February 25, 2012

Always With Us - Suzanne O'Neal

Today is the eighth year of our loss which seems like yesterday. Rarely does a day go by without some kind of thought of Ray. We have many pictures prominently shown in our little den which we are in every day and I often stop to talk with "Ray". Yes, I do believe he is with us. I have to know that he is constantly proud of his beautiful daughter, our grand daughter, Rose. I know he is her guardian angel and that all our love keeps him present with us though his physical presence is missed beyond comprehension. The pain is one of impossible cure but our pride in what a lovely and wonderful man he was gives warmth to our hearts.

Rosie, your daddy was one of the best humans in the world and a daddy beyond compare. Though you only had him in your life for a very short time, you have to always know he is with you and that his love for you is beyond compare. Hold him close to your heart and and talk to him anytime - as he is there for you anytime.


Your grandmother, Nonie

May 10, 2011

I Never Met Ray - Andrew M

I never met Ray.

18mths ago I picked up Andrews book IAG as I was preparing for the big trip – flying to LAX to ride across the USA with some close mates. I couldn’t put the book down. And when I did, I grabbed my wife and 3 little kids and loved them up like I hadn’t done before.

We did the ride and I shared the story about Ray with my mates one night – we all toasted Ray and made a pact to cherish our friendships. It was a wonderful experience and I thought of Ray often on the trip.

Ironically, I lost my youngest brother suddenly at a similar time of Rays passing. Like Ray, a wonderful, beautiful person. The pecking order is so wrong, but I can only imagine what an incredible place it be full of guys like bro and Ray. I don’t know why but last night I picked up IAG again and re read it. Only then did I notice the website.

I just wanted to let u know Ray has touched so many around the world.


Andrew M
Brisbane, Australia

April 01, 2011

Ray's memory is still with us at Bovis - Laura Guilfoyle

Dear Sophie and Rose,

I think of you so often.

Today I received a call from Joel Pickering, the founder of the Lend Lease Safety Academy, a 2-day intensive designed to change the way our employees, subcontractors and visitors think about safety, not just at work but in everything we do.

Joel wanted to know about Ray’s life and death to demonstrate that safety isn’t just reports and regulations. Tragedy has names, faces, stories and a family. I told him about Remembering Ray and Andrew’s book, and sent him a copy of the stickers we use on our hardhats and his obituary. Joel takes safety and the preciousness of life very seriously. He was very moved by how loved and admired Ray was—and still is. I know that by hearing about Ray, the people in the class will realize that there is no other choice but to take care of themselves and each other in the field, so that no other family has to experience what you have experienced.

At every safety event I attend I remember Ray, and remind people of you, and what you miss every day without him.

Love you,

March 01, 2011

Fond Loving Memories - Debbie Nevins

I spoke with Ron Etergino last week and asked him to remind me of the date that Ray had passed. I had Ray on my mind every day for a good week. I just knew that the date was imminent. Ron had shared photos of their visit with Sophie and Rose. What fun to see them. Rose is a true beauty. I also reread the poem Chet wrote of "Lost Brothers Are We". The only change I would make to his poem is the word "lost". The memory of Ray lives with us all for all time. We miss you, Ray!

Debbie and Tiff Nevins
Ray's Eastern Family

February 27, 2011

Ray O'Neal - Victoria Greely

It has been seven years since Ray died.

I spent the better part of an hour reading and rereading the notes on this site.

And looking at the pictures.

And remembering. Mostly remembering.

Today, as every year, my beautiful daughter and beloved granddaughter have "run away" to where they can breathe and commune with Ray and each other.

Today I stayed home and silently mourned the son-in-law I had come to love so much.

For all of you who were privileged to have known Ray-phone or write or email or plan a visit with Sophie and Rose.

That is truly a special way of remembering Ray.

March 24, 2009

Warm Memories - Debbie Nevins

Today, March 24th, Tiff and I were enjoying a leisurely lunch in our living room in our Maryland home. There was a "feeling" of Ray about the room today. In fact there has been that feeling of Ray ever since his fateful accident. But today Ray's presence was everywhere. We looked at the picture of Ray and Tiff behind the wheel of Yankee, wind blowing, jacket collars raised high, and sheer joy and happiness shared by both. Another photo is of Ron, Ray, and Chet taken at Chet's rehearsal dinner party in Nassau...again the feeling of laughter, joy, and partnership. Tiff and I both felt this aura and re-read the Memoriam Poem that Chet wrote.

Sophie and Rose we want you to know how much we think of you. We are still your "Eastern" family. We miss you both and hope that you will find your way East to visit us this summer.

February 28, 2009

Mike Patt

(My mom received this email from Mike Patt, a great friend from childhood who's a captain in the SFPD)

Dear Vicki,
I stumbled upon the special notes written by you and Sophie in the Chronicle today about Ray. I remember the day of his accident very well. Up until this time, I have chosen not to share a story I have for fear of opening wounds, or provoking more pain and heartache on top of what is already so cruel and brutal. Having never met Ray in person also tempered my enthusiasm to chime in. If you feel it is appropriate, maybe you can cut and paste this to "RememberingRay", as my tech abilities and the work computer are hampering the post. Here goes...

On that morning, I was working in the fire station, with the usual half of an ear toward the radio which dispatches units city-wide. I heard the call come in for a fall victim, with responding units and officers/medics I know personally. The Captain on scene it turns out is one of the most competent and "tough" in the city, bar none. As the day went on, the incident faded away in my memory, as so much goes on in this crazy city everyday. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would soon have cause to call the Captain and find out exactly what happened.

