December 29, 2009

Richard and Ray

I started SCUBA diving back in 2002. Actually, I started back in the 70's but didn't do any diving after I moved to Atlanta in 1985. Then, in 1988 I had my accident and my world changed. Other than taking flying lessons (yes I soloed and without hand controls) and traveling overseas with my mother, my life pretty much consisted of work, work, and more work. I didn't want anyone to think that the only reason I had my job was because I was a cripple. I did not want to be a Diversity (All Hail Diversity!) worker.

Back in 2002, the Shepherd Center Recreation Therapy Department teamed up with Bert Quist at Divers@Sea and started running SCUBA trips down to the Caribbean. I wasn't able to go on the trip to Bonaire in 2002 (Got a skin sore on my bum) but I did go to Roatan in 2003. That is where I met Richard and Ray.

Ray was a sky diver and a SCUBA diver. He had over 1100 jumps. I believe the actual number was 1183. On his last jump, his main chute got tangled and he tried for too long to fix it before ditching it and opening his reserve chute. As such, he hit the ground and received a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When you consider the accident, he was lucky to be alive.

Richard was Ray's father. Richard learned how to SCUBA dive so he could go on trips with Ray. On the Roatan trip, Ray's sister and her boyfriend came along with Richard and Ray.

Richard and Ray both served in the Navy and were both Aviation Electronics Technicians. They both served on carriers. Richard was in the Korean War. Ray was in Gulf War I.

People with TBI have memory problems along with other issues. For example, Ray is partially paralyzed on the right side. He walks with a pronounced limp. Ray and I would have the following conversation on almost every trip.

Ray: Were you in the Navy?

GOC: Yes

Ray: What were you?

GOC: I was an ET.

RAY: I was an AT.

GOC: In retrospect, I should have gone that way instead of ET. I probably would not have gotten seasick.

Over the years we have seen a great improvement in Ray. He used to forget my name from year to year. Now he remembers it.

Richard had a wealth of entertaining stories that he would tell us about his Navy career and how he moved to Atlanta and how he met his wife.

Every time the announcement for the Shepherd Center SCUBA Crip Trip would go out, Richard and Ray would always be the first to sign up. There were only two SCUBA trips that I went on that Richard and Ray didn't go on and that was because these were not crip trips per se.

I just got notified yesterday that Richard died at the age of 76. I'm going to the funeral parlor tonight to pay my final requests. The dive trips are just not gonna be the same without Richard. I'm really gonna miss him.

Posted by denny at December 29, 2009 01:54 PM  Category: My Soft Side

My condolences on the passing of your friend.

Posted by: phthaloblu on December 29, 2009 02:43 PM

The loss of a friend always leaves a big hole. Just have to remember they're still with you: not here (hooks thumb to right), but here (hand over heart).

Posted by: pete on December 29, 2009 03:06 PM

I have always said
"Heaven is being remembered by those you Left Behind"

Denny you just gave Heaven to your Friend

Posted by: ty/Guy/Neil on December 29, 2009 04:02 PM

Very sorry to hear this, Denny! :(

Posted by: PeggyU on December 29, 2009 04:02 PM

I'm so sorry, Denny. I'm sorry for you... and sorry and horrified for Ray. What a great man to look after his son like that. Richard was a hero. Thank you for telling us about him; we hear so few good stories about good people. He died too young.

Posted by: Bou on December 29, 2009 04:16 PM

My condolences on the passing of your dear friend as well.

Posted by: defshepard on December 29, 2009 05:06 PM

Damn, Denny, that sucks. I hope he got to enjoy Christmas with his family without knowing the end was coming so soon. Ignorance can be bliss. (That's why Nancy Pelosi's always smiling.)

But on the bright side he won't have to deal with ObamaCare.

As for Ray...

As such, he hit the ground and received a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

He should run for Congress. He's at least as qualified as Al Franken.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on December 29, 2009 05:14 PM

Deeply sorry for Richard's family and friends. Not that many exceptional people in this world. He must have appreciated your company a lot, too, Denny. Yes! you will miss him a lot.

Posted by: Claudia on December 29, 2009 05:16 PM

Sorry, Denny.

Posted by: Jim - PRS on December 29, 2009 05:35 PM


We go thru life & meet many people , we are fortunate from time to time to make acquaintance with some who are special...those who enrich the live`s of other`s. When they pass as we all shall, the whole world lose`s, it is very hard on those who know it.

My condolance`s to you , Ray & all who knew Richard .....He was one of those who was special.


Posted by: dudley1 on December 29, 2009 07:10 PM

Hate to hear this, man. Thanks for sharing the memories w/us, he sounds like he was one helluva fine fella...

Posted by: Sandy G. on December 29, 2009 07:24 PM

As others have mentioned, being fondly remembered is the mark of a well-lived life. To be fondly remembered by a good man such as yourself, well that is even more of an accomplishment. Sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Harper on December 29, 2009 08:00 PM

Damn Denny. Sorry you lost a good buddy. Richard sounds like a good dude. WTF is going on with lots of my friends losing someone in the last month?

Posted by: CharlieDelta on December 29, 2009 11:49 PM

I'm sorry for your loss. Good friends are few and far between.

Posted by: Catara on December 30, 2009 07:41 AM


I'm so sorry. I can almost feel the whole in your heart.


Posted by: schaef on December 30, 2009 08:48 AM

My condolences to you and the family. Remember the good times with a smile, that's the best thing you can do.

Imperial Keeper

Posted by: Elizabeth on December 30, 2009 09:03 AM

Denny- sorry to hear about your friend Richard. My best to you and his family.

Posted by: inbredredneck on December 30, 2009 09:18 AM

Do you know which airwing/ship ray was on? We had an AT1 richard cro**** in my squadron
(VA-176/cv-59) wondering if it was the same person..

Posted by: snappy on December 31, 2009 10:37 AM

My family's prayers go to you and Richard's familes.
This old skimmer can only say 'fair winds and following seas, brother.'

Posted by: Jim on December 31, 2009 12:16 PM

snappy - Not the same person.

Posted by: Denny on December 31, 2009 02:08 PM

Saddened to read about the loss of your friend. Hope his son is handling his father's passing as best as he can. I can't beat the eloquence of those who came before my message, so I echo their sentiments.

Posted by: SierraCheryl on December 31, 2009 04:52 PM
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