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Ray Rivera

Ray Rivera of Gainesville, FL passed away peacefully on Friday July 15, 2016 at E.T. York Haven Hospice, surrounded by his loving family and countless friends. Ray was born Ramiro R. Damian in Michoacan, Mexico to Demetrio Rivera and Maria Refugio Damian, on January 10, 1937. He came to Florida as a young teen and graduated from Gainesville High School in 1958 and went on to graduate with a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Florida in March 1969. He met the love of his life, Sandi King, on the white sand of Crescent Beach in August of 1964 and 3 months later, they were married in Roanoke, VA on November 28, 1964. They moved to Gainesville directly after their wedding where Ray continued his education. They were joined on their life adventure by their only child Antonio “Tony” in January 1967. After Ray graduated from college, he began his career of designing beautiful homes in and around the Gainesville area. His designs were and are known for their beauty as well as functionality. As always in keeping his love close, he brought Sandi into his office expanding his business opening Sandi’s Blueprints. In the 52 years of their marriage, he and Sandi created a wonderful, loving community of friends and associates. In 1976 Ray and Sandi along with a few friends introduced the Gainesville community to soccer. Ray was an excellent athletic himself and knew the importance and opportunities organized sports could give children – not to mention the FUN!! He and Sandi became anchors to the Youth Soccer organization known as YSI which became an integral part of the Gainesville community. Over the next 40 plus years, thousands of children and parents participated in the program while Ray and Sandi personally coached teams and fulfilled administrative services for YSI. They both became icons of soccer in the Gainesville community. Ray was a mentor to other coaches and players leading by his examples of encouragement, integrity and pride in self and team to each and every one of his players. He and Sandi gave untold hours of their lives to the organization and the children of the community. Over the years, Ray and Sandi both expressed their work in YSI has been the most rewarding part of their lives along with seeing the impact of their love and commitment for the children and community. They now see and know this love has come full circle for their beloved coach! Over 12 years ago Ray and Sandi faced a new life challenge with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. But as they have always done, they faced it with a steadfastness and a confidence that was held together with their bond of love. Somewhere along the way, Ray lost his ability to design his beautiful homes but he never lost his love of soccer or the children. His favorite place was always on the soccer fields with his love Sandi who was always at his side. Even as recently as June of this year, Ray’s eyes would light up at Jonesville as the soccer fields were filled with kids of all ages. He would lift his arm, wave and smile to each and every one as they walked passed him. They were all special! He loved being a soccer coach, husband, father, friend and mentor, and he also loved history, big band music and dancing! He had a wonderful sense of humor and the absolute best laugh! His survivors include his loving wife, Sandi, his son ‘Tony’ and his wife Teresa, a grandson Juan Rivera and a great grandson Nathaniel. He also leaves behind a brother Demetrio Rivera and several nieces and nephews along with his wonderful cats. Ray was presented the E. T. York Service Above Self Award, by the Rotary Club in 1999. With the creation of the Gainesville Youth Soccer organization, his friendly unassuming manner, and gentle good humor, Ray leaves behind him a legacy that will live on. A celebration of Ray’s life will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday July 30th, 2016 at Eastside High School’s Auditorium 1201 SE 43rd Street Gainesville, FL. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gainesville Soccer Alliance, Scholarship Fund, 14100 NW 32nd Ave. Gainesville, FL 32606.

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In consideration of COVID-19, as well as the families we are serving, we would like for those of you whose immune systems are compromised please stay home and send the family a condolence card. We may also be forced to postpone services if this continues or worsens. Our profession as funeral directors is not only focused on serving families, but also protecting the families and the community at-large. Thank you and please take care!

In consideration of COVID-19, as well as the families we are serving, we would like for those of you whose immune systems are compromised please stay home and send the family a condolence card. We may also be forced to postpone services if this continues or worsens. Our profession as funeral directors is not only focused on serving families, but also protecting the families and the community at-large. Thank you and please take care!

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