Saturday, February 23, 2013

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

5 comments:

  1. Ray Eckart was a generous person who will be sincerely missed. Condolences to his family.

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  2. Kathy Eckart (sister-in-law)March 1, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Jackie, this is a beautiful tribute to Ray. Thank you so much. BRAT was an important part of Ray's life. We appreciate all the friendships that Ray developed over the years through BRAT, and the focus and purpose the organization gave him, especially when his health became troublesome again.

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  3. Also, Ray enjoyed 15 years of full life after a successful kidney-pancreas transplant in 1997. That was possible thanks to the gift of organ donation made by a young man's family in their hour of sadness. Ray frequently campaigned for Organ Donation Awareness and would be pleased if the people who cared for him would remember to authorize donation for themselves or family members if ever in a similar situation.

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  4. Although I only met Ray once during a basenji transport, I felt I came to know him well over the three or so years we worked on rescues and transports. We worked on a number of "extreme" rescues (including my two who were picked up by animal control in Fairfield where I picked them up at the county animal control) together. In every case, the "extreme" was not the dogs but the humans. Ray managed to help me face these cases calmly, rationally and without judging the humans who were surrendering animals. He always kept focused on what was best for the dog and was great support from afar that helped me keep a cool head in extreme situations and to keep the dogs safe on their way to foster or new forever homes.

    Ray's sense of humor through extreme situations was always helpful as well, and I will miss him a great deal. He leaves an incredible legacy and was such a generous, caring, decent man.

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  5. Ray leaves behind a legacy of good deeds and people who were touched by his kindness and generosity. I never had a chance to meet him, but he did guide me through a couple of sticky rescue situations as well. It was reassuring knowing there was someone like him looking out for the dogs as well as us volunteers. Rest in peace, Ray.

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