, family and coworkers. When he spoke, people listened. He will truly be missed.

Many may wonder what drives a man like Ray. To me the answer is simple... their names are Helen, Rachel, Emily, Rebecca, Caroline, Ruby and Roxy. And of this I am certain, he will forever be watching over you with love and immense pride.

Favorite Memory:
A few years back when everyone was in town to celebrate his daughter Rebecca’s wedding, I was paired with Ray in the “informal” badminton tourney. (We all know that whenever the Wilsons gather - games soon follow). We were both hesitant participants and an unlikely duo - but our competitive nature could not be squashed and point by point, game by game - we went on to win!

Ray was never one for the spotlight, preferring to hang in the background as the non-stop activities of four daughters and numerous exchange students filled their home. Thanksgivings and holidays always overflowed with food, fun and friends. I count myself lucky to have been included in the chaos, but truly relished time spent with Ray and Helen after all the girls had left. Quiet evenings, delicious meals, insightful political conversations - that almost always culminated watching Jeopardy.

It was the simple pleasures that Ray truly loved and appreciated. Helen - you picked a good one. A tough one. A moral one. And one we will never forget.

JAN 10 & 24 | FEB 7 & 21 | MARCH 13 & 27 | APRIL 10 & 24 |
MAY 8 & 22 | JUNE 5 & 19| JULY 10 & 24 | AUGUST 7 & 21 |
SEPT 11 & 25 | OCT 9 & 23 | NOV 6 & 20 | DEC 4 & 18

Tami Johnson