I actually saw the Captain in person before I had a chance to call, and eagerly inquired about the tragic accident, now knowing it was Ray who was hurt. The usual response to such inquiries is typically generic in nature, with a mundane description of circumstances and details. This time, however, my inquiry stopped the Captain in his tracks. His blank stare and obvious introspection caught my attention right away. "You knew that man Mike?" "Well, not exactly" I replied, " I know his wife and her extended family very well from childhood." Cap became very serious, and simply said... "Mike, he was the toughest patient I have ever seen in all my years on this job." " There was something about him that was so different." His eyes trailed off into the distance. I told him of Sophie and Rose, I could feel his heart break.

To this very day, when we greet each other at an incident, or cross paths at the firehouse, a certain feeling fills the air. It's a feeling of sadness, gratitude, and grief, all rolled into one. It's knowing any day could be your last around here. So in his own certain way, a man named Ray whom I've never even met helps me appreciate my own family each and every day. Thank you Ray, until we meet someday.

February 26, 2007

Victor Perry

Sophie, my thoughts and prayers are with you and Rose. Ray was one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. I hope that your understanding of how many people he touched gives you comfort and helps you through the day. I will never forget Ray.

February 24, 2007

Vicki Greely

Three years...the blink of an eye.

Three years...an eternity.

Three years!!

Tomorrow it has been three years since Ray died.

Three long years in which Sophie and Rose have had to learn to be a "two family".

Sophie and Rose are doing "OK", but they need the love and support that we all so emotionally promised them three years ago. They need to know that we are there and that we care.

So, pick up the phone and call, or sit down and write that letter, or, better yet, arrange to come for a visit!

They need to know that we really are REMEMBERING RAY!

I love you and miss you, Ray, every day!

Vicki Greeley

Janet Shaver - 3 Years Ago

My dear Ray,

It hasn’t been until this year that I have been able to mourn your loss. The first year that you left us was a blur of sadness combined with the necessary strength to get through the shock and crappy busy-work that ensued. The second year was just a hollow emptiness as the space cleared to feel the loss of you. And this year, I just straight-out mourn.

I miss you. I miss you calling me ‘Net…no one does that anymore. I miss what you were for my best friend every day that you were in her life. I miss your goofy smile and your pride & adoration of your daughter and your excitement over ever little thing that came across your path. I miss laughing about the silly things you did, and I miss how you would command a room simply by entering. I miss how the party would start just by you arriving.

Ray Ryan O’Neal. I miss you dearly, but am so happy to have known you.

July 12, 2006

Jane Mock - Lasting Impressions

Today at work I was looking through my bookmarks for a certain resource and flitted by "Remembering Ray."

Visiting this site and looking at all the great photos, and reading people's submissions is like getting a dose of a great "life force." Ray was a marvelous example of someone who reached out, took interest, made connections and, now, has left a legacy. I think it's true that we carry people inside of us, even when they're gone, and can hopefully model some of our intentions and actions after them. How fantastic, too, that people who didn't even know Ray have visited the site after being touched by the Chronicle notice! Talk about making an impression.

There are times when I remember the day I got the phone call about Ray's death. It's usually on some quiet and still night, and it just turns me inside-out to think what his last moments were like, and what Sophie endured. But I also remember--with much more frequency--the incredible acts of kindness and resourcefulness that I saw happening around Sophie and Rose in those days immediately following Ray's death. Kirsten, Janet, the Ford, O'Connell, O'Neal and Julien families, and more of Sophie's friends and neighbors stepped in and did the things--big, small and everything in between--that needed to be done. To me, this is such proof that we're never alone. A friend of mine lost a baby at the end of last year, and during that time, I was able to participate with others in giving a level of support that I don't think I would have understood had I not seen the exemplary people that Sophie had around her.

Rose, you're lucky to be part of an amazing tribe.

Well, I get to see Sophie tonight at Girls' Night, so I'll sign off now!



April 30, 2006

Andrew Daddo - It's All Good

I'm not really sure how to start here...

Funny that.

I rode across America with Ray a long time ago. A lifetime. No kids, no wives and probably not that many expectations. We were both heading west, Ray was stopping on the coast, I was searching for my own about a million miles further on. Back home. In Australia.

Like you, I was gutted to hear about Ray's death.

I was a long way away and unsure how to help. Somewhere in my brain, a penny dropped. I get the feeling it's dropped for everyone who's taken the time to write on this site.

I decided to write a letter to Rose about our ride. It was easy to start, "Dear Rose." was pretty obvious, but from there it got trickier. So over the next year or thereabouts, armed with photos, a road atlas and some memory, I did my best to get it down for Rose.

What began as a letter has become a book.

It's All Good.

It comes out tomorrow, Australia only, I'm afraid, but maybe it'll come to where you are, too.

Ray was a mate of mine. A "forever friend."

I trust It's All Good does him justice. I thank you, too for your memories, some of which I have borrowed to flesh out the book.


Andrew Daddo

March 21, 2006

Ron Etergino - Tessa Ray camera.gif


You won't remember this, but we had our first Guinness /milk together playing a game of backgammon with your father and Chuck at Liverpool Lil's. After your father and I sent Anthony back home from our motorcycle trip, your dad grabbed you, the baby sling and the backgammon case and we were off.

As we walked into Lil's, we took the open booth to the right of the door. Your father plopped you down between the two of us, you sat contently and your dad proceeded to refresh my memory on how to lose in backgammon. In between the laughs, and the pints your father doted on you. He always did.

I spent several days with you and your parents on that trip and one of the things that always stuck with me is how excited they were to have you. They shared and experienced life with you. Your dad took you everywhere, including the fly casting pools at the park, working on Yankee, and to some of the best Indian restaurants in the city. He loved you and lit up every time he spoke about you, he made being a father look so easy.

