Friendship: Ray’s inspirational legacy
“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.”
This quotation from the poetry of W.B.Yeats was read to the large assembly at the funeral on 31 January 2014 of William Ray Eden: his personal request made just days before his death after a short illness.
Aged 92, Ray continued to build new friendships whilst remaining loyal to those he had made across his lifetime – and winning deep loyalty in return.
Charles Linaker, in a eulogy full of warmth and insight, pointed out the active role Ray played in the community right to the end – as the Newcastle CC committee member responsible for liaison with the Royal Grammar School, as an active member of the RGS “Novos”, and as recently appointed Deputy Chairman of the Jesmond Senior Men’s Club.
Ray’s wartime service with the 11th Hussars included being blown out of a tank when all the rest of his crew were killed. He served in the desert, in Italy and North West Europe, when he developed a lifelong friendship with a Dutch family he helped to rescue. They wrote to say that on a visit late in 2013, Ray told them how much he loved his “Garden of Eden” at the cricket club.
After the war he enjoyed a move to the United States, but returned home to support his family. He began his successful career in the grain industry in the North of England, which continued, even after retirement, as a consultant.
Ray’s wit, wisdom and constant drive and determination could fill a whole book. Snippets include:
Ray’s preparation and philosophical approach was inspirational to us all. He said that after his wartime experience, every day was a bonus. Close friend Nick, pictured below, recalls that Remembrance Day was marked every year, when he wore his medals and remembered with great sadness the men he had lost. Ray had shared with him the lessons he learned from his father, a butcher – in the Depression, he provided “tic” and even if it took several years, no-one failed to repay; his trust was rewarded when times improved.
His 2009 broadcast with Radio Tyneside of his “Desert Island Discs” included a favourite track – “My Way”. This interview was recorded by Dave Nicholson at the cricket club’s Jesmond Festival Open Day – we’ll see if we can add his reminiscences here – watch this space.
Friends were pleased to hear at the funeral that a home had been found for the devoted Lottie, the four-legged “Heinz 57 terrier” friend who was with Ray to the end. Many thanks to Nick for this.
Thanks too to the wonderful team from The Cherry Tree who not only gave Ray much pleasure with their company and hospitality but who were also (with the Rummage team across Osborne Road) alert enough to ensure speedy treatment when Ray had a stroke weeks before his 90th birthday. Just three weeks later he delivered a bravura performance at his lunchtime celebration, with a memorable word perfect speech without notes.
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