By Leonard Lookner | Dec 27, 2012
Photo by: Ben Ellison

We all remember Bruce Ray who came to Camden in 1972 with his wife Karen and enjoyed it so much that they became permanent members of our community.  Byron Haining II at Vision Builders, thought so much of Bruce when he met him that he loaned him $300 to rent an apartment and hired him to work building houses.   Bruce was a guy with an infectious personality, had many talents and an adventurous spirit.  A motorcycle, skis, or a sail boat were all part of Bruce’s adventure and unlike most of us, Bruce could make about anything work.

After spending years as a builder and home designer, he moved on to become the facilities manager for Camden National Bank and although I doubt he could fix an ATM I wouldn’t be surprised.  He retired from Camden National and decided to go the way he came, the sea.  Sold his house, bought a boat, battled a couple of health issues and by October of 2005 was headed off to the warmer climates of the Bahamas.

It was fun, keeping in contact with Bruce all those years through email and cell phone.  I remember talking him into getting a cell phone and buying a computer with him with the curiosity that it opened up.  Bruce was now “plugged in” and if you knew Bruce, then you know that a phone conversation with him could take a Sunday morning.

Every summer, like this past one Bruce would come back to Camden like a migrating bird and this year being no exception, Bruce was back to get his annual check up, things looked good, and a little cruising on the Bay and then the long trek back to the Bahamas where he became a regular in The Exumas as a volunteer, building facilities at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park at Waderick Wells.  It was a life that Bruce loved, and he was loved by the many people he met and helped along the way.

The last time I saw Bruce was in a little Town on The C and D Canal called Chesapeake City.  Bruce had just sailed from New York Harbor, perhaps over 200 miles and 38 hours.  He was happy and full of life as we ambled up the street  to have a great breakfast that I will always remember.  Two years ago Bruce upgraded his boat to one more comfortable and had refrigeration so he didn’t have to drink warm beverages and could eat fresher food.  It was the third “Zingara,” the name of the boat he and Karen owned and the Rival 34 he left Camden in  2005.  For Zingara means, female gypsy, and Bruce spent his last few happy years wandering the east coast with his chosen gypsy lover.

Although Bruce made it once again to Vero Beach in Florida, his body was racked with the pain of a non treatable Cancer when he got there. As you might sense, we lost Bruce the day before Christmas. He lovingly and thankfully  was in the care of his brother Bob who moved him to Maryland to better care for him.

We can feel the pain of the loss of not having Bruce as a spirit to befriend and converse with but Bruce lived his life the way he wanted to having that  freedom and adventure to within days of calling it quits.  He was an inspiration to the thought of doing it now before it is too late.

Rest in Peace, Bruce, you left us with a great example.  It is hard to think that your voice has fallen silent.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ben Ellison | Dec 27, 2012 20:26

Bridget, as I understand it Bruce gotten taken down by an entirely different damn cancer than the one he'd struggled with.

It's a bit spooky that Leonard and I, who last saw Bruce together, both posted about him nearly simultaneously. My take here:

Posted by: Bridget & Richard Qualey/Stetson | Dec 27, 2012 19:59

Thank you SO much Leonard for this remembrance of Bruce.  I remember when he and Karen lived on their early Zingara in the inner harbor. I talked to him a few years ago and knew of his cancer diagnosis- on one of his "check-up" visits.  Last I talked to him he declared it was under control.  Now he has furled his last sail.  I bless him as I remember his indomable spirit.

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