April 06, 2004

Peter Doncaster camera.gif

Hi my name is Peter Doncaster. I was at Tulane with Ray. We lived on the same hall freshman year (3rd floor Monroe), we were pledge brothers, and we were on the crew team together for the first year. Though we lived on the same floor it took Tony to bring us all together. I’m almost certain we began to be friends during one of the Fire Drill Wars of 1984. The neighboring dorm would come and pull our fire alarm at two am, we’d all shuffle out, wait outside for 45 minutes, go back inside, then someone from our dorm would retaliate an hour later…and so on… This war went on for the entire first semester. It became customary to invade Tony’s room in the neighboring dorm (Sharp) whenever our fire alarm was pulled and to hang out there until Sharp’s fire alarm was pulled two hours later.

I distinctly remember bonding with Ray because we both liked the same Heavy Metal band, Judas Priest, and both liked the same song, “United”. Most of the other kids on the hall were from the Northeast and didn’t get into Heavy Metal. I distinctly remember playing that song in Ray and Casey’s room and Ray showing off the picture of Humphrey Bogart holding the gin bottle from the African Queen he had posted on his dorm refrigerator.

One summer later in college a number of us stayed in New Orleans. We were all pretty un-motivated and jobs were hard to find or hard to keep. Jack had given Ray his decrepit old Pinto and we were constantly having to push start it because the battery was so weak. Needless to say, we barely had enough money for beer let alone food. One particular week we were all broke but Ray managed to go and buy a huge bag of potatoes and some lemonade. Ray always had lemonade or tea or kool-aid that summer. In any event, Ray fed about four of us for an entire week off of that huge bag of potatoes.

There’s a Corona Beer ad on TV lately in which a guy and a girl walk up to a volleyball net on the beach and start to adjust it. The next scene is the cooler of Corona, the camera pans up to reveal that the couple has converted the volleyball net into a hammock and are relaxing horizontal on the net with a cold beer. One time I was walking to class across the quad. It was not so warm that everyone was in summer gear, but here comes Ray walking toward me in complete beach wear including a cooler and chair! “Ray, where are you going?” “Hey PD, I just finished class, want a beer?” He was on his way back from acting class…. His skit was “sitting on the beach drinking a beer.” How Ray is that? Now every time I see one of those ads I think of Raymond.

It’s been over a month now and I still find it difficult to believe that Ray is gone. I often look to him for advice. The same day as Ray’s accident, I started a one month leave of absence from work. After returning from the memorial service I set out on a three week road trip. I stalled for the first couple of days “getting ready”. It was difficult to just get in the car pull away from the curb with only a no real idea of where I was headed. Ray’s memory gave me the push I needed to just get in the car and go. I kept thinking of his motorcycle trips across the U.S. and Australia. Farther along in the trip I was camping in a campground. I’m normally a pretty reserved and introverted person (without alcohol) but in the campground I thought about Ray again. Ray would just walk over to the next site and make friends. No, he would grab some beers, walk over and make friends. So that’s what I did. Ten minutes later I had some new friends. I wouldn’t have done that by myself.

Ray seems to come up in just about every conversation I have these days with people who never knew him. I usually always mention his memorial service to people when people ask me what I’ve been up to for the last month. What’s surprising is that he seems to come up in so many other topics as well; sailing, flying, airplanes, college, boats, friends, bars, beers, motorcycles, pizza, … everything. In fact I was sitting with Wardo just a few days ago eating some pizza and I remembered that Ray could eat an entire large pizza by himself and still have room for more….

Ray, thanks for all the fun we had and thanks for showing me how to be a better man.

I miss you brother.


Rose, Ray's daughter, at the memorial service