Ray Warner, one of Williamstown's most ardent and active public citizens during three dacades of residence in the Village Beautiful after retiring from The New York Times copydesk, died peacefully on March 21 at age 89, his wife, Barbara, reported in an email to friends. The Warners had moved several years ago to Albany.
Warner was an active Democratic Party member, supporting in 2006 the run of former state Rep. Christopher Hodgkins for state Senate. In 2005, he sponsored and championed a non-binding resolution approved at the Williamstown town meeting condemning the USA Patriot Act on civil-liberties grounds and directing the town's police not to actively pursue spying on citizens. And earlier, Warner champion a town ordinance which banned smoking in public places on public-health grounds.
In early March, Barbara and Ray took a trip to New York City to celebrate 63 years of marriage and 65 years since they first met at Ursinus College. They went to concerts, saw "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and the Metropolitan Museum -- with Ray in a wheelchair, enjoying a twilight ride up the Hudson River on the Amtrak train to Albany. "A few people I know think this is a trip for sleeping," Ray wrote to his family a couple of weeks ago. "But that is rediculous!"
Barbara said that Ray asked that there be no public service with his passing but the family will gather soon to listen to his favorite jazz music and a symphony, Mahler's Symphony No. 1, "The Titan." Family members will share reflections. Donations in memory might appropriately be made to the American Civil Liberties Union or Habitat for Humanity, she said. The couple's four children are in Enfield, Conn., Northampton, Mass., Oak Park, Ill., and Seattle.
In her email, Barbara Warner wrote:
To old and dear friends,
Our family wants to let you know of the unexpected death of Ray. Ray died peacefully in his sleep March 21st. He had been in failing health for the last several years but died just as he always hoped, suffering no lasting undue pain, but the general diminishment of quality of life that came with his 89 years (March 5th). We will all miss him and be grateful for the happy lives we shared together for 65 years.
With fond memories,
Barbara and the Warner family.