Saturday, January 5, 2008

Ray Farkas died peacefully January 4, 2008 at Community Hospice in Washington DC.

He died as he lived with grace and aplomb... relishing time with those he loved... each savoring their unique bond with him. Ray's glow lives on in the lives he touched. Which were many. He brought out the storyteller in all of us. Please add your story about Ray to those below.

Ray gave the ultimate gift of his bodily remains to Georgetown University Hospital for medical research. He is grateful to the doctors there for the full life he lived during the past three years as a result of deep brain stimulators which allowed him to cope with Parkinsons. His premature death from colon cancer was a cruel blow for a man who prevailed in the face of greater health challenges.

Ray's children -- Mark, Julie, Danny & Andrew -- and his brother Gene, and I are deeply moved by the gift of your stories.  In your words... "Ray's generous and creative spirit and the zest for life he infused in those around him... lives on".


Bill Katz said...

Ray was a mentor and a friend as he was to many. His talent, wit, intellect, creativity and magnificent spirit live on in his brilliant work and in our memories. I miss him dearly.

Britishrocker said...

Sharon and Dave told me the bad news about Ray going to Storytelling Heaven...he is up there showing Kuralt, Jennings, and Murrow how it's done.

The Farkasthons at the NPPA News Video Workshop were stuff of legend...if you were there, you get happy, blurry eyed, and in awe at the same time.

"Nashville" was my favorite, only because "Interviews 50 Cents" made me too jealous!

Ray had more friends than Vegas has Neon. He was a knobby kneed genius that always gave back, always cracked you up, and always had a questionable fashion sense.

But don't we all.

Farewell and huge hugs to the best of the best of the best...

Live Love Laugh Luck Life Learn,


Dave W said...

From a Jewish Memorial Prayer-

"They were loved and pleasant in their lives
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions
to carry out the will of their Maker,
and the desire of their steadfast God.
May our Lord remember them for good
together with the other righteous of the world."

I cannot say enough about how much Ray will be missed in this world. My life is better knowing him.

Brian Storm said...

Ray was a master storyteller. I feel blessed to have met and collaborated with him. His work will be an inspiration to many future generations.

Anonymous said...

This is a modified version of a letter I delivered to Ray on Thanksgiving Day; I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to tell him these things. I will miss the hell out of him.

November 22, 2007

Dear Ray,

On this day of thanks…

Thank you for teaching me to look at life through the luscious haze of a pro-mist filter. It makes the world more beautiful and interesting.

Thank you for teaching me to listen, for the advice that a whisper will always reveal more than a shout, that you can make art out the squeak of a chair, the tap of fingers on a typewriter or the sizzle of bacon fat hitting a hot grill.

Thank you for imploring me to attend to details…the warm glow of a birthday candle, the flashing lights of a wannabe country singer’s phone or a simple street sign.

Thank you for allowing me to crash your edit sessions and for encouraging me to appropriate what I learned and make it my own. You hate it when I call you my mentor, so we’ll just leave it at that.

Thank you for the letters you wrote on my behalf, to Phyllis Geller and Bob Abernathy and to me. I’ve kept them all.

Thank you for teaching me as much about friendship as you did about telling stories. You never miss a chance to wish a friend a happy birthday, which you’ve documented in your meticulous Ray Farkas handwriting on your desk calendar. You keep track of your people -- thank God I’m one of them.

Thank you for the chats when you were my landlord, so Farkas-like -- a wall sat between us and we looked at each other through our reflections in your television screen. A reminder that we don’t have to be in the same room to talk.

I thank you for you.

With Love,

Geoff said...

I guess God is now wearing a wireless mic and wondering what the hell Ray is doing putting that camera way over there with a pearly gate in the foreground......

Every now and then Cathy and I have been privileged to work with true genius, and Ray is at the top of that list.

On top of that, a true gentleman.

Godspeed Ray.

Geoff Dills and Cathy Feister

Josophist said...

I first met Ray on a snow-laden February day. The meeting was an "interview" of sorts. Mark had recommended me to his father to work on a project Ray was just starting.

I went dressed in a sport coat.

I was nervous about the "interview," particularly after driving through blizzard-like conditions that made me late for the "interview."

