ONEONTA – Harold Ray, formerly of Oneonta, the inaugural recipient of The Arc Otsego’s Reach for the Stars Award in 2016, formerly of Oneonta, passed away on Jan. 26, 2019, at his nephew’s home in Oxford.
The award honored Harold – known to many as a dapper gentleman, always dressed in his suit and tie – for overcoming obstacles in his life and continuing to strive to help others.
Harold was born on Nov. 6, 1943, in South Brookfield, the youngest of 13 children. He was predeceased by his parents, Myrtle and George Ray and most of his siblings.
Harold faced many challenges in his life such as having polio as an infant, receiving no formal education, and starting to work on his own at age 15. Harold did not let his disabilities and other challenges stop him from being a great friend and an advocate for those who have helped him and lived with him over the years.
He lived many different places in the Mohawk Valley area during his life, including a family-care home, state-operated residences and with many family members. He spent his final years in a home with his friend, Ray Morgan, until moving in with nephew Bill Sabines and his family for the final six months of life.
Harold served as the president of several self-advocacy groups and visited many elected officials to advocate for living wages for those people who have helped him over the years and for supports and services needed for people with disabilities to live happier lives. He was a regular volunteer at Saturday’s Bread and other events that helped others.
He is survived by Bill Sabine and family as well as many nieces and nephews and their families. He is also survived by his friends, Ray Morgan, Ben Vernoy, and Joe Pagillo, a friend and advocate and many others.
A celebration of Harold’s life will be at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at The Arc Otsego Oneonta Day Services building on Lower River Street. All are welcome to attend and share their memories of Harold.
A visitation will follow from 5 to 7 p.m. at the BeHe Funeral Home, 12 Main St., Oxford.