Our daughter Tessa Ray Etergino was born on 2/10/06. She started off life a bit anxious, born 6 weeks early and spending a few in ICU. She is one tough little girl and shows the same passion for life as her namesake did. I think Ray would be proud of her.

See you in the summer,

Uncle Ron

March 02, 2006

Sean Curran camera.gif

I had the good fortune to meet Ray in the Tulane Rowing Club. We rowed in the Varsity 8 together for a couple of great years shared many good times together both on the water and around campus. I am deeply saddened by his death – he was a sincere, genuine and thoughtful individual. I will always remember his soft nature, beaming smile, and good humor. Even though we lost touch over the years, I often thought fondly about the times we spent together, especially our trip to Ireland and England to row in the Henley Regatta in 1988. It is one of the most memorable events of my life and Ray will always be part of it. Goodbye Ray, may God bless you and your family.

February 28, 2006

Dean de Freitas - BoDeans & Chickenscamera.gif

There is one musical group that I associate with Ray because he introduced me to them during a memorable moment in my college life, and that group is The BoDeans. More specifically, their "Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams" CD.

One of the traditions our fraternity held dear was the Pledge Prank. Every class had to do one, and every class tried to outdo the last one. The pledges believed that they had to pull the prank off in the house, in the middle of the night, while the active members were there. What they didn't know is that the actives were aware of exactly what night the prank was to be pulled off, and we were specifically forbidden from interrupting them. The idea was to get them to work together towards a difficult goal, and it would have been far to easy to ruin it for them. The other thing they didn't know is that we would clean up the prank before they showed up for lunch and pretend that nothing happened the night before.

My sophmore year was my first living in the house, and when the time came for the Fall '86 pledge class to perform their prank, they pulled off a masterpiece. They filled the bottom floor of the House with a layer of hay, hid eggs all around the house where we would step on them, and left us a flock of chickens that numbered exactly the same as the guys in their pledge class.

When we came downstairs to see what the pledges had done, many of us were overwhelmed. How the heck were we going to clean this up before lunch? Naturally, Ray didn't blink an eye. He ran upstairs, got his boom box, and started cranking the BoDeans to motivate our work. The album had a distinctive country rock flavor, and was well suited to the occasion. I clearly remember chasing chickens around the house with Ray and others to corral them inside the downstairs bathroom before spending the rest of the morning trying to force all that hay into any and every garbage bag we could find. Somehow, we got everything cleaned up in time, except for those dang chickens. At lunch, to the pledges frustration, we simply pretended that there were no chickens in the house, even though the we could hear them in the bathroom clucking away.

This became one of my all time favorite CD's, and I think of Ray everytime I hear it. This past Saturday night I cracked open a beer, cranked the BoDeans up loud, and drank a toast to Ray.

February 25, 2006

Anthony DeLucia - August 1984, New Orleans

As a newly arrived freshman at Tulane, I’d been checked into my room for about a half an hour. Next on my list was to head over to Phelps and put in my paperwork and pick up my rental refrigerator. What dorm room at Tulane would be complete without a refrigerator?

I’m standing in a line that’s not moving, wondering what’s holding it up. It’s about ninety degrees, and humid. I turn around to survey the scene and find someone taller than me standing behind me. Of course he’s got a big smile and we strike up a conversation and shake hands. I learn his name Ray O’Neal from San Francisco. I tell him I’m from Connecticut and am also starting my freshman year.


How we Miss OUR RAY


And now on this second year of our loss....
In this bitter sweet season, how we wish we could once more hear you say......

Love, Pop & Mom

October 05, 2005

Jane Mock - Sophie and Ray's Unity

My name is Jane Mock, also known as "Miss Jane," which is important information for part of this memory.

I've known Sophie for 20 years. We met in a college drama class, and found out that our dads had actually known each other when they were teenagers. So, my friendship with Sophie feels very familial. And sure enough, I've always felt welcomed by her family.

I remember when Sophie first told me about Ray. She and I were driving over Divisadero to see "Muriel's Wedding" at the Kabuki Theatre. She told me about this wonderful guy that she'd met in her boxing class. The first time I had met Ray was at Sophie's 30th birthday party. Sophie was radiant at that party, and seeing her standing next to Ray, it was obvious that she'd met a charming, intelligent gentleman who truly appreciated her. They were magnificent!

I was so touched when this real "guy's guy" started calling me "Miss Jane." Because this has been a real term of endearment from Sophie, it made me feel loved and accepted by Ray. Whenever we saw Sophie and Ray, he'd say, "Hello Miss Jane." When he picked up the phone, he'd tell Sophie, "It's Miss Jane." When Laurent and I were feeling defeated about how long it was taking for us to get pregnant, I called Sophie one night. Ray picked up the phone, and when I started to cry, he listened, and then talked to me about how everything would be all right. After I got off the phone, I was just so amazed by this man who wasn't uncomfortable with a sobbing woman on the phone. His compassion came from his own heart, but I also felt that he was speaking in solidarity with Sophie.

Another early Ray memory that showed this unity with Sophie was when he picked up Sophie from a girls' brunch. A whole gaggle of us had been eating, drinking and yakking throughout a Sunday morning. Ray came to pick up Sophie in the early afternoon and just sat, perfectly at ease, while we said our long goodbyes. Here was this tall, tall man just enjoying seeing his gal Sophie bask in her friendships. I think that he valued how important Sophie's friends are to her. He truly took an interest in her friends and made time for them. They were a real team.

I paged through all the pictures on this website and there's just so much evidence of that unity and sense of a "team" or "duo." There are so many things that I didn't know about Ray until I went to his memorial service and until I read the many stories on this website. His extensive travels, education, and solid relationships with friends, family and extended family really show that he was a "man of the world." I bet that this quality contributed to his ability to show compassion for people, ask lots of questions, and to be perfectly at ease at a hen party!