I walked into Off Center Productions, buffeted by the smell of recently microwaved hot dogs and taken aback with the image of Ray...sitting shorts.

He said, "Hello...I always wear shorts."

We began with some chit-chat about me...well...actually, it was more like an interrogation...Ray asked me about every aspect of my life. His questions were particularly probing about my love life.

Then he simply began playing Betas.

Marriage License Bureau.


Fortified Wine.

Ray took me on a tour of his life's work...which was to make television that broke conventions about the limits of the viewer and introduced a type of visual storytelling that involved the viewer instead of hammering them condescending clichés.

Ray taught me how to use the camera eye to see the subtleties that often are ignored by producers, and to use the wireless mic to listen to people...really listen...and not force them to be something that they are not.

Over the years, Ray showed me much more, though, about fighting against odds. Professionally and physically, Ray was a marvel. He fought. Always.

He never backed down.

That was Ray, and so shall Ray be forever in my mind and heart...and, I suspect, in the minds and hearts of us all.


Jim said...

Ray's smile will forever be in my his spirit and lust for life. He told stories like none other..his love of movies... his craft...I learned so much from Ray's can never be was his way.
That great smile..those piercing eyes..he listened so was his way. I miss you Ray..

Kathleen said...

Sharon, Andrew,Julie and Family:
Of course, our hearts are sad. We pray for Ray and for all of you, Ray's legacy. Just know you are very much in our thoughts right now.
Kathleen, Jim and Sam

newsshooter3 said...

Thank you Ray!


Ned said...

I was extraordinarily fortunate to have known Ray. We first met in 1985. He was a wonderful friend always providing an insider's guide to life.. We shared a million laughs. In June of 1994 Ray was in Albuquerque at an NPPA event. He came over to the house. We were having a beer when the phone rang. "Turn on your TV right now". It was the OJ Simpson slow Bronco chase. We watched it -- amazed. After a while they managed to rush Barbara Walters on the air to add commentary over the continuing helicopter chase shot. She sounded inebriated.
She didn't even notice when the Bronco took an exit off the freeway.

Ray called some inside number he knew at ABC and told them she was drunk and demanded they take her off the air. Not long after they did. We have laughed about that ever since.

I really miss him.

Larry Hatteberg said...

Ray taught all of us in so much in very different ways.

He taught us how to 'see'!

He taught us how to 'listen'!

He taught us how to laugh!

He taught us how to live!

He honored us by giving of himself.
We honor him by sharing what he taught us.

Larry Hatteberg

Kate Gower said...

I met Ray by accident in Vancouver, BC at some journalism thing or another. He just blew in, all shorts and knobbly knees, picking up old friends as he went. They were all hugely talented TV people, so I can’t remember how I got invited along.

It was Scott’s birthday, and as a present, he asked me to sing Happy Birthday to Ray. I did, and everyone one at the Hotel Vancouver joined in for the last line.

Then we went walking in the mild Vancouver temperatures and met people’s dogs (everyone has a dog in Vancouver). “Hello,” we’d say to unsuspecting passers by, “can we meet your dog?”

Ray had a way of making stuff like that happen.

You rocked Ray. I hope you're comfortable and happy wherever you are.

Kimberly Halkett Rensberger said...

I remember when my son was born. It was nine days after the 9/11 terror attacks and no one was celebrating. I had just had a baby so I wanted to be excited. But, the only thing I remember the nurses telling me is that it was a terrible time to bring a child into this world. I was feeling pretty down until Ray showed up. Other than my husband, Scott Rensberger, Ray was my only visitor. He brought me a lottery ticket and reminded me that life goes on and there's always a reason to keep smiling, celebrating and looking toward the future and the promise of something more. That $1.00 ticket wasn’t a winner. But, the lesson I learned was. I never forgot what Ray said to me that day. In fact, when I think of Ray, I think about how he lived his life always looking and moving forward, no matter how many blows he was dealt. Ray emanated all that is positive. I miss him terribly. But, his “rays” of hope and warmth have forever changed me. Ray lives on through those he touched and taught. Good-bye Ray.

Kimberly Halkett Rensberger

Captain Video said...

My favorite memory of Ray is from a recent Kentucky News Photographer's TV judging/contest. I'll always remember the grin on his face as he lay on the floor watching the audience react in awe and amazement to "Brain Surgery" and other classic Farkas stories.

