Remembering Ray: Our Virtual Altar

Page Four


This "virtual" altar is a place where everyone who was touched by Ray to express and share their feelings for this remarkable man. Send your words, photos or art (in digital form only please) to Remembering Ray. Please be succinct with your offerings and we will let this space grow into a beautiful and everlasting memorial.



i just heard the news about Ray's passing... so soon after our brother Yedi (July 07) who is the one who introduced us. I know they are together now in spirit and I'm grateful for that.
many blessings to all the family and the horses.
love always,



Ray, I did'nt know you well but know you, like everything, well
enough. I appreciate standing shoulder to shoulder, wathching the

My children often ask me what my favorite animal is. I couldn't
sincerely say there was any one thing until our time at Ekone.

I appreciate your legacy and the strength with which you applied
yourself to the universe. I saw in your eyes a sense of urgency that,
ultimately, we all feel but rarely act upon.

Spending what small portion of time with you was enough. Thank you,
be well, and know that you are carried forth in the lives and
memories of everything you touched.

Dave Edgar, father of Olin and Greta
Ekone parent chaperone!



I'm not going to write now about what a great guy Ray was. Others in these pages have handled that labor of love much more eloquently than I would be able to. I'm just going to tell the tale here of a few of the incidents that are a little known part of Ekone history. These are incidents that not only had significant bearing on what Ekone has become today, but they also shed light on some of Ray's admirable qualities, his practicality and open-mindedness and willingness to forge new mental architecture that would allow his vision for Ekone to evolve into what it has become today.

I met Ray sometime in the mid-90's when my daughter attended camp for the first time. I decided I wanted to hang out as well, and although at that time Ray and Chris had not been in the habit of having parents hang around during camps, for some reason they let me stay. As it turns out, Ray and I did a lot of talking that week and found that our vision of how the world is and how we would like it to be were very similar.

At the time, timber prices were spiking to all-time highs, and timber companies were approaching many of Ray's neighbors with offers to buy all the timber on their parcels at handsome prices. Ray and Chris were horrified at the notion that big patches of the land on the borders of Ekone, which was then only about 400 acres in size, would soon be reduced to stumps, skid trails and slash piles. Because there was no mistaking the fact that if Ray's neighbors were to sell, clear cutting was going to be the order of the day. No sizable trees would be left behind.

At the time, Ray's thinking about how to interact with the land, how to manage, how to be a good steward, amounted to what I must lovingly call noble hippie thinking. He didn't want to harm a sacred limb on a single sacred tree. And I couldn't disagree in principle, except that in the situation we were faced with, it just wasn't going to work.

So we put our heads together and worked out a plan to buy a couple of parcels that were up for sale, hire a conscientious logger who would do the work with minimum impact to the land (Monty), and selectively thin the forest on those new parcels along with the forest on the land Ekone already owned. Then the money from the selective logging would be used to buy more parcels, and so on and so on, in a kind of domino effect. Well, the plan worked, and we even employed it once again, with a few wrinkles, in the most recent acquisition of 80 acres in late 2006.

Through this process, Ray changed his whole way of looking at the land and what it meant to be a steward. He used the resources of the land he had to protect additional land, and in the process, he learned to actually improve the health of the forest that he had already been called to protect.

In recent years many of you know that if you expressed an interest, or sometimes even if you didn't, Ray took great pleasure in riding out across Ekone and pointing out the places that had been thinned and the improvements that had been made, and talking about his plans for the future. Along with the help of Liz and others, he developed a working knowledge of government timber and conservation programs and the ins and outs of selling timber. That's right, Ekone, hop pole source for the Yakima Valley.

He had plans to continue this work and to utilize the resources on Ekone to expand his vision of creating a beautiful, sacred and healthy forest for all to enjoy.

It is my hope that those who take up the project of expanding Ray's vision will learn from his ingenuity, creativity and willingness to change in order to bring his vision into the beautiful reality that Ekone is today. Bravo to Ray for all that he has accomplished, with the help of so many, and may the work continue. There's a lot more of our Earth to protect and nurture.

Jeff Sher



Our Ray

Brash self-confidence….
fine tuned, pure, with understated humility….
Magnificent strength….
stacked up next to gentleness and compassion
My but you were handsome !
……. And you always made so many of us feel beautiful.

Smile wrinkles and eye twinkles
You were the man who carried foals in tanned arms…
The fellow who could get away with a cowboy shirt made of weathered happy skin

You worked the land and you worked it for us all.
You automatically calculated the value of things, tending to give the benefit of a doubt.
Your heart, so wide open, brought dreams to fruition and then you shared and shared.
For you, remuneration was inevitable, because what you gave was freely given.

Oh how you valued love.
Looked like to me that the rest was all for the purpose of spreading it around.
It seems to me that your home and life’s work were created in order to
 encourage others to love and value themselves, each other, animals, and nature.

Your maturity was hard won and thorough.
You taught your own “self ” self-respect and then dared to create a way to pass that along to young people.
Through and through I came to see that you had fully become YOU.

To lose you now is a burden that I shall have to adjust to gradually.
When I feel freed from this sorrow at last
I will sing for you again.