Another thing I found out after Ray died is that he loved to play dominoes. Oh, how I wish that I could have played a game with him! So, Sophie and I will need to play sometime and raise a glass to her prince.

September 27, 2005

Jolie von Suhr

I just today heard the terribly tragic news and I've been shedding tears ever since. Ray's Dad and my Dad (Dick Suhr) were both pilots and I remember Big Ray and Little Ray coming to visit us in Seattle when we were kids.

I remember we were all out on the deck--Big Ray and my parents were talking, etc. and us kids made a "bubble fort" with a sheet and a big fan...

I didn't see Little Ray again until years later, in my twenties, when I was living in Los Angeles. My dad called to tell me Little Ray had just moved to the LA area, and maybe I should give him a call. I did and we arranged to get together. I'll never forget opening the door and seeing "Little" Ray...holy cow, he sure grew up TALL! and surprise, he was holding a motorcycle helmet. I quickly changed from the skirt I was wearing into a pair of jeans.

I'm so glad I found this site. Everything I read about Ray echoes my memories of him--he was such an extraordinarily kind and good person. He LOVED his dad. I remember he had just moved into his apartment but still managed to make a grilled fish dinner--delicious--I was so impressed, since all I could make was a mean PB & J. He said his dad taught him to cook.

After Ray moved away from LA, I would still hear about him now and then. I remember going to a party once and seeing a Tulane diploma on the host's wall. I asked if he knew Ray, and he got so excited, he was one of his fraternity brothers! It sounds cliché but it is so true: Everyone who knew Ray loved him and was better for knowing him.

Feeling upset and shaken by this sad news, I left work early today and headed home and almost went straight to bed. Then I realized, that Ray would probably not waste such a beautiful afternoon holed up. So I took my Greyhound on a long walk instead. Ray just makes you want to be a better person, do more, live more, appreciate more.

My heart and thoughts go out to Big Ray, Sophie, Rose, and all of the other many family members and friends who love and miss Ray so dearly. I consider myself very lucky to have known him for a little while.

April 16, 2005

Ray O' Neal Sr.

Carmel California
February 25, 2005

Today at 10 am I received a phone call from Vicki, Sophie's Mother, it was a year ago to the hour, since she had made "the most difficult call of her life", to inform me of Ray's accident. She hadn't elaborated, only said that he had been involved in a serious accident and that they couldn't stop the bleeding. I subconsciously envisioned he had broken a leg or something, but it was much worse, he was gone when I got there.

All of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we received that news, time stood still.

For the whole of the past year I have been unable to speak about this to anyone in more than general terms. In short, I really don't know what happened to Ray other than he fell off "his" building; I know none of the details.

Vicki told me I must talk about it, and I suppose that's true, but where does one start? Ray was not only my son, he was my traveling companion; from Alaska to the jungles of Columbia, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and the Philippines, Japan and Korea, Thailand and Africa, and every place in between: Ray was my best friend. Mardi Gras, Christmas, Birthdays, Oktoberfest, Head of the Charles, Henley, weddings and funerals, laughter to tears and back again. Our adventures were so wide and so varied that there is no one else on the planet that I can share them with. We flew, swam, dived, hiked, fished, sailed, skied, drank and enjoyed most of the world. Like with all who knew him, my life now holds a huge void, a place where I still dare not go.

That said, I shall venture forth into that place in which I have left countless memories and many stories. I will share a few of them with you, if I may.


Suzanne O'Neal camera.gif

Perhaps putting words to paper and seeing them in print is a reality that I have been hiding from for the past year. A year filled with bewilderment and shock. Writing makes something seem real and my reality has been some form of denial. However, with the arrival of the first anniversary of Ray's death, I feel I must come to terms and add my thoughts to this most incredible collection of beautiful memories of "OUR" Ray.

I was one of the lucky ones to take a role as mother in Ray's life. He was very fortunate because there were many of us who had the privilege of this role. As Ray Sr. was single for most of his adult life, there were many of his friends who participated in helping form the adventures and help build the fine young man that Ray became. Ruth, Sally, Vicki, Ellen, Janet, Debbie, and the mothers of Anthony and Ron are the first that come to mind. We think of Ray as apart of us and feel the great hole his missing presence has left.

When Ray, Sr. and I got married I had already been blessed with tow wonderful sons and was so thrilled to add a third. When I walked into a room with the three of them, heads actually turned as those three gorgeous boys made such a presence together. i remember the first time Ray introduced us to his friends as "I'd like you to meet my Mom and Dad" and how proud I was that he felt he could call me Mom.


March 04, 2005

Martin Rambusch camera.gif

The real question coming up on February 25 2005 was how to capture and try to respectfully bring tribute to the memory of Ray

The real issue is that Ray was a dynamic multi faceted person who was easy going, fun loving, mature and ready to follow a whim, all at once


Rob Kraus

Every time I see a submission for Remembering Ray I go through a wave of emotions. Right now my strategy has been to forward them to my home email b/c it is so difficult to keep my emotions in check. Inevitably, I will stop what I am doing and read the passages that continue to pour in. I can't believe the outpouring of love and how Ray has affected so many people and so many ways. If I'm having a bad day I pop open of the Ray's submissions and I realize, it's not that bad. I can't recount the # of great memories I had of Shitty Ray (for those of you who don't know that nickname it was truly one of loving endearment).


March 02, 2005

Ray Mathis

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." -- Harriet Beecher Stowe

Dave White camera.gif

Ray's passing was difficult for me as it was for all of us. I haven't been able to articulate very well all that I've felt. Ray was a very important part of my life, a role model. He truly had the ability to brighten people's days and had a never-ending supply of good cheer. As time goes by, when I think about Ray I feel more happiness than sadness.


