MOUNT VERNON — Raymond L. Gill, 65, died early Saturday morning, April 11, 2009, at The Laurels of Mount Vernon.
He was born Oct. 28, 1944, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he grew up with his two brothers, Charlie and Jerry, and sister, Diane; played Little League, found mischief; went to elementary, middle and high school; wrestling and running track, barefoot. He went on to college, the army in California.
In California, in the late 1960s, he found his soul’s kin in the counterculture and met his wife Linda. Ray and Linda moved to backwoods Maine with their daughter, Sarah, to homestead. In building their log home, Ray fell from a ladder and was permanently injured, confined to a wheelchair. Ray shifted his focus without forfeiting his purpose; he went to law school at USM and in 1984 was awarded the title of Esquire. Ray became a champion of and voice for the chronically unrepresented. He worked at the Maine Human Rights Commission, where he passionately defended the rights of disabled Americans, and The South Texas Legal Project, where he fought for the rights of farm workers, was awarded the prestigious J. Chrys Dougherty Award in 1998, and met and marched with Cesar Chavez.
Though these are fine achievements, perhaps the events that brought him more joy than all of the above were the births of his grandsons, Samuel in 1999 and Oliver in 2007. Ray embraced grandparenthood with the delight and enthusiasm he brought to each chapter of his life. He moved to Ohio in 2002 with his family. In Mount Vernon, Ray volunteered with Easter Seals and Creative Foundations and found joy and meaning spending time with individuals with disabilities. The last seven years of Ray’s life were a struggle with illnesses and a testament to resiliency. Ray, with his love of physics, Shakespeare, the natural world, politics, Bob Dylan, history and humanity has touched the lives of all the people he has known. He was a compassionate and truly beautiful person. He will be deeply missed.
Ray’s family will accept donations for a bench and plaque in Ray’s honor to go along the Gap Trail. Checks can be made payable to the BFEC and sent to BFEC, P.O. Box 508, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH 43022.