Ray Paul Evans

Ray Paul Evans

Died September 13, 1985

Ray entered the world as a three-pound preemie in Aurora, IL and grew into a handsome, broad-shouldered man. His twin sister, Paula Gay, lived just one day. Ray attended St Paul’s Lutheran School and then East High School where he was a geek in glasses, at the top of his class and graduation speaker.

At Yale’s freshman orientation in the fall of 1961, Ray broke his leg and literally limped through the first semester. Sophomore year he moved into Jonathan Edwards College and opted to major in history. He was Captain of JE’s Debate Team for three years as well as president of the Intercollegiate Debate League during his senior year. Ray was a Yale aide for all four years and worked one year as undergraduate chairman of the Tuberculosis Drive.

After Yale, Ray earned a Masters of Art and Teaching from the University of Illinois but then changed direction and applied to law school at the University of Pennsylvania. With a newlyminted J.D. in hand, in 1969 he left Philadelphia for Manhattan. In what his older brother described as a “miscarriage of justice,” Ray Paul passed the New York bar exam on his first attempt. He settled into an apartment of 51st and Second Avenue and started work as a stock broker for Shearson, Hamill and Co.

Subsequently, Ray practiced theatrical law for Warren & West. In 1975, he and Otto Grun produced Tom Eyen’s Women Behind Bars off Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theater. Divine played the lead to sell out crowds. Eventually Ray Paul started his own law practice. He enjoyed tackling his clients’ problems and often worked pro bono for the indigent. His wide spectrum of friends included artists, professors, actors, musicians and unfortunates, all of whom relished his sharp intelligence and outrageous sense of humor.

He was also generous and caring. On one occasion, while simultaneously whipping up dinner and entertaining friends, he ran to his fourth-floor window and tossed out his velvet-collared black coat to a pal in a taxi en route to the opera. “Spread love like butter,” he often said with Protestant fervor.
Ray Paul was the madcap uncle of Christopher Miles and Jonathan Lord Brookfield. He taught both nephews to play chess. Ray loved games, puzzles, magic tricks, cards and cracking codes. His enthusiasm and high spirits were magnetic. “Play while you’re young; work when you’re old” was his motto.

At the time of his death on September 9, 1985, Ray was an administrative law judge for the City of New York, a job he embraced because every case was “different and the claimants came from all walks of life.”

Ray Paul’s life was savagely cut short by a mysterious and fatal virus. His response was brave and singular. Fearing identification as a pariah or attack and retaliation if he sought support from the Gay Men’s Health Center, he soldiered on alone. He made a joke of the “blue bye-bye pills” he took for sleep and admonished his friends, “Cry when I’m gone; don’t cry now.” He put on a happy face and quixotically announced from his hospital bed: “Guess what? I will never have to get old!”

Less than a year after diagnosis, Ray Paul died in calm disbelief in New York Hospital – just a few weeks before Rock Hudson. The morning of the day he passed away Ray asked his sister to read him the New York Times opera review; that evening, as he left, his brother offered to turn on the television. “What?” Ray responded, “It’s already on.” His brilliant mind had drifted on to another adventure.

Ray’s vibrant life came to an end way too soon. But family and friends discovered they too could spread love, even through hospital gowns, face masks and latex gloves. No one then fathomed the route of contagion. No quilts were yet sewn to commemorate early victims of a terrible plague. Good Shepherd Episcopal Church was packed on the day of Ray’s memorial service. Loyal friends half expected the corpse to arise from the back of the hearse and declare the dark nightmare of disease and discrimination over. Instead, Ray’s brother and sister carried his ashes to Brewster, Nebraska and buried them in the sand hills – next to his tiny twin sister and at the base of a large Celtic cross. Ray Paul was 42.

Ray was survived by his beloved mother, Gladyce Ross Evans’ his brother, John Miles Evans, Y61 and Yale Law 67; his cherished sister, Gayle Evans Brookfield, and three nephews, Jon, Chris and Jeremy A.M. Evans.