March 01, 2005

John Collins camera.gif

Easter Sunday 2003

Ray had been invited during the winter to join our race crew for the coming spring and summer season.  Ray had not spent one day sailing on this boat (which was not his boat), but as was his nature, he insisted on joining us in the yard to put his time in "on the hard".  Ray cut out early from Easter dinner with his family, rode his motorcycle over to Richmond on a glorious spring day, and joyously spent the day inhaling sawdust and varnish fumes.  Ray understood what it meant to be part of something.  He never asked for, nor expected a free ride - even when it was offered without qualification.  This photo is from that day.  By the way, Ray helped crew the boat to several first place finishes that season!  A valuable crew member, and a precious friend and human being, I hope to always see him waiting on the docks, ready to jump on and face whatever may come.

George Rizzo camera.gif

While I wasn’t as close to Ray as some of the other guys, I recall spending one summer between semesters in NOLA working out at his uptown rental house (the one with the pool). He had a free weight bench and some dumbbells and we worked at it religiously. (I know, I know – what a surprise that I would have workout memories!!) Also, we would go out to ATIIs at night which in the summers which was infested with LSU kids back in the City for the summer. One night, some guy was talking to a girl I was interested in and Ray (without me asking) got into a scuffle with the guy. When they were separated, the guy had a bloody mouth and Ray had a cut over his eye in his eyebrow. We went back to his place and crashed not thinking much of the cut, but it turned out he needed stitches. But, that was Ray, no need to ask for his help, he would be there on his own accord. That type of selflessness does not commonly exist and certainly did not in college students in my day.

By the way – the girl is now my wife of 10 years and is expecting our second child in six weeks.

February 26, 2005

Molly Wilson Cohen

I knew Ray as a very little kid. He was Little Ray to his dad's Big Ray. His dad and my mom dated off and on for a while in the early 70's. The last time I saw Ray was probably around 1974. Considering how little we were, I have very clear memories of him. We used to play at his dad's old restaurant and boat in Benicia, California. 

I saw Ray's picture in the Chronicle's memorial section yesterday. His broad smile is the same as I remember. I came to this website and have been so moved by all the remembrances of Ray. What an incredible man it sounds like he became and what a legacy he left for all that knew him. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Vicki Greely

Yesterday was a very hard day.  Even the weather was gray and gloomy.  I spent a lot of time on this Web-site, reading the new postings, re-reading the old ones, and going through all the pictures.  I am, personally, so grateful that so many of you have written in with "Ray stories"-they mean so much to Sophie, and are a special legacy for Rose.  She will be able to read all the stories for herself and learn just what an incredible person her Daddy really was.  She will be able to go through the pictures and see proof positive of how very much he loved her. Keep on adding to the memories-there can NEVER be too many!

February 25, 2005

Margaret DeLucia

Dear Sophie, Rose, Ray, Suzanne, Vikki, extended family and friends,

Today has been a very difficult day for us.  I'm sure that your day has been the same and worse.  We took comfort in being together as a family.  Anthony took the day off from work and we did nothing and everything.  The kids played in the snow, we ate lots of food, watched videos of better days and cherished every moment.  The kids stayed up late and we stood back as parents marveling at what we have created.  Now that the kids have gone to bed, we sit here, sad and happy.  Sad that we can no longer share with Ray our "magic moments" as Ray had called them.  Anthony and Ray had a pact to share these moments with each other every month. It had to be one a month.  It could be watching a sunset, a new word from a child, learning how to jump- anything that would bring  pleasure to a parent and a child.  Anthony no longer has Ray to share these with so----- Sophie, you are our girl.  We want to hear everything Rose does.  And sorry for you, you will hear about all of our new Karate moves, dances and just down right silly moves.  We are committed to keep Ray's magic moments alive.

To Sophie, Rose, Ray and Suzanne, we love you with all our hearts and will always keep you close to our hearts.

Ray, we miss you and will try to always keep your dreams alive and know that you are always in our hearts and minds.

All our love,

Margaret, Anthony, Drew and Lexi

Victor Perry

Today is the first day that I have been able to write about Ray.  Ray and I were co-workers and his passing has had a profound effect on my life.


Dean de Freitas - More Pictures camera.gif

Last year, I wrote about Ray taking a break from his cross-country trip to (unexpectedly) attend my wedding. I finally dug through the box-o-memories and found these pictures. The first two are photographs from the wedding - a pre-ceremony pool party and the reception. The last two images are from one of Ray's famous picture postcards that he sent me afterwards.

Peter Zvejnieks - Dos Gusanos

My memories from college are somewhat incomplete, but I do have one Rayism that sticks with me. Ray and I had many discussions regarding the hallucinogenic effects of tequila worms. I explained a theory that the worm ate the agave cactus and concentrated peyote like substances in its body, that is why they were hallucinogenic. Well Ray was more of an experimentalist than a theoretician. He found a type of tequila that had TWO worms, worm in spanish is gusano, hence the name of the tequila, Dos Gusanos. We even found airline size bottles of Dos Gusanos containing the promised worms. we had a running joke enunciating the name Dos Gusanos repeatedly. Despite fairly extensive experimentation our results were inconclusive regarding worm theory.

We all miss him.

Andrew Breitbart - New Jersey '89 - Thanks, Ray

In 1989 I took a semester off from Tulane to blow a minor inheritance from a deceased great aunt. I took to New York City and spent money worse than the drunken sailor cliche. I blew through $22k in about three months. At the end of this stupidganza, Ray and Dave White, who were three years ahead of me at Tulane, and has graduated the year before, invited me to their humble cabin home on a lake in New Jersey. For all of my bravado, I was scared about being way off course. By taking off a semester I was now four classes behind and poor, to boot.


