Ray Brum, who turned 79 this past spring, passed away recently, leaving behind his wife of 55 years (Maryann), his loving family, and enough memories to last a lifetime.
Unless you grew up in the late 1960s, and into the 1970s, and 1980s, you really couldn’t grasp the sports legend that was Raymond Brum. A soft-spoken, mild-mannered gentleman off the field of competition, Ray turned that description completely around on it.
It’s tough for me personally to be describing the virtues of this remarkable human being, having written about his athletic efforts in this newspaper weekly during his sports heyday, but I felt compelled to do so in light of what he accomplished on the baseball and softball diamond, as well as the basketball courts throughout his hometown.
Ray, who turned 79 this past spring, passed away recently, leaving behind his beautiful wife of 55 years (Maryann), his loving family, and enough memories to last a lifetime.
Ray’s background, as well-documented in his George Lima Funeral Home obituary, spells out his many accomplishments and total dedication to his family, but what it doesn’t tell you, is the way he embellished his career as a well-respected athlete in his native town.
Said Manny Rego, current owner of Van’s Spa and his close friend of 75 years, “Ray was one of the greatest people I knew. He and I understood each other. We never argued about anything. We were like family.”
Manny Rego’s parents and Ray’s parents were close friends throughout their lifetime. They even lived in the same house for a number of years. It was that special bond which Manny and Ray fed off of as the years went by.
A 1961 graduate of the former Colt Memorial High School, Ray Brum loved sports, so much so that he, Manny Rego, and the late Anthony “Ag” Agatiello Jr. all ventured to Boston’s Fenway Park for the 1975 World Series, an event which each of them held dearly in their sports memory bank.
“Ray, me, and Aggie were always together” said Manny, “and that ’75 World Series 7th game held special meaning for the three of us forever.”
As an athlete, Ray Brum was as competitive as one could imagine. He hated losing, as most of his teammates did during those golden years of sports on the Bristol Town Common. And, the same held true on the Town Common basketball court, where Ray flourished as a solid scorer and rebounder. He was even a commissioner of the Bristol Recreation Softball League, and a better-than-average umpire.
John “Kool Kat” Amaral was another of Ray Brum’s biggest fans.
“Ray was all business when he played in the softball league,” remembers the Kat, a standout pitcher himself during his heyday. “He always made his point clear if an argument arose, but once the game ended, he was as cordial as they came. He will be dearly missed.”
Former Bristol Recreation Dept. Director Richard J. Travers had this to say about his old friend: “Ray was well respected as a ballplayer. We played semi-pro in softball in Fall River against great teams such as Falstaff and the King and his Court. Ray was tough between the base lines but a soft spoken and generous, good guy outside the lines. Ray was a good family man, served his country, and a good friend.”
Admittedly, the best thing that ever happened to Ray was meeting and falling in love with his future wife, Maryann. Together, they had two wonderful children, Scott and Mia, followed by the birth of several grandchildren, each of whom held a special place in Ray’s heart.
John Paul Medeiros, another former star athlete from Bristol who excelled on the softball diamond, added his feelings via Facebook on Ray’s passing.
He said: “I played fast-pitch softball with Ray on Tweet's Cafe in 1968-69. He was the best umpire in our softball league from the Town Common to the new complex at the Town Beach, and when I pitched, we always had the best heated debates about the game, but when it was over, we were always on good terms. That's the kind of competitor Ray was too. His children, Scott and Mia, were also students of mine at St. Elizabeth’s School and i send my deepest condolences to them and Maryann.”
Sitting leisurely at the counter in his restaurant on Wood Street, Manny Rego had this to say in conclusion: “You know, when I sit here and think about my life and the good times I shared with Ray, there really was no comparisons,” he said. “He was like the brother I never had, and for that I am eternally grateful.”
In the final analysis, Ray was the kind of guy you wanted for a friend, plain and simple. That wide smile of his was the clincher. He will be terribly missed.