2018-01-12 / Society

Raymond E. Harris

Raymond E. Harris left this earth December 23, 2017, at Friends Village at Woodstown, New Jersey, after a five-month battle against complications caused by a stroke while at his home in Vermont. His life partner of 37 years Edmund Shay, nephew Dale and his wife DeeAnn Harris were by his side.

Born in Salem, New Jersey, February 23, 1935, of parents Roland W. Harris Sr. and Mary Ellen Shimp Harris, he was the youngest of six children.

Ray began studying piano at an early age. After graduating from Salem High School in 1953 he attended Westminster Choir College and served as a substitute organist at Memorial Baptist Church in Salem. After graduating from Westminster, Ray enrolled at Yale University, graduating from there and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study the organ in Copenhagen, Denmark.

While in Europe, he also studied in England at The Kings College, Oxford University. After returning home, Ray auditioned for several organist positions on the East Coast finally taking the position of music director and professor at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia.

After a number of years at Wesleyan, Ray took the position of organist and music director at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Columbia, S. C. from 1981-1997 when he retired.

In the 1970s he also was a member of a Renaissance music ensemble. Ray and Ed were formally married in a civil ceremony in Vermont on July 9, 2013. In addition to being a world class musician, he had a number of hobbies all of which he mastered. He was a gourmet cook, amazing pastry chef, master gardener (we always called his flower gardens in Vermont “Longwood North”), a voracious reader, and lover of all things English including English sitcoms which he thoroughly enjoyed.

When he was at his home in Vermont, Ray enjoyed attending plays, gardening, which was his passion, and jogging which he did until the time of his illness.

Until recent years, he also enjoyed hiking on his beloved Vermont mountains, canoeing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. All of this, of course, with his partner Ed.

When at their winter home in Washington, D.C., Ray attended plays, ballets, and operas at many venues including the Kennedy Center where he and Ed were members. Ray was a lover of animals, especially cats, and was a member of PETA and the ASPCA until the time of his illness.

He and Ed loved entertaining and were extremely generous hosts. They were always ready to open their homes to guests.

Sincere thanks to the staff of Friends Village for their efforts to help Raymond. He is survived by his partner Ed Shay, his cats Buster and Toby; brother David Harris of Alloway, New Jersey; nephew Dale Harris (DeeAnn) of Salem, New Jersey; niece Cynthia Tarry of Quinton, New Jersey; niece Karen Graeff (Eddie) of Salem, New Jersey; nephew James Harris ( Lorraine) of St. Louis, Missouri; niece Lora Hoffman ( John)of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; niece Brenda Goins(Oscar)of Salem, New Jersey; niece Kimberly Harmon (Darryl)of Carney’s Point, New Jersey; nephew Terry Harris ( Sherry); niece Connie Call(Reed), both of Pennsylvania; Sister-in-Law Hazel Harris of Pennsylvania; cousin Norman Shimp Jr.(Babs) of Shiloh, New Jersey; many grand nephews and nieces as well as his dear friends Luisita Guanlao and Alvaro Chavez of Washington, D. C.; Hazel Ann Davis and Pat Bullock of Salem; and Ray and Ed’s indispensable friend and caretaker Greg Poston of Vermont. No formal service is scheduled at this time. If you would like to donate to a charity in Raymond’s name, your local SPCA is suggested.

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