Raymond J. Lamont of Gloucester died on June 4, 2020 at the North Shore Medical Center in Salem. He was born and raised in Pittsfield, the only child of the late Raymond P. and Kathleen T. Sheerin Lamont. Ray's formative years at the city's St. Joseph’s grammar and high schools undoubtedly had a deep impact on his life. He continued his education at Berkshire Community College and graduated from North Adams State College, which is now known as Mass. College of Liberal Arts.
Ray began his lifelong career in journalism as a sports writer at the Berkshire Eagle, casting a large presence on the local athletic scene for years to come. An avid sports fan, Ray had also worked as a statistician for minor league baseball teams, including the Pittsfield Rangers and Pittsfield Brewers, at Wahconah Park. Seeking greater professional challenges, Ray surprised sports followers with his transition to news reporting in 1989, and he received a promotion to assistant news editor in 1992. Ray left the Berkshire Eagle in 1995 to become city editor at the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, VA. He continued his rapid ascent in the newspaper ranks with a move to suburban Philadelphia in 1997 for the job of managing editor of the Daily Local News in West Chester and later editor of The Times-Herald in Norristown.
Ray returned to New England in 2000 when he became editor of the Westerly (RI) Sun newspaper, and in 2002, vice president of Sun Publishing Co. Ray's journalistic odyssey shifted back to his home state in 2008 when he joined the Gloucester Daily Times, where he held editing and staff positions until his retirement in December 2019. Ray was a member of the New England Newspaper & Press Association and a past president of the New England Society of News Editors.
Throughout his long career, Ray remained dedicated to local news and cared deeply about the cities and towns where he worked. He became immersed in the fabric of every community where he lived, whether joining the Kiwanis Club and reading the news for the blind at the local NPR station in Virginia, moderating debates and public forums, leading workshops for journalism students at colleges and high schools, or pitching in at the local food pantry and the First R Foundation on Cape Ann.
Ray's many professional achievements included writing awards and state and national journalism honors, including New England Newspaper of the Year awards while he was managing editor at the Gloucester Times.
But Ray's professional accomplishments were largely unknown to his closest friends. In him, they saw the real-life character that should have inspired the television comedy "Everybody Loves Raymond." Ray's mere presence made any room a happier and jollier place for anyone who had the pleasure to share his company.
Ray could twist any lyric to comic effect and rival professionals with his musical impressions, as he discovered in high school while belting out Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual." Mick Jagger could have taken pointers from Ray on the proper way to strut to "Satisfaction." More recently, Ray sang a "spot-on" rendition of Neil Young's "After the Goldrush" when one of his musical heroes, Ani DiFranco, asked if he played music, during a post-concert meeting. Unfortunately, Ray never got to share his talent with his other favorite musician, Leonard Cohen.
An uncanny amount of times, Ray appeared to have a halo of good luck or divine intervention hovering over him. Friends winced as Ray bet $100 on a long shot at Saratoga – only to dine in style less than an hour later on his winnings. Ray's generous intentions knew no bounds, and the retired nuns, the poor, and the disenfranchised were some of the beneficiaries, even when the well was running dry or he was pressed for time.
Ray's personal adventures took him to the top of Australia's giant Ayers Rock monolith – a grueling climb during an especially fit period of his life. His highlight reel would also include a one-on-one encounter as a kid with Ted Williams on a dugout bench at Wahconah Park shortly after the Red Sox legend's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Other memorable trips took Ray to the World Cup soccer tournament, the World Series, the Indy 500, WrestleMania, and the beaches of Normandy, where his father had landed on D-Day. In his last few years, Ray especially enjoyed productions at the Gloucester Stage Company.
Ray requested that his obituary mention his "beloved best friend," Carol Sliwa, and her sister, Susan. Survivors also include several cousins and many friends.
A funeral Mass and celebration of Ray's life will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester, MA. Face masks will be required at the service. Burial will take place at a later date at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield.
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