Though sharp to the end (at least last I saw him), I was afraid this time was coming because he had been looking progressively more frail as of late. I will definitely miss him and our long conversations.
I remember when the Stits covering line was new...the old timers at the airport wouldn't use it. Set in their ways...no way they were gonna use anything but cotton and dope. They had a duster business and used Stearmans and Cubs and were always recovering at least one every winter. After the Stits line started getting some good press they got a little interested; enough to start looking into it. Finally decided to "take a chance" and recovered a Stearman with it. They never looked back...die hard Stits fans from then on. They got me on it in the late 70s I think it was. It's all I've ever used. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
Ray was great guy on a personal and professional level. He was fascinating to talk to although I hadn't had the chance to do so for several years. He was also very kind to me. Back in 1999, I sprained my ankle on the first day of Oshkosh* and as I was gimping my way back from my car to the campsite on crutches, this golf cart pulls up and I hear a voice go "Son, do you need a lift?". That's how I met Ray. Every time I saw him after that over the years, he always started with "Stephen! How's the ankle treating you?". I'll miss him.
*- The first of three times I've been hurt at Oshkosh. Two sprained ankles and getting clipped by a teenager zipping around on a golf cart.