On the evening of December 20th 2020 Lonny Ray passed away. This Mississippi native, Lonny Ray was a man that God placed in this writers life at the most perfect time.
Before I met Lonny Ray you would think that The Rays saved me, based on my tone in this sentence you would think that next I would say, I saved them - I'm not. There was no one saving each other from anything. It was a merging of life journeys. It was the forming of a family. This started in May of 2019, for me. For Lonny the story goes back way before me.
For many years Lonny Ray was "the social worker", professionally and in the streets. You see I only had Lonny Ray in my life for just a few months. In those few months I was introduced to a man that I couldn't physically relate too but I could soulfully connect with.
I heard many stories of Lonny's relationships. People, like Jim ,that Lonny invited to stay on the property, just like me, and how our stories were similar. The potbelly pig and all the peacocks to name a few others that Lonny invited to stay awhile too. Lonny even got romantically involved with some broken pieces of concrete, I heard. He really did take anything in, case in point, ME.
When the passion in Rayville was really flying were the many conversations of the ever so famous Lonny Ray Summer Day Camp. The camp stories are endless. The relationship between Lonny and his wife Beverly is explained through the success and struggles of 2 businesses that enrich and changed little lives every day. That is where the passion comes from.
The many times that Beverly couldn't sleep at night because of the eccentric dreams of the most eclectic man I have ever met.
Yet the one sentence that still gives me chills, " Everyone is the same at camp."
The legendary eclectic man named Lonny Ray never raised his voice but children would fear you tell Lonny anything they had done wrong. Some kids had no idea that Lonny would let them on the camp bus whether they had paid for camp, or not. Lonny never worried about whether the bills could be paid, or not. Some may have just baked a pie for Lonny and he said ,"Come on! Your going to camp today".
His passion to help and assist wasn't just for children, he worked endlessly with rehab centers to help rehabilitate addict's and abusers. Creating his own set of trust and group exercise spots all over his 92 acre camp.
Lonny and I were connected by our love for music too. Although we didn't have the same taste in music as each other we appreciated each others interest in music. He was forever asking me to listen to something on his phone or a Facebook live stream that one of his music friends was conducting.
The last few months of Lonny Ray he was nothing like all the stories I had heard. I loved Lonny Ray because I know he loved me but I don't get it twisted at all, there were 1,000's of others before more. I know the honor it is to have known Lonny Ray, I know what he directly or indirectly did for me just like all those others before, I just get to write about it.
My tribute to Lonny Ray is very intertwined with me and you may find it odd that my tribute would be written for Crooked River Revival. You must know that with out Lonny Ray and the last year and half, I wouldn't be right here, right now. No doubt.
Fly high my friend, keep a watch over us all. Help me keep the music in my heart and the creativeness in my soul, until I see you again!