Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ray Cooper will be sorely missed

For some reason, Ray Cooper always seemed like he was being asked to walk through life going uphill into a strong headwind.

Things rarely seemed to go easily for him. Sometimes he'd run into obstacles and every once in while he'd drag a few of them into his own path.

But the thing about Ray was that, no matter what, he always kept going. No matter how steep the hill got, no matter how strong the wind blew, he kept getting after it. And most of the time, he did it with a smile on his face.

So early this summer, when he started feeling bad, for a while he just kept plugging. Finally, though, he had to go to the doctor. And the news he got wasn't at all good.

Coop almost always found ways to beat whatever you threw at him. If you sat with him at the poker table, you knew that even if he had nothing in his hand there was a better than fair chance he'd find a way to at least split the pot with the guy who did.

After winning all kinds of awards as a racing writer, he went to work as a manfacturer's public relations rep. That means he'd go to as many drivers and teams with Chevrolet or Dodge -- he worked for both since I met him -- and record what they were saying in interviews. He'd then transcribe that and put it out for the rest of the reporters who might not have been right there at the time.

Sometimes, a driver or crew chief will say something that the people who wrote Coop's paycheck might not have wanted reporters to see. In most instances, though, Ray didn't care.

He felt that it was his job to help people like me do ours, and since he'd done our job before, he knew what we really needed to get from him. So that's what he did, and sometimes that didn't make him the employee of the month. But it made him somebody we could trust and appreciate.

Coop's doctors tried what they could. While all of that was going on, Ray tried to keep working. He came to Bristol, with a lot of effort, just to see everybody because he missed being around us. We sat there that Saturday afternoon and laughed and told stories, and when I walked away it made my heart hurt even more because that's something we'd become accustomed to doing every week with him.

When the doctors said there wasn't a whole lot more they could do, Ray decied that he might as well go on back to work then. And he tried, too. But cancer just doesn't play fair.

Ray died early Saturday. I really can't come up with anything more profound to say about that than it really, truly stinks that he's gone.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I left the Cup traveling circus a few years ago and it's been awhile since I saw Ray Cooper. I didn't even know that he was sick.

But I'll always remember him as one of the good guys out there. He did a great job and had strength of character is a sport where sometimes that is hard to find.

Rest in peace.

Creek said...

When I first stumbled into the world of stock car racing the first friend I made was Ray Cooper. He treated me like I belonged, giving me confidence and support whenever I asked.

It was with Coop's acceptance and support that others accepted me into the fraternity.

Life will never be the same without Ray Cooper.

I love you and will miss you dearly Stanley Ray.

Redvette said...

Behind the success of every person are people who give that little bit extra to help make it happen. Thanks for remembering Ray.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Coop..although I wasn't with the traveling circus long he made me feel like I had always been there...

Anonymous said...

RAY WAS A TRUE FRIEND , TO ME AND MY DAD HE HAD BEAT ME AT MANY FRIENDLY HANDS ,,I ALWAYS GOT EXCITED WHEN THE NMPA CAME TO TOWN.....RAY THE KISER FAMILY WILL MISS U LITTLE KISER

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