I’m sending love out to each and every one of the dear ones
whose hearts you touched..
I’m just so glad that I got to be one of ‘em.




Defying Gravity

Laughter defies gravity.

Gravity implies seriousness, weight, and substance,

while laughter is the essence of light and spirit.

Ray is.

As Ray is still within us now.

Ray is the ultimate high wire act,

defying gravity and the norms,

while laughing in the face of danger.

I feel his laughter and love now

encompassing me permanently.

Loving thoughts, kind words,

and laughter escaping gravity,

and reverberating

throughout the universe,




Random whimsy.

That delightful spontaneity.

That, is the lifeblood of the danger brothers.

Laughter in defiance

of convention and proper behavior,

we flaunt our outrageousness

in the face of conventional expectation.

Yes, we are the danger brothers.

Brothers and sisters,

Eternal, without borders.


Stan Swanson



Rays Passing

This is the story of my experience of telling my little daughter, Katyrose, that her most favorite horse teacher, her dear friend, Ray was gone. I dreaded telling her. I had given her three days to adjust to the possibility before I actually told her ; when push came to shove, there was no way of getting around the shock of it.

At first she cried and wailed for about a half an hour. She just couldn’t believe it or accept it. Then she took a deep breath, sat up in my lap, looked into my eyes and said " Oh Mommy, you must be hurting SO much ! What can I do to make you feel better?" Without waiting for a reply she got up, fetched me a pillow, a blanket, and a hot water bottle. She brought a foot stool, a bowl of hot water and a wash cloth to my rocking chair and took off my socks. She washed my feet with hot water and then massaged them. This is my eight year old daughter.........

Then she and my husband Peter brought me a hot bowl of potato leek soup and a salad. We watched Americas Funniest Home Videos together and howled with our little home on Whidbey Island, on some gentle simple level, our life resumed with a measure of normalcy.





I remember
that late afternoon
there was snow and ice
on the ground, and it was cold.

We went out anyway,
picked you up in all our arms
and for a long while held you there,
as would a mother in her great love
for her only, favored son.

You folded your arms in,
crossed your hands over your heart,
drew a long, deep breath
and closed your eyes.

I knew then
as I know now,
you would have peace, my brother.

-Judy Todd December 2007



Dearest Family ~ I continue to process and let go of all past life karma with Ray. . .my/our beloved brother and soul companion. . . one of my Spiritual Sufi teachers (Moindeein Jablonski) had once said about death and buriel:

"The buriel of the body symbolizes the planting of a seed. Nourished by the love and prayers of family and friends, the atmosphere becomes fragrant with memories of times shared with the loved one on earth. The buriel site takes on a life of its own, inspiring our deep wish for the growth of the soul in its onward journey."

When I read this, I immediately thought of Ray and felt so comforted to know that he has transended into the light and spirit world and there is no physical seperation anymore. . .I look forward to being at Ekone in April to share in this special and sacred time together. . .for Ray and for Ekone and a farewell for us all with so many beautiful memories we all have had with Raymond/Simeon/Blackey Diamond/Soaring Heart and all that he is and was!




Dear Ekone Friends and Ray,

This was my niece Kortney's first summer at Ekone. My husband Rod and I made a wonderful connection with Ray, the staff, and all of the campers through our drum last summer. I was honored to help with the ceremony when Troubador died. Here is what one short stay at Ekone meant to a first-year camper and her younger sister. We look forward to helping Ray's vision continue for future generations.

Linda Neale

When I was at Ekone camp...I felt like I was in a magical place where it was my dream. One time when I was going to the kitchen [to do my job] I heard a rattlesnake in the tall grass I ran to the kitchen, I told my friends and they said Ray was trying to get it. Then I thought that Ray is a GREAT person because he has helped me with learning the names of the horses, telling me to say stop which is hoe, and he was proud of me to let Cona,[ my best horse friend,] trot for his first time at the last day of the end of the week. Kortney Neale 4th grade I hope there is a next year cas my drems were to go to Ekone camp and I wish you didit die

love madeline Grade 2



Ray was and will always remain one of my favorite people in the entire world and beyond. When I was younger and first came to Ekone, I was nervous beyond belief! When my parents left i was crying, but Ray doesn't like when people are sad and of course comforted me. Seven days later, which turned out to be seven of the best of my life, I went home. The tears that i had cried a week earlier were nothing to the ones i cried as we drove up the winding path back home. As each year would pass, my excitement would start to mount, until finally I could go back. At Ekone, I have made friends for life, and not all of them are two legged! I will never forget how Ray would always encourage me, always have confidence in me, even when I didn't have any in myself. I never would have had the confidence to lope the barrels without his kind words, wink, and smile. Ray will always be in my heart, as will all of of Ekone! He, along with everyone else, made Ekone my favorite place in the entire world! I will never ever forget Ray, for he is one of the most amazing people ever! I love you, Ray, and I hope you find peace in the next world.

~Maggie McCulloch, Hood River, Or~



One of the first songs I ever wrote was at Ekone the winter of 78-79, "Song of the Nations" was inspired by the energy of the Ranch.

