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August 19, 1934
January 10, 2013
Resident of El Sobrante
Ray Cortez, 78, of El Sobrante passed away on January 10, 2013, surrounded by loving family and friends.
Ray was born in a boxcar in an apricot orchard in Redbanks, CA. The family moved to Richmond when Ray was 4 years old. He grew up on 3rd Street in Richmond and attended Peres Elementary, Harry Ells Jr. High, Richmond High School, and Contra Costa College.
Ray joined the United States Army in 1957 and proudly served with the paratroopers. Upon his return from service, Ray married the love of his life, his wife, Joan, of 58 years.
Ray started work at US Peroxygen/Witco Chemical in Richmond in 1959 as a basic controls operator. His outstanding work ethic, drive for knowledge, and attention to detail saw him rise through the ranks from supervisor to Plant Manager. After his retirement from Witco Chemical in 1992, Ray became an independent Environmental Consultant where he traveled to Mexico City, Brazil, Ecuador, and Italy to perform audits and plant inspections.
Fitness, language, and teaching were the true passions in Ray's life. For 20 years Ray could be seen running or cycling on the Dam Road every day after work. He spent his Winter weekends and vacations in Tahoe smashing the bumps at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort. Often Ray would stop and spend an afternoon teaching beginners who were struggling. He even got his instructor certificate. In 2008 he took a hard crash and broke his neck on the last run of the day. He spent a year and a half recovering but hit the slopes again, this time taking his grandson with him. He was a member of the Berkeley Ski Club Ray loved languages. He was bilingual in Spanish and English and loved to study French, Italian, and Portuguese as well. Most nights he could be found sitting at the kitchen table with several dictionaries open writing notes on long yellow legal pads. He loved jazz music.
Ray is survived by his wife, Joan, son, Gino, daughter Catherine, brother, Reynaldo, and grandchildren, Alba, Ian, Devin, and Dylan. We will invite family and friends to share in a celebration of a life well lived when the time is right.
Published in Contra Costa Times on Jan. 20, 2013