A Tribute to Ray Price
(October 20, 1933 -
March 17, 2008)
As COPDers, we have been blessed by having help, support and guidance from
some very remarkable people. Many of these have left a lasting impression
through their dedication to the COPD Community.
Ray Price exemplified this in his active years. Beginning with his membership in
COPD-Support.com in the late 1990's, he educated himself on COPD, then stepped
forward to help others. There at COPD-Support.com he worked tirelessly for the
COPD patient and family. Starting with email list moderation, Ray served in many
capacities, including Presidency of COPD Support.
In 2002, believing there was an opportunity to provide even greater support,
Ray, along with 6 other active COPD Patients, founded COPD-International. There
he helped form many of the early programs and policies that are still in effect
today and served in many capacities including Chairman of the Association.
In spite of more than 50 years of smoking which robbed him of his lung
capacity and eventually of much of his mobility, Ray continued to educate people on
not smoking and on COPD. After a major bout with pneumonia in late 2004, he was
only able to walk a few feet at a time.
Even then, when his health allowed, Ray used to use the visual impact of his
personal story and physical deterioration to educate young people on the risks of smoking. In
an interview with Candace Chase of the Daily Inter Lake paper, he described his
visits to his local Junior high school as follows:
"I pull into the parking lot and the principal comes out with a wheelchair and
wheels me into the classroom," he said. "My oxygen tank is with me so they see
Once in the classroom, he told the students about the impact smoking has had on
his life. "I tell them if your parents smoke, they're dumping that smoke down
your lungs so you best get on their back to quit smoking," Price said.
Ray spent a lot of time studying the latest research on tobacco including the
impact of secondhand smoke. A member of Tobacco Free Flathead, he used his
citizen power to lobby for tobacco control measures before the legislature.
Those of us who knew Ray can verify - He never pulled any punches.
Even after COPD had taken it toll on Ray, preventing him for such pleasures as
golf, fishing and even walking any distance, Ray's drive to help others
continued. In addition to his work with COPD patients, on the first and third
Tuesdays of each month, he and his wife Helen could be found managing the Martin
City food bank.
During his last few years, Ray became increasingly active with his local All
Saints Episcopal Church, as a communicant, Eucharistic Visitor, a member of the
Altar Guild, and a member of the Vestry. One of his joys was to participate in
the church retreats at St. John's Abbey in Minnesota. As an Eucharistic
Minister, Ray would take Holy Communion to shut-ins in the Whitefish area. As
Father Bradley of the All Saint's Episcopal Church said, "often in bad weather,
the only person on the road would be Ray", on his mission to reach those who
could not get to church. All this in spite of his own difficulty caused by his
COPD. He went on to describe Ray as a most kind, gentle, well read and
articulate man who quietly kept everyone on the straight and narrow on issues
pertaining to the handicapped and disabled.
Ray passed away of natural causes on March 17, 2008, at North Valley Hospital in
Ray's philosophy was that we have so much to be thankful for, in spite of our
illness. He certainly left a lasting impact on all our lives, through all that
he left behind. Even greater though, is the impact he left far beyond our COPD
His work will live on in so many different ways - carried on by others who have
been touched by this remarkable man's determination to prevent COPD from
dominating him and by his kindness, cheer, dedication and enthusiasm.