March 23, 2004

Laura Guilfoyle camera.gif

The day you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that the day you die the world will cry and you will rejoice. - Cherokee Expression

My name is Laura and I worked with Ray (although not on a daily basis) for the 4 years he was with Bovis. I have a few special Ray stories, but this one is my favorite. It's a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg of all the good things that made Ray Ray.

In June of 2002, as part of a training initiative, our office held a superintendents' meeting in Half Moon Bay. The superintendents are the engine that makes it all happen out in the field, but they don't always get their share of the glory. So, we set up this meeting not only for business reasons, but to give them a little break and time to get to know each other, since they were scattered throughout the Bay Area. This was to be a 1-day meeting, followed by dinner, then golf the next day. I was one of two women attending.

After the meeting, at dinner, I ordered a Cosmopolitan (it's pink and considered to be a girlie drink). Intrigued by this frou frou concoction that was having such a positive effect on my mood, this group of about 30 field guys started ordering Cosmos. Before you knew it, singing broke out and our private room turned into an impromptu karaoke bar (unfortunately, without music). Mike Price, a trained opera singer, and Ray's dear friend from way back, led us in singing Stairway to Heaven, various Jimmy Buffett songs, Oh Lord its Hard to be Humble, Gilligan's Island, and the Brady Bunch. We also started plenty of others where we sang the first line, and then all the voices trailed off into nothing because we didn't't know the rest of the words. It was going down hill fast. You know you have hit a new low when 35 construction workers are drinking pink drinks and singing "Love Will Keep us Together." It is possible that our group may have been slightly over-served.

Our bus took us back to the Half Moon Bay Lodge, which was really a motel in disguise. These big kids showed no signs of slowing down, so they gathered in our boss's room, spilling out into a breezeway and the parking lot. Someone had cards and cigars and the night was young.

I wasn't going to stick around and disturb all that male bonding, so I said good night. As I left to go to my room, Ray stopped me and stooped down to my eye-level and said very seriously, "Now when you get to your room I want you to lock the door, and don't open it for ANYBODY. Do you understand me?" "Yes," I told him. "Now tell me what you are going to do if anyone knocks on your door." "I'm not going to let them in." "Good." Always the gentleman, Ray was looking out for me.

I have no idea what time they all called it a night, but a lot of people missed their tee time, including the subject of this story.

Late Thursday night, the day after Ray's accident, I was in the trailer where he worked, and I told this story to someone who was there. It was obvious he had had a very bad day, and he was visibly affected by my story. He said, "You know, that night Ray put me to bed, took off my shoes, and made sure I was on my side so that if I got sick I wouldn't choke. Before he left, he made sure that I understood that I shouldn't roll over onto my back." We both just sat there looking at each other. Neither of us could say a word. Our pal had looked out for both of us that night.

The following Monday, I was on the phone with someone else on Ray's project and told him the story about Ray's two good deeds that night. When I was finished, he said, "Do you know what else he did? One guy challenged everyone to a foot race across the parking lot. The bet was $100. Ray took him up on it and lost. When Ray tried to give him the money, the winner wouldn't take it, and said, "c'mon we're all drunk, forget about it." Later the next week Ray donated $100 to a charity in the winner's name to make good on his debt. Not that he told anyone he did it-the guy received an acknowledgement for the donation in his name made by Ray."

That best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. - William Wordsworth

Three good deeds. One night. While no one was looking. That was Ray.

On Thursday, February 26, the grief stricken SF staff met at the Brannan project to talk with a counselor to talk about Ray and how his death was affecting them. Everyone in the room felt like they lost their best friend, that's because Ray had a way of making everyone feel special. Someone said: if you ran into Ray, your day got better. We all agreed. We all said we wanted to be more like Ray. He was loved here at work.

I had the privilege of packing up Ray's things from his desk. I did it carefully and with respect. Front and center were two beautiful pictures: one of Rose which looked very recent, and another with Ray on a tractor, Rose in a little bundle on his chest and Sophie right next to him. Underneath his clear plastic desk pad, where he could look at them all day, were special pictures that Rose drew. I assumed she must have come in to work with him one day because they were drawn in regular pencil and on what looked like paper from a scratch pad. I'll bet that was a good day. Packing up gave me a little glimpse into where his heart was - not that there was ever any doubt.

I would like to think of Ray with his Mom right now, telling her about how wonderful his life was, including all the incredible things he saw and did. He should tell her how many friends he had and how much they loved him and appreciated his kindness and honesty.

He'll tell her that his Dad did a wonderful job raising him and that he turned out to be a man who made the world a better place. I expect he'll save the best for last, and will tell her about his beloved Sophie and Rose who made him so happy. The thought of him doing that makes me smile.

Ray, your beautiful spirit and that ever-present smile will be with us forever.

The Brannan Square Project Team, the people Ray worked with every day.