Raymond R. Rivers, 80, of North Syracuse passed away Monday, September 13, 2021. Ray was born on July 24, 1941 in Washington, DC to Ralph and Mary (Roberts) Rivers. The family moved to Lyncourt in 1945. Ray graduated from St. John the Evangelist High School in 1959. He joined the National Guard in 1963 and proudly served for six years. On October 8, 1966 he married Jean VanSanford of East Syracuse. He went on to earn his B.S. in Education from Syracuse University and worked in the Liverpool Central School District for three years as a speech therapist. Ray was employed by Niagara Mohawk for 36 years, retiring in 1999. His primary duties were working as a relay tester at various sub-stations in the region and as a technician at Nine Mile nuclear plant in Oswego. Ray had a strong reputation amongst his peers as a conscientious, yet quick-witted colleague and he cherished the many friends he made along the way.
In his early years, Ray was a passionate athlete who focused on baseball. During this time, he developed relationships with what would become a tremendous group of life-long friends. Many of them later enjoyed playing fast-pitch softball for their sponsor the Lyncourt Grille, getting together for a game of cards or just talking sports. Ray was a fan of SU football and basketball. He also enjoyed following Major League Baseball, rooting for the Red Sox, Phillies and Pirates, and always against the Yankees.
Ray continued his legacy on the field as a Little League coach and slow-pitch softball umpire. His Little League teams took first place every year but one. During his many years as an umpire, the players knew that he was the one in charge, not them. To say he was feared as much as respected is not an exaggeration.
Ray and his family took frequent trips to the Adirondacks, coastal Maine, and many parts of Florida. The annual trip to Ocean City, NJ with their closest friends, the Kelty family, was the highlight of each summer. In his later years, Ray and Jean visited many U.S. National Parks and multiple European countries. For nearly 20 winters they very much enjoyed living on Sanibel Island, FL. The rest of the time, Ray took every opportunity to travel, dine out, attend sporting events and play golf with his grandkids.
Ray is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Jean (VanSanford) Rivers, their sons Bradley (Stacy) of East Syracuse and Brian (Lisa) of Machesney Park, IL, as well as grandchildren Katherine, Daniel and David Rivers of East Syracuse, Marissa and Makaela Warne, of Janesville, WI and DeKalb, IL, respectively. Ray is also survived by brothers Roy (Nancy) of Benedicta, ME, Ralph Jr. of East Syracuse, Richard (Linda) of Fairport, R. James (Donna) of Clay, brother-in-law James (Eileen) VanSanford of Leesburg, FL, and several nieces and nephews. Ray was predeceased by their son Bret in 2009.
Family and friends are invited to call on Tuesday, September 21st from 4PM to 7PM at New Comer Funeral Home, 705 N. Main St., Syracuse, NY 13212.
To share a memory of Raymond with the family, please click on Share Memories Button above.