The Boston Herald, By Joe Fitzgerald
The extensive coverage of Ray Tye’s death was not only richly deserved, but richly ironic, too, since he was careful not to exalt himself while funneling millions of dollars to people and causes that touched his heart.
Over the years, on so many occasions, he would call here after reading about someone in distress and quietly arrange to provide urgently needed relief.
Readers never knew he did it, and usually the recipients didn’t know either, because that’s how real charity works; it doesn’t take bows or issue press releases.
Ray, who died last week at 87, made his fortune building United Liquors into a wholesaling empire. He fully understood the joy of giving, but also understood the real reward for doing good was simply to have known he did it. Doing a column on it would have spoiled it for him . Indeed, sometimes the best stories are the ones you can’t write.
So you didn’t read about the first generation American tycoon who called the Salvation Army every year to ask if its Christmas kettle drive needed his help to reach its goal. And you didn’t read about the sports enthusiast who provided uniforms for the squad of inner-city cheerleaders whose personal lives had been ravaged by dysfunctional adults. Make no mistake, though self-styled celebrities get most of the attention in this town, there are towering examples of integrity, too, operating in the shadows of the limelight. More than anyone, Ray Tye personified anonymous generosity.
Those who knew what Ray was like will celebrate his deeds today at his funeral. Faith has many expressions, and the lyrics of an old spiritual would surely be right at home in that synagogue this morning: If I can help somebody as I pass along … then my living will not be in vain.
Goodbye good friend, and God bless.