Free download available at blessings, white mouse Song of the Nations © Allan Byer aka White Mouse 8/01/78. Here are the lyrics.

Progression: (Am Em) 2 2 3 (G D Am) 2 3

Verse 1 I was a Lakota warrior of the great Sioux tribe. We had many warriors. How we loved to hunt and ride. Eagle-feathered shields at our side. Painted ponies we did ride. (We did ride…)

I was a brother to Geronimo, fought beside Cochise. Rode into the painted hills with Crazy Horse as my chief. Fought for honor and belief. And oh he was a good chief. (A good chief…)

Verse 2 I was a scout for the cavalry, led them to the Indian camps. Watched the soldiers rape and murder, pools of blood in the sand. Scalped them all with white hands. Too much blood on my hands. (On my hands…)

Took a Pawnee woman. I would hunt. She would tan Skins for all my brothers’ lodges. I lived well with my band. Until you came for the land. Then I died by your hand. (By your hand…)

Verse 3 I watched the great White invasion. Saw you desecrate the plains. Killed buffalo for their tongues and hides, left the rotting remains. Wasted flesh on the plains. You must have been insane. (You’re insane…)

I was a brother to the White Man, taught him how to survive. But he lost respect for my lessons, left me alone to die. Spirit no more to fly. All I can do is cry. (Hear me crying…)

Verse 4 I am a Ghost Dancer of the People. I believe the time has come. Buffalo and Eagle Nations will again sound the drum. Hearts are strong and not numb. We’ll again sound the drum. (Again sound the drum…)

And I say to all you People, “Please, it’s not too late.” Rise and join together. Peace is our only escape. Love again and relate. In truth, you do not hate. (You don’t hate now…) 3 X

Coda: Peace is our only escape. Live again and Relate. Peace is our only Escape. Escape now. Escape now. Escape…




Sparkling eyes
Cherry red cheeks
Beaming smile
That’s my Pa
Tanned skin
Powerful body
Dusty clothes
That’s my Pa
Wild man
That’s my Pa
That’s my Pa
That’s my Pa

He lived fully
And died suddenly
He will always be missed
That’s my Pa

~Vibrance, Spring ‘08


Powerful visionary
You fought for your dreams
You made them a reality
Ekone –Land of the Good Spirit
a place of loving community
Sacred Earth Foundation
protection for the land you love
White Eagle Vision Expeditions
a business of blessing children
As you said time and again,
“It’s a dirty, dusty job,
but somebody’s got to do it.”
With an unwavering determination,
you tirelessly did it
And now we must carry it on
We must keep your vision alive
We thank you
for how you blessed our lives
We send blessings to your spirit

~Vibrance, Spring ‘08




While I was reading what everyone had to say about Ray, I had a tear in my eye... actually many tears. I had actually talked to Ray's brother about a week ago and he told me what happened. I was surprised to hear of such an influential man go. The worst part was that my family and I were discussing visiting the camp again, just so we could see Ray. All I can really say about Ray is that he made my Ekone experience so much more fun. I remember the last time we rode the horses around the barrels. He was riding Sacred Drummer and something spooked her and she reared. Ray fell off, but was thankfully okay. He got her calmed down and got right back on! I thought that was the craziest thing ever. Then there was when he was teaching me how to trot and lope. Even when I couldn't do it, he kept encouraging me and encouraging me, It made me feel excited, like I was finally getting it right. He made me feel really special, the way he was asking me if I was going to come to the camp next year and telling me I was a natural. I just still can't believe he is gone. I seriously can't stop crying right now. My deepest regards to everyone, and I mean everyone.

~~Kjatosia Ruvalcaba (2005 Camper)



Aloha Beloved Family ~ Tonight Daisy and I were remembering some deep memories about Ray and our many years at Ekone. . .we were thinking of the times riding horses out to the canyon all singing songs, like some of Alices songs and Ray picking his chew oak sticks and what deep rememberances we have of these deep memories and experiences. I have had dreams this summer of Ray and wake up feeling so sad and heaviness in my heart he is not with us anymore. . .although, I feel him inside my soul and I still have a hard time really realizing that he is not with us anymore. . . .I am so sorry I was not able to be back at Ekone to share in the life and family there for all these last years. . . .today I was remembering some of the things he taught me, which has helped me be today what I am. . .some of what I was remembering was the simple things, like kicking horse poop so it would spread and dry and compost down to fertilize the earth and when we would do wilderness pack trips (which was one of our greatest passions and joys) how to keep a clean camp and walk light and simply upon our Earth. This, being an Earth Steward myself, I had learned alot from my dear partner, friend and beloved Ray. . . .I miss you Ray and will love you forever and for all eternity. . .I will see you in the next life and world. Your bright spirit continues to shine upon us all and we miss you so much! With Love Forever, Christina
p.s. I feel you and Auzzie are riding together upon the clouds and the HORSE HEAVEN HILLS above us all. . .WE MISS YOU AND LOVE YOU SO DEARLY!

Daisy and Matt Thomas







Share your own message to Ray by emailing it here.