Chet Nevins - One Year Later

Last week we went back to my parents’ house for a family vacation and the hopes of teaching my daughters to ski.  Unfortunately my oldest daughter, Hope, contracted chicken pox so needless to say our plans had to be somewhat altered.  This meant that there was time to rummage around the house and to go through some of my old things.

As I did so I encountered my pilot’s log.  A little black book with only one entry….


February 22, 2005

Dean de Freitas - Men of Steel & Fire camera.gif

Ok Soph, here's a little story. Before Ray left the East Coast on his cross-country motorcycle trip, the Nevins held a farewell party at their house (aka Club Nevins) on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Mr. Nevins decided that we were going to roast a pig, which is exactly what we did. During the roasting process, the meat became quite tender. So tender, in fact, that the rod inserted throught the carcass to rotate the pig over the fire began to spin without the meat turning. We had to figure out how to get the pig rotated so that it would cook evenly, but every time we would get it turned, it would slip back down. We expended quite a bit of effort over that hot pit trying different options until we finally decided, as I recall, to just put the whole thing directly into the fire. We had to get the meat out by lifting the carcass in tandem using a couple of shovels and a pitchfork.

No meat ever tasted so good.

That was also my last visit to Club Nevins because I left DC a few days later to get married and move to Atlanta.

Ray later mailed me some pictures of that day, which I have included below. He wrote captions on both of them. While he is not in the picture on the left, he was the photographer. He labeled it "Men of Steel and Fire". The one on the right was captioned "Dean - Club Nevins - The Big Bash - July 1991".

February 20, 2005

Anthony DeLucia - Remembering Ray Indeed

I have many awesome memories of Ray, all tremendous.

But as I sit here nearly a year after his death, I still can’t come to terms with the senselessness of his demise.


February 01, 2005

Greg Wald camera.gif

It's coming on the anniversary of Ray's passing and his wonderful presence and deeds remain in our thoughts and heart.

January 27, 2005

Harry Hanson camera.gif

Through Ron Etergino, I was fortunate enough to have met and spend time with Ray over the years. He was kind and his humor and demeanor gave off an aurora of contagious good feelings. I was given a few of the attached stickers for my hardhat. I work for GE Energy Management Services at Gas Turbine sites all over the US and the world , most of them under construction at the time of my work. I have copied and distributed the sticker to many other of my co workers along with how special a person Ray was. The sticker prompts many people to ask about it's origin at these sites. The story of Ray's accident, his personality and what he left behind are told them. It touches, even if only briefly, every person that hears it and reminds us all of how important safety is.


GE Energy
Harry Hanson
Senior Project Manager
GE Energy Management Services, Inc.

November 24, 2004

Victoria Greeley

This is the week of Thanksgiving. The day itself will mark 9 months since we lost Ray. That loss has colored so much in our lives, but it makes me doubly aware of all in my life for which I am truly thankful. I am thankful that I was able to know Ray, if even for such a short time-his impact on my life was indelible. I am thankful that my darling daughter knew such a full and true love. I am thankful that Ray fathered my beautiful granddaughter Rose-she brings joy to our lives! I am thankful that Ray had SO many good and true friends, because all of you can help Sophie to keep her life on track, and can help Rose to become the kind of daughter and person that Ray would have done.

I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you will take extra time to count all your blessings and to give all those you love an extra hug and kiss. Victoria Ford Greeley

November 02, 2004

The Ray O'Neal camera.gif

The Ray O'Neal at its first event.

September 20, 2004

Chet - New Boat Named for Ray

I have just received a message from the Tulane Rowing coach that we have been successful at raising enough money to have a new boat dedicated in Ray's name. This is certainly a befitting honor that I know would make Ray proud.

It will be great to know that other students well into the future will be touched by his life and remember Ray.

Wish you could be here to see it buddy.


July 15, 2004

Hard Hat

The hard hat sticker created in memory of Ray by the guys at the project where Ray worked. THe sticker was printed without the company logo so that subcontractors would be able to wear them too.


June 25, 2004

Victoria Greeley

Today, June 25th, marks four months since Rays tragic death. It has been a hard time for all who loved Ray-IMAGINE what it has been like for Sophie and Rose!

Think back to the words and feelings expressed at the memorial gathering for Ray...then

write a letter, make a call, send an email, or, better yet, arrange a visit. It will be an emotional boost for Sophie and Rose-and for you too!!

Take care of yourselves

Victoria Greeley (Sophie's Mommy)

June 14, 2004

Anthony Delucia - Wedding San Fran Style

Here's a little something I "composed" after Ray's wedding. I rediscovered it while cleaning up my old computer.

Wedding San Fran Style


Martin Rambusch - Birthdays

Well last Friday was a ponderous day. It was the 38th anniversary of Ray's birth. A day that is hard for me to forget in that it is my birthday as well. I have been encouraged by my parents, you could read mother, in that it seems most family teaching is by mothers, that it is better to give then receive and that birthdays could become quite exciting days if we gave things on them to friends and family instead of receiving them. If you think about this it would make all year long a party of receiving things during the year sort of like a chain letter.


June 09, 2004

Lisa Herrenbruck camera.gif

At Ray's Memorial Service I told a story about a Mexican meal I cooked for Ray & Sophie after my husband & I returned from Zihuatanejo last May. You may recall the point of my telling that story was to illustrate Ray's kind, quiet, and considerate demeanor. Despite how awful everyone else around the table found the flavor of the dish Ray kept forking that food into his mouth with a sweet smile on his face - without complaint. (Sophie insists Ray liked the way it tasted - I just can't believe that's true!)