The college kids I brought, spent the drive back to Indy talking about the "old guy's" amazing stories.

Ray was one of a kind!
Steve Sweitzer

Sandy said...

Ray didn’t march to a different drummer; he was the drummer.

He called his company “Off Center,” but it could have been called “Through the Looking Glass.”

What was up, was down; down, up. The angles, focal length, foreground artifacts – the “glass” – did not distort, however.

They clarified to present an essential, more truthful and more natural picture.

Some years ago, I had left a long career in news for public relations and started doing videos for clients. First person I went to for advice on how to break free of the news mold and how to deal with the process of satisfying client/producers was, of course, Ray.

Munching on the Costco goodies in his office, and after having rather spontaneously been asked to review a production he was quite proud of -- a report on the Penis Museum in Iceland-- I asked him, by the way, what do you call the version of a video that you show to the client for their comments and possible changes?

Ray said emphatically, “FINAL CUT!”

Ray, we love you and will miss you greatly. Our thoughts are with your extended family.

Sandy and Karen

Edward Fox said...

Ray Farkas had a profound influence on me, my work, and what I expect out of television. In a run-and-gun world of fast edits and flashy production, Ray made me feel the power of simply slowing down to take it all in. I regret that I never got to work with him, but I'll have to take a little bit of Farkas with me every day. Peace and comfort to the Farkas family.

Anonymous said...

Ray was such a big influence in my life. He graciously took me under his wing when I started working in television. And what a big wing it was! He was so full of immense talent, wisdom, laughter and love.

Earlier this year we were scheduled to have lunch and although he initially didn’t want me to bring food, somewhere in the course of that morning Ray changed his mind. He left three consecutive messages on my cell. The first one was requesting a strawberry milkshake from McDonalds. The second one added a pack of fries and the third instructed me to go to a specific McDonald’s on Wisconsin Avenue because they had the best double hamburgers and he wanted to have one of those as well, but it had to be the double dollar hamburger, not the regular hamburger because the double dollar burger was better. That was Ray. Always reaching for more and better; with a smile. As we sat eating in his office catching up on his keen interest in my love life he showed me a piece he had filmed at Yale. I had just returned from filming there myself. It was a beautiful story, with a wonderful choir shot in his genius style. I felt so moved by that piece and I asked him how old it was. He said, “Oh I think it was about 25 years ago” I just shook my head and said, “Ray, it may be 25 years old, but they still haven’t caught up with you.”

My love to Ray and his family, he adored all of you so much.


Peter H said...

Ray Farkas influenced people all over the world. He was one of the few people who has introduced truly original ideas.

After having attended a Farkasathons at The Workshop in Oklahoma, I wanted to dublicate the "Farkas-style" I wrote him for help and he wrote me a long e-mail back, explaining and suggesting ideas. The following year he sat down with me at The Workshop for half an hour and looked at my story although he was busy.

He was a great person and a great storyteller and I still use his quote: "Television is often good journalism, but it is seldom good television". He never made that mistake.

I will miss him

Peter Holm, Denmark

patrick said...

Whenever my kids came to the office they made a beeline to visit "The Candyman". A visit to Off Center always meant pockets full of Skittles and Twizzlers. But more importantly he made time for a chat. The kids say he was like an uncle to them.

We shared office space for 10 year. I believe it's fair to say that Ray offered me a Hebrew National hot dog for lunch nearly every day I was in. It's a good thing he had more vision and creativity in his storytelling than in his culinary choices.

We all know Ray was special as a producer, writer and director. To me he was more, Ray was always kind and encouraging. He gave it to you straight. He was a good friend. He was simply "Ray". There will never be anyone like him.

Anonymous said...

If you were lucky enough to be invited to lunch with Ray and that day's Blue Plate Special of characters you always went.
No matter who was there Ray arranged the air around us so that he could quietly sit back and, with the exception of a few quiet questions, watch and listen as we entertained him. You did eat, well, because eating was good. Always.
When lunch was over, some 2 hours later, you left, wiping tears of laughter from your eyes and with the realization that because of the magic of the moment if only for a short time, you had become a storyteller, giving up to Ray and the rest stories you never even knew you had in you.
He could orchestrate this without even being involved and just look, he is still doing it.

