Tribute set to honor late Dick Ray of The Spectras
Founder of famous local band died Feb. 19
By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, February 25, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Community members will join legendary
New Hampshire band The Spectras
on stage this Saturday to rock out
Hampton in honor of the late Dick Ray,
a beloved Seacoast resident,
musician, teacher and friend.
HAMPTON — Community members will join legendary New Hampshire band The Spectras on stage this Saturday to rock out Hampton in honor of the late Dick Ray, a beloved Seacoast resident, musician, teacher and friend.
Ray, 66, a founding member of The Spectras, succumbed to terminal cancer on Feb. 19. Local residents have since been mourning his loss, as hundreds of social media posts have surfaced over the past week to honor some of the many immeasurable and deeply personal ways Ray impacted the community.
Ray's son, Thom, said he, The Spectras and many others will look to capture that lasting legacy in a special tribute and public celebration of Ray's life at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Winnacunnet High School auditorium.
"He was my hero," said Thom Ray, who said his family is "hanging in there."
Richard Harrison Ray was born on May 5, 1947, in Mineola, N.Y., later moving to Topsfield, Mass., where he attended high school. The avid musician and athlete brought his talents to the University of New Hampshire in the 1960s, which is where the rocking foundation was laid for one of the Granite State's most popular bands.
What started out in dorm rooms and laundry rooms turned into a half century of music and memories for Ray and the other founding members of The Spectras, which served as a house band at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom and opened for The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Janis Joplin and many others.
Bob Lassonde, a trumpet and piano player with The Spectras, first met Ray in college because his girlfriend was the roommate of Ray's girlfriend, Candice, whom Ray later married.
That connection helped Lassonde join the band when they began searching for horn players, and it also helped foster a lifelong friendship Lassonde said he'll always cherish.
The Spectras never did officially make it big due to the fact that the Vietnam War prevented them from signing a recording contract and tour offer from The Beach Boys, but that didn't stop them from recording and playing music all around the area for the past 49 years — or from gaining a huge following while doing it.
"The fact that this would've been our 50th summer, we're gonna make that happen because that was Dick's wish," said Lassonde. "He wanted to be known as group that lasted for 50 years. We're going to make that happen. Even though he won't be there, he'll be there in our minds and when we're on stage we'll be thinking about Dick.
"That's going to be difficult."
Lassonde credited Ray as the "best musician" and the "best ear" in the band, which is something Ray did as an English major in a sea of music majors. More than that, though, Lassonde credited Ray as an amazing friend.
"He was definitely the groove that kept us together," said Lassonde. "He was the driving force... He made it look so easy, and without him as a driving force we never would've made it to 50 years. Never. To be able to get up on stage, we have him to thank for that. And when we stop, I will miss it, but it will give me something think about and I have a lot of CDs of us to listen to, and it's because of him."
An effort is underway to dedicate a room at WHS to Ray, who spent 25 years as the school's choral director and nine as its assistant principal. Winnacunnet School Board Chairman Chris Muns said the honor would be a fitting one for the revered instructor, although that the idea must first go through the proper administrative channels before any decision is made on the matter.
"I didn't know him personally, but everything that I have heard is that he was a great teacher and he left a lasting impression on people," said Muns. "Those are the kinds of teachers and educators we want in the community, and to hopefully recognize as an example for others."
A sign honoring Ray currently hangs outside the WHS chorus room.
Saturday's celebration of life is open to the public, and residents and former students are expected to make remarks during the event.
Ray was buried at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, and donations in his honor may be made to the Richard H. Ray Memorial Fund.
Obituary of Richard H. Ray
May 5, 1947 - February 19, 2014
The Hampton Union, February 25, 2014
NORTH HAMPTON — Richard ("Dick") Harrison Ray, 66, of North Hampton, died Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at Hyder Family Hospice House in Dover.
Dick was born May 5, 1947, in Mineola, N.Y., son of the late Patricia (Wray) and John Ray of Topsfield, Mass.
He spent his childhood in Mineola, N.Y., Huntington Station, N.Y., and Topsfield, Mass.
Dick was a 1964 graduate of Masconomet High School, Topsfield, where he was a member of the concert band, chorus, jazz band and orchestra. He was a letterman in baseball and football. In his senior year, he co-captained the undefeated football team.
He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. He was involved in ROTC and concert choir.
Also while at UNH, Dick co-founded a rock band called the Spectras. The band served as house band for the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom four summers, from 1966 to 1969. The Spectras spent the last 49 years delighting audiences all over New England.