May 11, 2004

Martin Rambusch - Two Months Later camera.gif

As two sad months of reflection have come and gone I have slowly brought into focus a small hard crystalline nugget from the tragedy of Ray's passing and that is my friend and buddy from college was a craftsman and a builder. Not only do I mean his vocation but I mean his avocation. Ray quietly and almost in a sneaky way built things. It is curious that in thinking of him so many times these last few days this has finely dawned on me.


April 15, 2004

James Garrett

What can I say about Ray that has not already been said?


Robyn Eisenberg

Dear Sophie, Rose and Mr. O’Neal:

I have been working at Brannan Square for one year and had the honor to know your Ray. Ray is in my thoughts every day and I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the impact he had on my life here at Brannan.


April 08, 2004

Roland Van Benten

My first recollection of Ray was when I first took over the office in April 2001. At the time Ray was sitting at the back of the office and was finishing off 899 Howard St and some other interior renovation work. At the time I thought Ray was always very positive and got things done in a quiet sort of way.


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.


April 04, 2004

Ali Heine

My dear Sophie,

I read your note today and I thought it was time that I began to write...my first memory of Ray was, of course, at the boxing gym with you and Marian. I was traveling on business in San Francisco and since your gym was near Moscone then you invited me along. It just so happened that I would be able to meet Ray, your crush at the time. I'll never forget walking into the gym and seeing all of the punching bags. People were dodging back and forth and I was so curious to meet him. You finally pointed him out and Marian and I giggled like school girls. The best part about that day was seeing how your eyes lit up when you looked at him, and in turn, the way he looked at you. I knew there was definitely something special between the two of you.


March 30, 2004

Janet Ford

My name is Janet Ford. I am Sophie’s aunt and Ray always called me “Aunt Janie”. Whenever I was with him or even talking on the telephone, he made me feel special - as if I was the one of the most important people in his life. As anyone can attest who was fortunate enough to know Ray – he made everyone feel that way. He adopted Sophie’s family with open arms and often said that he was so happy to have married into such a big family…..little did he know!


March 28, 2004

Photo Postcards camera.gif

This is one of the many " Photo Postcard Pictures" I received from Ray over the years, circa 1994. The photo is from the last time Ray and I had seen each other at that point, at Peter Zvejniek's wedding in Atlanta.  It's one of the reasons Ray was able to stay in touch with so many people in so many places. He would take a photo he had, write a note on the back and mail it. He actually ran out of room on this photo, so it arrived in an envelope. My wife Margaret found it unexpectedly while going through a desk drawer this week. It is at the same time uplifting and heartbreaking for me to look at and read. But it does give wonderful insight and reflection of Ray as a person and friend so I wanted to share it. - Anthony DeLucia

March 27, 2004

Delt Life of Excellence

An email I wrote today nominating Ray for an award to be presented by Delta Tau Delta alumni in the San Francisco Bay area.


I received my Rainbow yesterday, and noticed the blurb about the upcoming Delt Day by the Bay in May event, as well as the proposed award to recognize a brother who lived a life of excellence.


Philip Ford

Sweet Sophia,

The first time I met Ray was at mother and father's house. I don't remember what the occasion was but I do remember meeting him for the first time. When we shook hands I felt as though I had entered a warm, friendly comfort zone. The feeling remains today. I am certain that I am a better person for having met him.
Tio Felipe

March 24, 2004

Janki DePalma camera.gif

My name is Janki DePalma, and I want to share this brief story about Ray to you all, if only to show how small acts of kindness can touch people in unseen ways. Forgive the ramblings and the incomplete thoughts... they just seem to flow this way right now.


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.


March 17, 2004

Bill Linn

Ray's childhood neighbor

I am saddened to hear about the death of Ray. I'm a million miles from him today, but as a young kid, I was the immediate neighbor of his father Ray. We lived next to his father for more than 20 years on Reliez Valley Road in Lafayette. Little Ray, as we called him, didn’t live there all the time, but I did see him off and on over the years. If my memory serves me right, I first met him in 1975 or 1976. He was a good kid albeit a bit awkward in his youth.


March 12, 2004

Casey Shaw camera.gif

I met Ray the first day of Tulane's Freshmen Orientation in '84. He had huge hands and an impressive handshake. We were compatable room mates who became fast friends, perhaps our western attitudes made the difference.

He was very close to his Dad which impressed me.


Fred Parcesepe

Ant, Ronnie, and the rest of the boys who have made me feel as one of the members of your brotherhood. If you feel appropriate you can share this with Rays wife also.


March 11, 2004

Chris Sheehan

Ray, you were a gentleman, a strong gentleman, and a great friend. You had a wonderful sense of humor and were delightful to be around. You made me smile the minute I saw you, without saying a word, no matter when or where. I will preserve forever an image of your smile in my mind from when you would pick me up at 5 AM in your Jeep to go to rowing practice, or to take me home, at the same time on occasion, from the French Quarter.


Mike Hayo camera.gif

I have thought a lot about Ray these past two weeks. He, his beautiful wife Sophie, and their Rosebud are a big part of our life. I, my wife Abigail, and our boys Edward and Michael miss him dearly. By the way, he is known affectionately as Uncle Tiny to his nieces and nephews.


March 10, 2004

Martin Rambusch

Today is two weeks without saying hello to Ray. Something that a few weeks ago would seem trivial and something we could resolve with a quick call to check in. Tragically that is no longer the case.

I have spent every day leading up to the memorial service and everyday since with the overwhelming feelings of guilt and envy. Trying to bring to words the emotions of the loss of Ray are quite a challenge. Ray, whom I got to know at Tulane, was many things fellow rower, roommate, birthday mate, and friend. It is tragic that something so meaningless and without reason would happen.


