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Raymond Orvin Craven



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1936 to 2021

Ray Craven, a devoted longtime member of the Newtown community, passed away peacefully in Hebron, Connecticut, in the early hours of April 22. Ray was born July 31, 1936, and was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up playing football and baseball, collecting stamps, earning his Eagle Scout, and working construction for the city water crew. After high school graduation, his parents Orvin and Florence sent him on a train cross-country to Harvard, where, despite his bare bones Omaha schooling, he succeeded in graduating on time in 1958.

Ray married Judith Ince Craven in 1961 had three children: Dan, Sue, and Jim. In 1968, after Ray completed medical training, they all moved to Newtown for Ray to open up his medical practice. He was an old fashioned, small town doctor. His patients typically loved his kindhearted approach. He often made house calls in the middle of the night and on weekends.

After office hours, Ray was quick to remove his signature, one-and-only black knit necktie and pursue his many other passions. Inexhaustible energy allowed him to fill every hour playing tennis, coaching Little League, or doing yardwork. He taught his own children to play tennis and bridge — and enjoyed nothing better than leading a posse of kids from Grand Place up to Newtown Middle School to pitch buckets of baseballs and play running bases.

Highly influenced by his own childhood coaches, Ray coached rec basketball and, for nearly two decades, Little League baseball. Prior to any league rules governing playing time, Coach Craven made sure that every team member received fielding and batting opportunities in each game, assigned as many kids as possible catching or pitching mound duty, and strived to treat all kids like his own. Ray turned his Grand Place residence backyard into a mini field of dreams for his teams to gather and practice before games. Ray’s dedication and full engagement with his players led the flagship Newtown Hardware kids to many seasons of great memories and sportsmanship lessons.

Tennis was another sports passion. Ray learned tennis when it was recommended that his sister, Happy, play tennis to strengthen her legs to help her recover from polio. Ray, Happy, and their brother, Don, became lifelong tennis players. Ray’s life was enriched by his various tennis partners — especially Leon Barkman, Don Jackson, Fritz Freeman, and John Sutor. It was a golden age of tennis for the Newtown Tennis Association, and Ray was always in the thick of events such as the Bertram Stroock Memorial Tournament, Newtown Open, Newtown Invitational, and the annual Newtown vs Brookfield tennis challenge

Community service was another of his pillars. He provided free physicals for the Boy Scouts and Little Leaguers. In addition to the Newtown Little League, where he served as president for over a decade, Ray served on the Parks and Recreation Commission, was a member of the Newtown Jaycees (and the Jaycee’s softball team), and was a founding member of the Big Brothers of Newtown. In 1988, Ray was honored as the Newtown Bee Sportsman of the Year.

Ray married Judith Kovacs Craven in 2000. After several years in Newtown, they moved to Hebron, to a home they built and loved, on a wooded property. Ray had plenty of space to let the dogs roam and work outside. Judith and Ray shared a love of country dancing, the outdoors, and dogs. Judith introduced Ray to breeding Bull Mastiffs. Typically, they had two or more of these gentle giants roaming their home. Thunder, one of the last of the original bloodline, died only a week before Ray, and was likely the first to welcome Ray to the other side of the rainbow. Ray was fortunate enough to be warmly welcomed into Judith’s family. He will be sorely missed by Heather, Dan, Nick, Katie, and Andrew, and his family.

Ray is also survived by his brother Don and Don’s family, as well as the family of his sister Happy (who predeceased Ray). Ray’s three children and their families look forward to years of sharing great Ray stories and hope to continue Ray’s legacy of kindness, service, and positivity. Any positive Ray memories you wish to share with us, are welcome to be sent to Sue at cravenwilliams@comcast.net. We have been enjoying reminiscing about what a unique character he was. As of now, no formal public memorial service will be scheduled.

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1 comment
  1. twyatt8898 says:

    Ray Craven was a great great man. When I moved to Newtown in 1981, I was hearing about this legendary Little League coach. I was assistant coach of my little brother’s team and lost to Ray (Newtown Hardware) in the championship game in 82. He inspired me to become a coach myself, which I then did from 1983-93. While I only coached against him for one year in 83 (I moved up to Babe Ruth League) he had a profound impact on my life and – by ripple effect – hundreds of others. I haven’t seen him in 30 years since I awarded him with The Newtown Bee Sportsman Award, but my heart was very sad to read of his passing. The Little League program in Heaven just got an upgrade. RIP Doc. #thankyou

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