Good-bye my friend. You gave me more than you could possibly have known.

Mark and Sasha said...

Ray was incredible - the summer I spent interning with him was not only a learning experience but also hysterical. I think we ate more than we worked that summer - he had that incredible goodies table. We will miss you Ray - love, Sasha

Matthew Knisely said...

I am writing to extend my deepest condolences to you and your family. I was so very sad to hear about Ray, he was such a wonderful man who had a profound impact on my life both personally and professionally.

I had the honor and the pleasure to know him and I was very sorry to hear about his passing. I had the greatest respect for Ray and will miss his wit, smile, and work and I must not forget his generous nature and sharing his remarkable sense of humor.

Please know your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I will light a candle for Ray tonight.

God Bless.

Chris Smith said...

I had the good fortune to intern with Ray during my senior year in college, while he woked on "Metropolian Edition." I learned more in that 8 months than I did in four years of journalism classes.

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to work with him and get to know him... and I'll never forget riding to work with him in that Camaro.

My deepest sympathies to Ray's family, and all those closest to him.

I'll miss him.

Michael Clem said...

Friends introduced me to Ray when he was looking for original songs that celebrated Washington, DC. Before we ever met in person, we had a few emails and one phoner.

I needed a little direction and he suggested to think along the lines of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". “…anything but another political parody,” he emphasized. When I called him back with a very rough draft, I wondered how we could get together so I could play it for him.

"Just play it for me over the phone," he said.

I put down the phone and nervously began to strum and sing this infant tune.

"I LOVE it, when can I shoot you?" he asked in response.

On a hot August day we set out from his Georgetown office in his convertible with his cameraman in another car ahead. We tooled around Rosslyn for a vantage view of the monuments. This didn't work out when we stumbled upon a Clint Eastwood picture being filmed at the Iwo Jima - engulfing the entire area with crews and police.

"Well, that's a bit hackneyed anyway, let's go up the Parkway," he reconciled.

It became clear that he was improvising. It also became clear that was unflappable. It also became clear that he was a joy to be with -- calm, funny and optimistic.

In a few takes, we captured what we needed at a GW Parkway overlook. A National Airport-bound jet flew overhead at the exact moment of a plane reference in the song's lyrics. Ray looked up and smiled with that “Right on time” expression. It was as though he planned the whole thing.

What Ray brought to the world (as evidenced by his other work online) was the ability to celebrate life through an incredibly long lens. Sure, he was a fly on the wall, but that wall was usually in the next room. He would eavesdrop through a window or partially open door knowing that the presence of a camera would affect and corrupt the natural flow of events. He was a documentarian of the truest sense. He knew that when you take the time to simply observe the environs around you, there's so much magic and beauty, that you’d otherwise miss in your 50mm world. What a life lesson.

We only met in person one other time, when I stopped by his office about 8 months later with my fiancé. Ray’s right brain started churning. “I know, I know. I can shoot the two of you on paddleboat in the Tidal basin. Mike, you’ll be strumming your guitar, and playing a love song to her, and….”

That’s Ray for ya. He’s no doubt keeping a watchful eye on all of us with his long lens from his editing room cloud.

Dave Hamer said...

I never told you this Ray, but the first time I met the NPPA Workshop...I thought to myself "What a strange little man." Then I saw 'Nashville Music' and all the rest and it dawned on me "This man is a genius". Rest well my friend, rest well.
Dave Hamer

Julie J said...

Three snapshots of Ray to share:

In Albuquerque -- while everyone else was drinking down the house -- you leaned into the cutest girl in the room and said "Let's go get some ice cream." And damn if there was not an ice cream parlor across the street! I can still see the two of you coming back with those monster cones, grinning and laughing all the way.

In San Jose -- after the "all photogs should dress as well as the mayor" presentation -- you arrived like a rock star, took the stage in your cord shorts that were already sagging and your boney knees. The transmitters to three wireless mics, all there to capture only you, was dragging your shorts down and you kept grabbing the waist band and jumping up to get the elastic back to your waist. Half way through you stopped in mid sentence and said "I can't go on without talking about this mayor thing." The crowd --for San Jose -- went wild.

