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Ray Matthis Oil on canvas (12 x 16″)

This is a portrait I just completed of Ray Matthis, the father of my dear sister-in-law Deanna Mandish. Ray passed away in June of 2008. I worked from some photos I took of Ray on Easter, 2008, 3 months before his death. He was one of the few human beings I’ve ever met that I would characterize as “Golden”, a man with a heart of gold and a bottomless wellspring of generosity. People witnessed to his generous spirit at his memorial service, some of them strangers to the family, recounted acts of kindness the family itself had no knowledge of as Ray had not seen fit to take credit. Below is an excerpt from Deanna’s eulogy to her father, Ray.

“…His unconditional love for those of us who were fortunate enough to know and love him, and know with certainty how much he loved us, was unwavering. His generosity was unparalleled. We are quite certain that we will never know all the good deeds he did, all the checks he wrote for someone less fortunate, the pies he baked, the errands he ran, the help he offered, the quiet acts of service, the many kindnesses he extended. He was not perfect. On rare occasions he was grumpy and short tempered, but, his character was steadfast. He was quick to say “I love you” and just as quick to say, “I’m sorry” when he was wrong. His heart was soft as butter…tears sprang to his eyes easily and pride in those he loved was enormous. He was easily touched by simple acts of kindness and his wobbly chin was well known to his family and those closest to him. He was a strong, manly man with a work ethic rarely seen in our world today, but, he was also gentle and not afraid to be silly and to laugh with glee. He loved babies and roses and wood working and his tomatoes. But–most of all, he loved his family and all of us who are gathered here today to love him right back. He was faithful to his commitments, to his family, his church and his friends. If he made a promise, he kept it. He touched others deeply, whether the people he sat with at church or his favorite waitress, Angela, at the Early Bird Cafe. He had faith and he knew where his next stop would be. If he could speak to us today, he’d tell you “it’s all true!” and he’d tell us to meet him on the other side. Because, just as you loved him, he loved you, too. “The gift of God is eternal life.” Say yes to the gift. Be there. He’ll be there to welcome you just inside the gate.”


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