Bret Osterberg

Ray helped me buy my first brand new car. I must have been 22 years old, and Ray 25, the day we drove up to the dealership in Carson, CA to look at a model I had considered purchasing. The stop at the Ford dealer was completely improvised. We were sort of on a general mission to see what the day had in store for us, with no set plan. The next thing we knew we were going to check out some automobiles. I figured that Ray knew a lot about cars so I wanted to get his impression and feedback before I made an investment.


March 09, 2004

Matthew Sheehan

although our friendship was brief it will be forever etched in my memory. we met at tulane. we rowed together and enthusiastically celebrated life together, new orleans style.

when i was young my father suggested that if i wanted to grow to be a man i should espouse to the virtues spelled out in kipling's poem IF.

ray embodied all these virtues the first day I met him. he was both a mentor and teacher.

a gentleman, in the true sense of the word.

peace ray. you will be missed.


March 08, 2004

Dan Tarman

I letter I sent to Jack Epstein the day after the service that contains my reflections about the memorial service and our Brother Ray


Just a quick note to keep you up to speed. Yesterday was Ray's memorial service. To say it was heartbreaking is an understatement. We were told that there were about 600 people there, packed into the SF Yacht Club. A whole slew of Delts attended...Knox, Chet, Delucia, Doncaster, Wedul, John Canapary, Waldo, de Freitas, White man, Paul Reilly, Sweeney, Etergino (I'm sure I'm forgetting a few).


March 05, 2004

Rob Kraus camera.gif

As I sit here and try to put some thoughts down I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness, I know that’s not the way Ray would have wanted it but looking at the pictures on this website just makes you wonder Why? I can only remember Shitty Ray and crack a smile. He was so full of life and love and happiness. Always smiling and always up--- He was the only man I knew who could eat a beer. I can still hear him shout a good WOO WOO as I think back on the incredible times we shared together, in college, on the infamous booze cruises or in the beginning of his professional life where he went to go work for my dad for a period of time. New Jersey wasn’t for Ray. The adventurer he was he bought a bike and moved out west where he belonged. I’ll miss you Ray but I will never forget the great memories and times we shared together.

We will meet again, love Krasuer

March 02, 2004

Vivi Brown

Ray was the type of friend everyone wanted to have. He was kind, fun, generous and full of smiles. We are all lucky to have known him. He will be missed.

Paul Riley

Ray was a good, solid person. No doubt about it. He lived life the way it was meant to be lived; and did so with class. My wife and I consider ourselves lucky to have met and known Ray. He is a good example to us all.


Fina Johnson

Ray was one of my dearest friends. From when we met in college to our many years after college, Ray and I had so many wonderful memories together. To mention a few: Club Nevins, our various road trips to Mexico, Palm Springs, and even riding on his bike from LA to San Fran on Hwy 1. Ray was the eternal optimist; happy, adventuring, always up for a good time, never in a bad mood, always doing whatever he could to make everyone happy. If only the world had more people like Ray it would be a so much better place. Ray was like the brother that I never had and I will miss him terribly.

My love always,

Fina Johnson

Franny Carrera-Justiz camera.gif

I believe that in life we have the privelege of choosing who our friends are, and I am proud to say that Ray was a dear friend of mine. Ray had a bigger than life persona and approached the world as such. Thus, it was always a pleasure to be with Ray. We met on the Tulane Rowing team and extended our frienship along to our professional careers starting out in NYC. Ray, thank you for all the wonderful memories and all of the "Cuba Libres" we enjoyed together.

Your friend Franny.

March 01, 2004

Gabe Smith

Ray was a kind and generous man who is well remembered here in New Orleans by the members of the House Corporation and the Alumni Chapter of Delta Tau Delta.

We are all very sad for this huge loss and feel for his family....we know that he is doing good things in another place.

Dean de Freitas

Ray was one of those people you always hear about - you know the kind. Everybody, and I mean everybody, who met Ray liked him. He was as genuine a "good guy" as there ever was. He would give you the shirt off of his back if he thought it would make you happy, and he'd do it with a huge smile and his arm over your shoulder, making you feel like it was no big deal that he had just saved your life.


February 29, 2004

Jason Valentzas camera.gif

I am sending around a few photos from the old Tulane days that I think capture Ray's positive and happy disposition. Unfortunately I hadn't seen Ray in quite some time but I will always remember his big smile and easy going attitude.


From the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, February 29, 2004

O'NEAL, Ray Ryan - Ray was the extraordinarily loving husband of Sophie and beloved and devoted father to Rose Ellen. He passed away unexpectedly after an accident on February 25, 2004. Ray was born in Berkeley, CA, on June 11, 1966 to Capt. Ray O'Neal and the late Helen Hayden. His adored second mother was Sally Welch Young. He is survived by his father, Ray; stepmother, Suzanne; and aunt, Robin; his beloved sister Abigail Hayo and husband, Mike; brother, Bill Young and wife, Inger; his brothers-in-law, Blaise Simqu, James Garrett, Sean O'Connell and Richard Julien; his adored nieces and nephews, Edward and Michael Hayo, Johnson, Margo, Gunnar, and Emmett Young, William and Isabelle Simqu, Jack Garrett, Cameron and Haleigh O'Connell and Dean and Coryn Julien. He is also survived by stepbrothers, Ray and Justin Mathis.


February 26, 2004

Ron Etergino camera.gif

I am personally struggling with the confusion and senselessness of this tragedy.  Ray was the kindest, most genuine person I have ever met. His selflessness and smile made this world a lot brighter and I will miss him dearly.