Ray Brown was the kind of man who was bound to die doing something he loved.

The 66-year-old West Paris man died Friday morning at a Portland hospital, a day after he fell from an overturned sulky at the Oxford County Fairgrounds in Oxford and suffered a head injury.

As his friends and family mourned, they said the same thing: This man who loved everything in his life very deeply died while doing something that brought him great joy.

“It’s tragic,” said Mary Ann Brown, Ray’s wife of 36 years. “But he died happy. He always had a love for horses and horse racing. He absolutely loved it. He talked about it all the time.”

On Thursday afternoon, he was taking a horse around the track and riding in the sulky. “The horse bolted; the sulky tipped over,” his wife said. She couldn’t see him when it happened because there was a banking of dirt blocking the view. But when they saw the horse and sulky coming around and Ray wasn’t on it, they ran to find him, she said.

“He was laying down and trying to get up,” she said.

She surmised that he suffered a massive brain injury.

He was flown to Portland and remained on life support through the night. After meeting with a representative from a donor organization on Friday morning, some of his organs were taken for others, his wife said.

“I was amazed at the number of people waiting for transplants,”she said. “Even in death, he’s still giving.”

A lot of things made Ray Brown happy, including his wife, two stepchildren he brought up as his own, six grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Add to that impressive list golf, smelting, baseball, long car rides and even mowing three acres of lawn even though his home only sat on 2.6 acres.

“He just loved to be outside,” Mary Ann said.

An Army man and a veteran of Vietnam, Brown was a member of veterans groups around the region. He was also a former coach of American Legion baseball.

Mary Ann said her husband once told her that when he was in Vietnam, he dreamed of coming home and taking long rides. When the two married, Mary Ann already had two children, 8 and 10 years old.

“He never used the term “stepchild” the entire time we were growing up,” said Nancy, one of the girls Ray raised as his own. “We were always his children. He was just incredible. He would do anything for anyone.”

News of his death was slow to circulate on Friday. When reached for comment about it, some were stunned.

“I’m shocked,” said Kathy LaPlante, who knew Brown through the Norway-Paris Kiwanis Club. “He was just a really great gentleman.”

“A good all-around guy,” said Robert Sessions, who used to work with Brown in the building supply business.
Jim Alberi knew Ray most of his life, particularly through the Norway-Paris Fish and Game Club. Reached at home Friday night,

Alberi said he had not heard that his friend had died. Like the others, he remembered Ray as a man with many passions.

“He was active in just about everything. He always had something going on,” Alberi said. “He was one of the few people who still liked to go smelting.”

Because of injuries suffered in Vietnam, Ray was not able to do all of the things he enjoyed, including smelting. To get to the good fishing spots, a person has to walk a considerable distance, and Ray’s legs pained him.

“He really had to slow down on some of the things he was doing,” his wife said. “But he was still upbeat. He was a very upbeat person.”

She and her husband would have celebrated their 37th anniversary in August. On Friday night she was with her children and grandchildren, mourning the loss of a man everyone agreed was unique.

“He was one of a kind,” Mary Ann said. “He just had a capacity for love that a lot of people don’t have. He’s going to leave a great hole in this community and in our lives.”

Staff Editor Mary Delamater contributed to this report


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