It is with great sadness that we announce the passing this week of Ray Eckart, California's District Coordinator. Ray died at age 58 from the combined effects of diabetes and cancer. His family's wish for a swift and peaceful passing was answered in part because he knew "his boy" Kai would be cared for by the BRAT family.
Ray had owned Basenjis since 1981 and had been a devoted BRAT volunteer since 2001. During the 11 years he worked with BRAT, Ray helped countless dogs find their way to forever homes. He supported both the dogs and his fellow volunteers, always working with enthusiasm, kindness, and care. Those who worked closely with Ray enjoyed his calm and even-tempered manner, exhibited even in difficult rescue situations.
I can't imagine a more cool-headed guy when working with very difficult humans. Ray and I saw the humor (occasionally dark) in even the most dramatic or frustrating situations with the most uncooperative people. Through example, he inspired me to be a nicer person in these scenarios, and taught me how to handle emotion-charged rescue situations.
Ray had his priorities straight; always at the top of the list was what was best for the dogs in his charge. And it's true, as people have said, that he just wouldn't give up on a dog. Dedication could have been his middle name.
Another quality I admired in Ray is that he wasn't afraid to ask for opinions and get a second set of eyes on a situation. There were times when he would call or e-mail me and ask, "What do you think?”"
In the last few days, Ray's death has inspired many BRAT adopters to write expressing condolences, appreciation, and admiration for his knowledge, professionalism, and compassion during the sometimes stressful adoption process.
Ray was an exemplary volunteer, a good friend to many, and a great asset to BRAT. He will be greatly missed.
Jackie Kuhwarth, BRAT California