Raymond Richard, 55

PORTLAND — Raymond “Ray” Richard, 55, for many years the de facto mayor of the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets, died recently at his home in Portland after declining health.

Ray was born in Westbrook, son of Judith Fay (Ferris) Richard and Rene Albert Richard. He attended Westbrook schools, but dropped out and left home at age 17. He loved the ocean and served for a time in the United States Navy. He was a skilled woodworker and storyteller. He enjoyed fishing off the Maine State Pier and traveling down to Old Orchard Beach to hang out with friends and play his guitar “Betsy.”

Ray was open about his lifelong struggle with alcohol abuse and life on the streets. For many years, he could be found almost every morning in his “office” at the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets, greeting passersby with a smile and a joke. He had many friends and was known both as a survivor and someone who looked out for his buddies. Three years ago, he was able to secure housing with the help of social workers from Preble Street, which allowed him to cook meals for himself and watch ballgames on television at his apartment.

Ray is survived by his mother, Judith Richard of Westbrook; three sisters, Carol Ann Dalpee of Casco, Christine Lothrop of Dixfield and Gayle Richard of Westbrook; a brother, Ron Richard of Westbrook; a cousin; and a daughter, Katherine Merrill.

A brief celebration of Ray’s life will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 30 on the corner of Middle and Exchange Streets, with coffee to follow in the offices of Warren, Currier & Buchanan, 57 Exchange Street. In the event of inclement weather, the memorial itself will be moved inside.

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