barber pole
Ray's ASU Barber Shop

Music Continues, but without
the Leader of the Band
Raymond C. Boles.

With the gracious permission from John MacDonald, columnist for the Arizona Republic, we have borrowed some thoughts from a recent article he wrote about his father.

You were probably asleep and didn't notice the subtle moment the Earth stopped turning. In the late hours of March 16, 2008, for a soft, split second, the world skipped a beat and then marched on.

As the family gathered around Ray during his final hours, childhood stories that captured the idiosyncrasies of the Boles clan filled the room with animation and laughter. The only voice missing was that of Ray, but no doubt his listening spirit was joining in. His last waking moments were listening to his sweetheart of 50 years tell him how much she loved him. He listened, as he always did, sweetly puckered his lips, and gave his wife his famous three-peck act of affection with the smile that lit up his eyes.

Those eyes first opened themselves 82 years ago in the humble home of Charlie and Lilly Boles in Newark, Arkansas. With the outhouse in the backyard, the storm cellar fully equipped, the chickens in the yard and the garden flourishing, his southern roots were steeped in family, agriculture and a strong work ethic.

These were the eyes of a loving brother to his siblings. His brothers and sisters, for the way he supported them always admired Ray: whether they were 10 or 50 years old, he was always there in their time of need. He didn't wait to be asked, he watched and listened, and took the initiative to fill the gap whether it was weeding the garden or helping a friend.

These were the eyes of a man who saw-and served-the patriotic needs of his country. Serving on the shore patrol in the South Pacific, Ray's sense of duty was unquestionable. During his term of service in Guam, his eyes watched the "Japan Occupied" portion of a country that wasn't their own. He faced a fear that was difficult to understand.

These were the eyes of a man who understood beauty and goodness. He was one of the lucky ones who found the love of his life when he met Betty, a love that endured joyously for nearly 50 years. They provided each other with support, passion and companionship in a way few can appreciate. Ray was the right hand and Betty was his left-helping him in every way she could in business and life.

These were the eyes of the best barber in Tempe. His eyes watched our city grow, change and prosper. His involvement in real estate development, the Chamber, the Zoning board, the Masons and so much more were all testaments to his belief in our little town. Ray, in his 50 years of barbering cut the hair of nearly every VIP at ASU, Tempe, and the state of Arizona. While, no doubt the skills were intact long before, it was through his maturity as a barber that he learned to watch and listen to people. For all those who really knew him, he did far more than cut hair. A few of his accomplishments would include Charter Member of the Tempe Boys Club, Recipient of the Gold Medallion from the National Boys Club of America, admission to the Barbers Hall of Fame, Founding member of the Rio Salado Bank and Chairman of the Bank at the time of its sale to Zion's Bancorporation.

These were the eyes of a subtle, no-frills philanthropic soul. Ray would see a need and help find an answer, whether that was a $100 loan to a perfect stranger or traveling to give a haircut to someone who was too ill to come to the shop. Ray made the shop the center of our city for many years. It was a place where a good haircut was reasonable, conversation was lively and help could be found.

These were the eyes of a talented entrepreneur. While Ray's formal education was limited, he was not a man to be underestimated. A brilliant, self-taught businessman, he not only provided a good life for his family; he paved the path for so many others. He saw Tempe for what it could be, before it was. His foresight was beyond reproach.

These were the eyes of the man who knew the best deal in town. Ray was known for his constant journeys to make a deal. His deals were everything from prime real estate in Tempe to artifacts of Arizona history. If there was a deal to be cut, Ray was the one to go to...we think he must have originated the definition of negotiator!

These were the eyes of a great storyteller. Ray loved people. He would listen to their stories, and in a short time would be ready to share his own. While Ray's stories were great and almost always filled with some element of humor, what was most entertaining was the way he told them. His contagious laughter, sparkling eyes and earnest interest in engaging those around him always left you wanting to hear more.

These were the eyes of a good husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather. Steve, Stan, Randy, Deborah and Charles all treasured their dad. Ray ran a "tight ship" and expected a lot out of his children, which was a phrase he extended to daughters and sons in-laws alike. Ray loved to brag on his family and their accomplishments to anyone who might show an interest in listening.

These were the eyes of a man who embraced integrity. Honesty, honor, compassion and love were all qualities he lived every day. As we looked into Ray's eyes for the last time, we couldn't help but think of the ways he had touched our lives. He lived his life as a good, Christian man and a member of Arizona Community Church. He was our patriarch, our leader, our director. Without him our path is less clear.

The leader of the band is tired, And his eyes are growing old. But his blood runs through my instrument, And his song in is my soul. My life has been a poor attempt, To imitate the man. I'm just a living legacy To the leader of the band.

Ray was a good, genuine and kind man. His spot in this world cannot be replaced. For those who were lucky enough to know him he will be greatly missed. Goodbye Ray...we can hear him now saying, "What's your hurry? Can't you sit down and stay a little longer?"

Services will be held at Arizona Community Church, 9325 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona. Viewing from 5:00p.m. - 7:30p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 and Funeral services held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, March 20, 2008.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made in Ray's memory to The Hospice of the Valley - hov.org

Obituary printed by the East Valley Tribune - March 19, 2008
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Ray's ASU Barber Shop
905 E. Lemon, Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 968-3515
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