Since he’s been gone, it’s like my heart just don’t beat right.

— Joyful Noise

I relied on Ray to be my protector. In fact, the name Ray means protector. Ray didn’t back down from things…sometimes to my horror. I am an appeaser and peacemaker. I want everyone happy, everyone to feel good. Sometimes his willingness to step up and testify made me uncomfortable…perhaps because I feared doing it myself.

Ray was unyielding to a fault, particularly around design and social issues. He was a deep thinker and he knew what was right on many fronts. He cared. Nothing was off limits when it came to defending the power of design and how it could make our clients successful. He was tenacious.

I take comfort in seeing these traits in our newly married Sarah Taliunas, our senior designer who Ray trained with love and intent. She is his protegé, and she does him proud. She shores me up when I feel like caving.

I see Ray — certainly in my wonderful kids, Peter and Cass, and my daughter-in-law, Kristen, his brother David and all his sisters, but also in Sarah — in Matt Warburton, Angie Opdahl, Melissa Keith, Dylan Staniul, Jim Skipp, Kirsten Skipp, Paul Roelofs, Kathy Boake, Perry Danforth, David Gray, Adam Rogers, Kim Blanchette, Victor John Penner, Albert Normandin, Phred Martin…There are dozens and dozens of people we have employed and worked with over our years in business and Ray touched every one of them. He is still alive in all of them. He schooled each of us in some way.

I miss him so badly. My guiding star — my compass is gone.