In Norman -- when I introduced you to one of your many "greatest fans" -- I gave you a set up by saying "he thinks you are a god." With the Ray twinkle in your eye and without missing a beat, you turned to him and said, "Son, aim higher."

To Ray's family, eternal gratitude for sharing him with us.

There are no words to capture the grief, respect, and wonder when thinking of Ray and the absence of him in our lives to come. I really cannot find the words. But I know if Ray were sitting across from me right now, he would look deep into my eyes with a hint of mischief and say, "Ah, come on -- try." And then he would sit back to hear just a fraction of the love he radiated come back to him.

May that love find you now and bless you.


AmStory said...

Ray was already one of the statues at NBC when I arrived back when the earth was cooling. News Correspondents reverently called him "20th Century Farkas." All his productions seemed like the work of that fabled Hollywood film company. Elaborate. Different. We were in awe. I always dreamed of working with him one day. Never happened. But the best of Ray lives on in all of us who still struggle to emulate him.

My thoughts and prayers are with family.

Bob Dotson
National Correspondent
NBC Today Show

Jesper Sterum said...

Today is a very sad day.
Not only for me in person, but for all great story-tellers in the world. I've lost a dear friend, a trusted colleague and a great source of inspiration.
Ray Farkas have died.
Only this morning, I thought of mailing Ray.
The world is going to be less colourful with Ray gone. I had the great privilege to witness Ray’s tremendous energy during the Farkasathons in the Big Room in Norman, as many of you may have. I wished the nights would have lasted forrever. I never wanted to go home.
I remember talking to him – very nervously – him being one of the true Masters of The Trade – and listening to his very sweet tone of voice. I asked Ray about “Interviews 50 ¢” and he told me how he had set the whole thing up. I told him that I wished to become a Danish “Ray Farkas” and Ray smiled and said: “Don’t be a” Ray Farkas”, Jesper, be yourself!” Having talked with Ray that night for what seemed to be a very long time, I watched Ray becoming tired. He collected all his video tapes and went home. Last thing I remember was his eyes catching mine and his lips saying “Go for it!”
I mailed Ray this spring. He told me to send the very best bits of my work, “so I can steal all your best ideas!”
What I have left are great moments of a loving and caring man.
May he rest in Peace
Jesper Sterum, TV2,Denmark.

Anonymous said...

What was so wonderful about Ray was his fabulous outlook on life. No matter what was going on in his life, he always took time to find out what was going on in mine.
“Are you gettin’ any?” was usually the first question he’d ask me.

Besides enchanting us with his off center view of the world, he shared with us his genius, his strength, his courage, and in the face of life’s greatest challenges, he gave us hope. I’m beyond sad that Ray’s gone. Many hugs my friend.

My love and condolences to Ray's family.

~Donna Brant

Mark said...

Dear Ray,
I know you're receiving these messages up there in the big blue beautiful sky. Thanks for the inspiration! You've shaped countless lives positively by your humble spirit and creative genius.

Mark Anderson

Scott Hedeen said...

Ray Farkas was a visionary.

Classic filmmaking skills and understanding people can pay off in the tv news world. I was inspired by Ray...inspired to shoot a way I had always hoped I could. Letting people tell their own stories...not me creating it the edit booth. Newsrooms today could use a little Ray Farkas in them.

Think of all the TV news people you have worked with....and how many of them thought Ray Farkas' stuff was "not real news". It was a battle I fought more than once. I have told

"Art has no place in news."

"Is that an interview or a two shot?"

or my favorite...

"You have a unique way of shooting...and I don't know whether I like it or not".

Explaining the conservative use of "Farkas Style" could make the world of difference in ANY story.
Humanization goes along way. The use of wirless mics at telephoto length and the minimal use of lighting gets the people who are being interviewed to relax and be themselves. For the photographer, It's hard not to zoom, pan or get the wide eyed up close shot... but in reality it's a more true skill to anticipate and let it all pay off with one moment of great sound.

I really don't see alot of that anymore... in fact... on any regular TV news broadcasts I've watched in the last year, I don't think I've seen anything like that. That's a shame.

