Dennis Kenneth Raymond, 77, of Hurleyville, New York and the French Quarter, New Orleans, passed away February 1, 2020. The pastor at the first – and only – church Dennis ever joined described his death as lying down to rest and waking up in heaven. Dennis was inspired to join that church – and did so only two weeks before he died- because he felt it was truly open, affirming, welcoming and inclusive of all people of any background.
Dennis was born September 6, 1942 to Aninna D’Angelo in Lockport, NY. His biological father, Samuel Bourne, was killed in WW2 before Dennis’ birth. Determined to give Dennis a good life, Aninna married Moody Raymond, who adopted and loved Dennis as his own. Aninna and Moody went on to have Dick Raymond, Dennis’ brother. Ever a lover of music, Dennis spent his youth building antennas on the roof of his parent’s home and seeking the best jazz music his ears could find. He dreamt of hearing John Coltrane, Miles Davis or even Sun Ra in New Orleans or New York City someday.
Dennis believed in education and knew all people had gifts. He attended Buffalo State College and the New School for Social Research receiving Masters Degrees in both Education and Healthcare Administration. In 1964, he was one of 10 specially selected students to take part in the dual certification program of ’teachers for “Emotionally Disturbed and Socially Maladjusted Children,” which later became known as the first program of its kind for Special Education in New York State.
Teaching special education led to a “meet-cute” with his wife, Evelyn, when he saw her on a stage teaching a group of students in Warwick, NY. He knew he had to meet her, and when he saw her in the teachers’ room a few days later, he seized the opportunity. After several years of “making the world better”, traveling Europe on a motorcycle and “commune-ing as philosophical hippies” together, they married and lovingly welcomed three children: Heather, Jesse and Nathan. From the moment Dennis had children, his primary role became Dad (and husband). All three of his children shine with the light of the love he poured into them as do the many others blessed to call him “Dad”, like his daughter-in-law, Yukiko Ichihara and his son-in-law Dung Joseph Cao; “Grandpa” like Julius, Chloe and Cedrick Ichihara-Raymond and Theodore the Bear Raymond-Cao; and the many significant and cherished friends–who know who they are—and are extended family to him.
Dennis’ educational background also served him in the major part of his career, leading him to move to and raise his family in Sullivan County, NY in order to hold where he held several administrative positions at the Center for Discovery in Harris, New York, a leading center of excellence and provider of education services and new models of care for adults and children with “complex cconditions”.
Dennis loved surrounding himself with the natural beauty of the Catskills. He deeply appreciates his good neighbors and the 30 plus years of memories made and shared in the diverse county.
Retiring in 2011, Dennis was finally able to fulfill his life-long dream of living and loving in New Orleans with Evelyn. These trips started out as a few weeks’ vacation and eventually turned into living there for six months every year, where they deeply established themselves in the music of the city and community culture. It was important to Dennis and Evelyn to give to the city that welcomed them; they could often be seen volunteering at the Jazz Museum, the Jazz National Park, WWOZ and Roots of Music. Other times Dennis could be seen in full bicycle outfit, tearing up the streets on his Cannondale or Gary Fischer; or sitting front row at every musical event he could, eyes closed, finger in the air, punctuating each beat, smile on his face, just feeling the music.
Dennis will be deeply missed and never forgotten. He lives on in the music and the hearts of those blessed to know him.
If you’d like to make donations in Dennis’ name, please make them to The Center for Discovery at P.O. Box 840 Harris, NY 12742; to The Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless PO Box 336 Monticello, New York 12701 or a charity of your choice.
Friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life for Dennis Raymond at 5:30 pm Thursday, February 6th at Central St, Matthew Church 1333 South Carrollton Avenue. His family would love guests to share with his family written memories of, or tributes to, Dennis at that event or after.
If you’d like to make donations in Dennis’ name, please make them to Central St. Matthew church at 1333 South Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118 or to The Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation, offering free and low cost health care to musicians https://neworleansmusiciansclinic.org/ or to a charity of your choice.