Farewell To A Good Man — #RIP Ray Wadsworth
What does it take to be great man? Is it holding high office, making millions, inventing the next best thing? Maybe it simply takes being a good man willing to step up and lead, sacrifice and give of himself for the betterment of his community.
This was the life lived by our friend Ray Wadsworth. Ray passed away last week. Now I know you most likely don't know who he is, unless of course you're one of the thousands of people in my hometown who knew, interacted with and counted on his strength, determination and commitment to our community. Among the many things that he did, Ray served as Fire Chief during his 55 years with Mercer Engine Company No. 3. He also created an organization called "Spirit of Princeton" holding events for families in our town to mark Memorial Day, July 4th, Veterans Day and helping the community properly dispose of worn and tattered American flags on Flag Day. Ray was a tireless advocate for first responders and law enforcement. Ray is the man who made sure that a beam from the World Trade Center was placed properly in our town to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. He was a little league coach, husband, father and grandfather. Ray was also a faithful servant at St. Paul's parish. My wife Jodi and I typically attend Mass at 7am on Sunday and would often see Ray, who lived near the Church, walking from his home, jacket and tie on, smiling on his way to fulfill his duties as the head usher for the morning masses.
As we walked to the funeral home, it was hard not to notice the perfect weather. Warm, but not too much and low humidity. I was reminded that every time we had an event, whether it was the Memorial Day parade or the Fourth of July fireworks, the day before, regardless of the forecast, Ray would reassure all of us in the Spirit of Princeton group that God would make sure we had good weather. And in every event that I can remember, we did. I'm pretty confident Ray had a conversation in heaven on Tuesday night making sure the weather would be perfect on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning to accommodate the many people wanting and needing to say a final farewell.
The outpouring of support from the community for his family who survives him was amazing to witness on Wednesday as waves of people from the town, including uniformed police and firefighters was a sight to see. It's not often that you get that emotional when a man achieving the age of 80 passes away. After all, that's a nice run and he was active till the end. But yesterday was different. As Jodi and I paid our respects to his widow Jacqueline, daughter-in-law Elizabeth and his grandson Keith, it was clear that this man was larger than life. His grandson was in his firefighters uniform ready to step up and fill the big shoes left behind by his grandfather Ray. We know he will carry on his grandfather's legacy proudly.
In my book, greatness doesn't have to be success measured as wealth and power. Sometimes greatness can simply be measured by the many lives that were touched in such a positive way by a good man. Rest in peace, Ray. You will be missed.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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