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Raymond F. Ashley

(Courier News)

Raymond F. Ashley, 41, passed away on Thursday evening, May 28, 2009, at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville. Born in Plainfield, NJ, Ray resided in South Plainfield through high school and had been living in Pennington. He was a 1985 graduate of St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, earned a BS in Chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and a masters in Environmental Science from NJIT. Ray was a compassionate and caring young man who had numerous interests. He participated in the ROTC program and served in the US Navy aboard the destroyer escort USS Pharris. In addition, he enjoyed running, homebrewing, volunteered in teaching English as a second language, spoke Russian, and was an avid Mets fan. Ray was a Senior Research Chemist working for Church & Dwight in Princeton, NJ, for the last sixteen years. He was a longtime member of the American Oil Chemists Society, the American Chemical Society, and liaison to the Textile Research Institute. Ray contributed to a broad range of intellectual property, was an outstanding formulating chemist, and developed a range of unique and creative industrial and consumer products. Ray had a passion for music and, in many ways, it defined him. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of classical composers, particularly Russian, a deep understanding of folk music, and a highly developed grasp of modern and traditional harmony. Ray loved his rock and roll too. This evidenced itself in his approach to performing, improvising, and in his desire for life at its fullest. A multi-instrumentalist of tremendous skill, Ray mastered numerous instruments including bass, guitar, piano, mbira, and Warr guitar. In recent years he focused his composing and performing efforts on the accordion. Ray wrote beautiful, quirky music, unencumbered by any constraint other than his imagination. This is how his family and friends will remember him best.
His mother, Virginia M. (McCluskey), died in September of 2003. Surviving are his father, Francis R. Ashley; sister, Sarah Brake and her husband Patrick of Hillsborough; sister, Mary Jane Zajac and her husband Trevor of Ulster Park, NY; brother, Mark F. Ashley and his wife Tracy of Fort Myers, FL; and a host of nieces, nephews, and extended family members.
A funeral mass will be offered at 10 AM on Thursday, June 4, 2009, at Sacred Heart RC Church, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Interment will follow at Holy Redeemer Cemetery, South Plainfield, NJ. Family and friends may attend the visitation on Wednesday, June 3, 2009, from 2-4 & 7-9 PM at the McCriskin - Gustafson Home For Funerals, 2425 Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. For more information, please visit ( In lieu of flowers, donations in Ray's memory may be directed toward Sarcoma Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, PO Box 27106, New York, NY, 10087.

Published in Courier News on May 31, 2009
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