Ray Crothers, 1942-2008

Debbie learned at the Shenipsit Striders meeting today, that Ray Crothers had passed away while we were in Australia. We knew that he was not well and we heard that it was likely that cancer had done a job on the body of a true running champion. We last saw Ray at the pre-race dinner the night before the Manchester Road Race last November. He seemed weak and said he was not feeling well. Still, he smiled brightly. We used to see Ray at local races and of course at The Run In, the Rocky Hill, Connecticut running store that he owned/managed with John Vitale.  In recent years, Debbie (and Shep and I) frequently saw him riding his bicycle on the Rail Trail. He ran less and rode a lot more. Sadly, it seems as if the cancer diagnosis was missed and it was too late.

My memories of Ray date back 23 years. I was just a kid looking for my first pair of running shoes after joining the cross country team at Vernon Center Middle School. My grandfather took me to The Run In and Ray fit me with a pair of Tigers. They weren’t even called Asics in those days! Periodic trips to the store with my grandfather were a joy for all three of us. Ray was always interested in what my grandfather had to say and he was always interested in my grandfather’s latest prosthesis (he was a below the knee amputee). Since my grandfather died in 1998, whenever I saw Ray, I would think of Gramps. Ray was an awesome runner and he is known especially for his multi-division triumphs at the Manchester Road Race. I’m sure that his service in Vietnam had an impact on his life and values and I know that his love of running, health, and fitness influenced many others. I’ll be thinking of Ray often, especially when I line up at Manchester once again, later this year.

Ray’s obituary

A remembrance by Amby Burfoot

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