Ray was born in Georgetown, British Guyana on October 25, 1934. His family was Muslim, so he learned and always remembered Muslim prayers, but as a young boy he went to Agricola Methodist Elementary School where he also learned many hymns and Christmas carols, which he loved to sing. For high school, he attended Central High in Georgetown, excelled academically, became a Prefect, acted in numerous school plays, and even won the CocaCola Spelling Bee competition.
At 18, he was accepted into the Officer Cadet Program at the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy in England where he not only learned and practised military manoeuvres, but also learned to box and joined the boxing team. Boxing then became his lifelong sporting interest. He would watch every match he could, especially the Friday night fights, and subsequently followed the lives of many boxers, such as Archie Moore (with whom he took a much-cherished photo), Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
After graduating from Sandhurst, he was commissioned to the Jamaica Regiment as Guyana was still a British colony and didn’t have an army. During the ten years he spent in Jamaica, he married Nellie Evelyn Preston and had two children, Ramona (1960) and Ramon (1962). He left the army and joined Caribbean Atlantic Life Insurance Company as a Sales Agent.
In 1965, he was invited to return to Guyana as Major Ray Sattaur to help recruit and train soldiers for the Guyana Defence Force, an army for the about-to-become-independent Guyana. While there, he had the great honour of escorting Queen Elizabeth II on her inspection of the troops during her Royal Caribbean Tour of 1966. Ever since then, he always kept in touch with his many friends in the army. As he was not appointed to head up the army after independence, he made the decision to immigrate to Canada in 1967.
After arriving in Canada, he attended Sir George Williams University in Montreal for a year and then moved to Toronto where, at the first opportunity, he became a Canadian citizen. He married Gwenne Wardle in 1970. His first job was with Empire Life Insurance Company after he answered an ad asking for “Odd Balls”. He became a very successful Life Insurance Agent and made the renowned Million Dollar Round Table. He continued to work in the Life Insurance business for thirty years with Heritage Life, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association of Canada, and the Life Underwriter’s Association of Canada.
After retirement, he gave up playing cricket and decided to take up golf, which he pursued with a fervent passion, even joining a golf club so he could play several times a week. He also continued travelling throughout the world. Ray was a voracious reader and there were always two or three books on his bedside table. He enjoyed reciting famous passages from Shakespeare and quoting Churchill. He loved watching movies, especially the ones on the Turner Classic Movies channel. He read the Globe and Mail every day, from cover to cover, and every week he completed the Toronto Star’s Sunday crossword. He had a memory like a steel trap door and loved playing the original Trivial Pursuit, which he invariably won. He enjoyed all types of music and had a vast collection of CDs, which included classical, country, pop, and opera. His real passion, however, was for opera, and he attended many live performances by the Canadian Opera Company and regularly went to the cinema to see “Live at the Met.” Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Andrea Bocelli were his favourite tenors. He had a beautiful tenor voice himself and loved to sing along whenever he heard one of his favourites. He would often lead sing-songs whenever he was travelling with a group. Once, while on a funicular to San Gimignano, Italy with his daughter, he started to sing “Funiculi, Funicula” and everyone in the car cheered and joined in!
Ray, a true officer and a gentleman, will be sadly missed by his wife of 51 years, Gwenne, his daughter, Ramona, his son, Ramon (Karen), his granddaughters, Sarah and Rebecca, and all his relatives and many friends.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his memory to a charity of your choice.
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