In late 1968, Dick was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was sent to Vietnam in October 1969, serving as adviser to the South Vietnamese Army. After his return, he remained an active member of the U.S. Army Reserves until he retired as a colonel in 1991.
His career in education spanned 37 years — 34 at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, (25 as choral director, nine as assistant principal); three at Spaulding High School in Rochester.
Dick was an active member of the United Church of Christ, North Hampton, since 1976. He was a Boy Scout leader and Little League coach. Whether it was with family, friends, work, music, the military or church, he threw himself wholeheartedly into every endeavor. The family will never forget his unique brand of humor and ability to make anyone laugh.
He is survived by his partner, Jean (Wirz) Duncan of Garrison, N.Y.; two sons, Thomas Ray of Dover and Andrew Ray of Rockland, Mass.; one daughter, Alison Ray Cavanagh of Washington, D.C.; three grandsons; three brothers, John Ray III of Baltimore, Md., James Ray of Westford, Mass., and Robert Ray of Derry.
Dick was predeceased by his wife, Candice (Allerup) Ray.
SERVICES: A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at Winnacunnet High School, 1 Alumni Drive, Hampton. Dick chose to be buried at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen.
Remembering Dick Ray
Musical tribute to local man who founded The Spectras
By Suzanne Laurent
Hampton Union, March 2, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
The Spectras perform “Let It Be” during a service of remembrance for
Dick Ray, founding member of The Spectras, Saturday at Winnacunnet
High School. Ray lost his battle with cancer Feb. 19. [Suzanne Laurent photo]
HAMPTON — With music, laughter and tears, the community came together Saturday to remember Dick Ray at Winnacunnet High School.
The auditorium was packed with those who recalled the legendary founding member of The Spectras, who was a beloved Seacoast resident, musician, teacher, father, brother and friend.
A highlight of the event was a heartfelt performance by current members of The Spectras of "Let It Be," a Lennon-McCartney classic.
"He left us a treasury of remembrances," said the Rev. Andy Gilman of the United Church of Christ in North Hampton, who officiated the service. After reading Psalm 23 with the audience, Gilman said, "Dick has gone through his seasons with us."
Ray lost his battle with cancer Feb. 19 at the age of 66. Last September, The Spectras played at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom as a tribute to him and he took the stage for the last time.
After a rendition of "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" by the UCC Choir, Winnacunnet High band director Stanley Bednarz told some humorous stories of "road trips" with his longtime colleague.
"I would drive and Dick would read the map," he said. "We were returning from Philadelphia and he decided we should have hot pastrami sandwiches at the Stage Deli in New York City that he heard about on the Johnny Carson show."
Bednarz said it was the day of no cell phones or GPS, and even the phone booths in New York City weren't of any help, as many had no phone books or even phones.
"After we walked about a million blocks, we found the Stage Deli," he said.
Kathryn Smith, a 1980 graduate of Winnacunnet, said it was invaluable to her having Ray as a mentor, as she was a pianist accompanying the chorus and chamber singers at the school.
Bruce Hawkins Jr. and Bob Lassonde, current members of The Spectras, talked of Ray's loyalty to his country, to his wife Candice and to himself.
Ray founded The Spectras in 1964 while at the University of New Hampshire with Chris Quackenbush, Les Warren and Chip Wayne.
Lassonde said there was a remembrance service six years ago to the day for Quackenbush.
Jack Ray, older by two years than his brother Dick, recalled his brother organizing a neighborhood army at the age of 10 and performing with him in a Massachusetts All-State Band Show.
Ray's daughter, Alison Ray Cavanagh, said her dad wore many hats, "often silly hats."
"But he always told me that if I wanted something in life to go after it — even a simple thing like a bowl of ice cream," she said. "But he also told me not to let my guard down or someone might take it away."
The Rev. Michele Bagby Allan of UCC North Hampton told of a man devoted to his church, where he was a 36-year member, and a man who will be remembered for "who he is — a loved child of God."
While Bednarz and the speakers who followed him told of some of the fun escapades involving Dick Ray over the years, Bednarz summed up a lot of emotions by saying, "All of us are better off for knowing Dick Ray, and I'm sure he's up there looking for new musical experiences."
Ray was buried at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. Donations in his honor may be made to the Richard H. Ray Memorial Fund at www.fundly.com/the-richard-h-ray-memorial-fund.
To watch a video of The Spectras performing at the service for Ray, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSj2vDQAvO8.