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Feb. 21, 1933 - Mar. 28, 2013

The game kicked off on February 21, 1933 in Imperial County, California. During the first quarter, Raymond George Baksh was raised by his father, Ali Baksh, and his mother, Mary Esparza, along with siblings Carrie Almera, Charles Hamblet, Mary Fierro, Albert Baksh, Joseph Baksh, Dolores Espinosa, and Alicia Burks. He attended Imperial High School (where he later was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame) and scored big time in 1953 when he married his high school sweetheart, Virginia Urquid. He tacked on extra points by joining the United States Marine Corps, and after three years in the service, Sarge returned to farming in the Imperial Valley. The game was off to a good start.
In the second quarter, Ray and Virginia moved their four children, Michael, Teresa, Lisa and Amy, to San Diego, and were joined by Cynthia not long after. Ray and Virginia bought Taco Bell franchises and began working in the fast-food industry. He scored again by earning a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education at San Diego State University in 1973, and with a love of football, began a career of coaching at St. Augustine, Helix, and La Jolla High Schools. Coach made friends for life, and the game rolled on. A highlight of the quarter was when he and Virginia bought a rustic cabin out past Ramona, which they named "Rancho Pasa Tiempo." It was a great second quarter.
The third quarter saw Ray enjoying quiet, relaxing time at his ranch. He loved the beauty of nature, plants, animals, and the peaceful outdoors. His team grew in size with the addition of Casey McNeil, Jim Quinn, Mike Page, Sue Pinder and Chris Horsford. He started raising (and spoiling) his grandchildren and growing extended family: Nicole, Kelly, Ali, Timmy, Tommy, Chelsea, Katie, Matt, Kendra and Gio. Country to the core, Ray began to kick back during this period of the game by watching western movies. A cowboy at heart, John Wayne was his favorite actor, but Ray was not an actor; he was the real deal. The game was going comfortably after halftime, and he and his team was cruising along.
It was in the fourth quarter of the game that the other team finally figured out a way to tackle Ray. All the big guns were sent out. The first big blow came in 2006, when his youngest daughter, Amy, was taken from the team. Dazed and broken, he struggled on. Athlete that he was, he twisted, turned, and ran by diabetes. He stiff-armed congestive heart failure in 2010, defying all odds, and kept right on going. Leukemia then grabbed onto his jersey, but still, he wouldn't go down, not to cancer or the dreaded chemotherapy. Despite teetering off-balance, he churned his legs and plowed ahead. Then, the strongest bruiser of all, COPD, completely winded him, but he kept his eye focused on the goal line and slowly pushed on. The blockers at Kaiser did their best and the cheerleaders on the sidelines yelled their loudest, but those big weapons were relentless. Ray Baksh crossed the goal line for that final touchdown and finally went down on March 28, 2013 at Mercy Hospital. The game was over. Ray Baksh was the champion of the game, and for that was called up to join the other stars in heaven.
Services will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at 9:30 am, at St. Patrick's Church in North Park, 3585 30th St. San Diego, CA.

Published in Imperial Valley Press Online on Apr. 4, 2013
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