TV news is constantly sinking on the quality level just to make quanity coverage. Sounds simple...but one great shot played out..breathing... can beat the hell out a series of ten quick shots over edited and over produced. Sure, in the "run and gun" world... it's hard to be creative and make slot... but dabs of "art" are what I took from Farkas.

I would like to thank Ray Farkas for doing TV news the way he did...and inspiring me. I send my thoughts to his loved ones...

Thank you Mr. Farkas.

Scott Hedeen.
Atlanta GA

nelson j. said...

I'm sorry to say I never crossed paths with Ray Farkas. But I still feel like I knew him. It only took me seeing one piece he shot in a diner after the sniper attacks that defined photojournalism. A true master of the craft. Television will miss you. Your work will continue to be an inspiration. Peace and comfort to your family.

Nelson Jones

Alex said...

I was back in radio, and back in DC after a stint working at KRON-TV, San Francisco. But I still had a TV project idea. After a friend at PBS saw the hi-8 pilot for one, she told me I really ought to talk to Ray Farkas.
I called my friend Ned at NBC...hey, do you know a guy who left the Washington bureau a while ago...Ray...Ray Farkum or something?
Oh, he said, you must mean 20th Century Farkas.
I was going to throw in with some guy named for a movie studio? What was that gonna be...?
Some of the best times working I ever knew.
Except for trying to get a drunk Barbara Walters off the that live OJ thing, he never made a wrong move.

paul & Holly said...

Once upon a time a small man who was balding, with a T shirt, shorts and tennis legs walked into our office and said “Hi I’m Ray and I’m your new neighbor, I’m leasing the office connected to yours.
So he invites us in to his office and tells us he’s a freelance producer that does stories for the networks. We look around and we see a table full of all the great food your not supposed to eat. I.e. .…………. Twislers, chocolate covered peanuts, small minature candy bars and countless other cholesterol busting snacks. He won us over in less than 5 minutes.
All of us became great friends and would screen each other’s work and jokes almost every day for ten years. He was a great writer and so so creative. Anybody that worked with him knew that…………. And anybody that saw his work would learn that.
We roomed with Ray for about ten years before we left CBS and our office. We would visit and talk to Ray once in a while. We came down one day when he was receiving chemo right after he found out about the cancer. He said he was going to fight this thing as long as he could. We so admire him for his accomplishments and his strengths. We will miss our roomy forever…………….
Paul & Holly Fine

Miriam said...

I am so sad that Ray is gone.

I had the pleasure of working in the adjoining office next door to Ray for five years. During that time, Ray cooked me lunch nearly every day. The meals were often some scary concoction he'd thrown together in the microwave (with a side of whatever candy he had recently bought at Costco), but our lunchtime gatherings were my favorite part of the day.

He was so easy to talk to and could get you to tell him pretty much anything. Too much, if you asked my boyfriend at the time. Ray listened, asked a million questions, gave advice and always, always made me laugh.

I am not surprised to see just how many people Ray touched in his lifetime. You were one of a kind, Ray Farkas, and the world won't be the same without you.

Scott said...

Ray Farkas was brilliant.  He was absolutely brilliant.  I marveled every time I looked into his eyes and watched his brain work.  It was
like having a front row seat next to a great master.  He made television his canvas.  His paint strokes were a lot like him -- they were wonderful, creative and beautiful.

For me, the most important thing about Ray was how he lived his life. I witnessed first hand how he would spend hours teaching and sharing
his craft with other journalists from coast to coast.  In Seattle, I watched a crowd mesmerized by his stories.  In Toronto, the class gave
him a standing ovation.  In Philadelphia, the journalists wouldn't let him leave because they loved him so much.

The first time I saw Ray was at a TV news workshop in Oklahoma.  He was like a rock star.  It took me several hours just to get close to
him.  He talked and shared all of his TV secrets through the night and I finally got to shake his hand around 1:00am.  It's also important
to note that Ray did all of these workshops for free.

Unlike anyone else I've ever met, Ray had this ability to make everyone around him feel comfortable and important.  Even though he
was the smartest person in the room he would always listen, even though he had the most experience in the room he would always make you
feel good about yourself and even though he was the best TV producer in the room he would never brag about his work, not even a little.

I will miss this man like a member of my own family.  I will miss the simple times of walking into his office, as he was playing cards with
an old friend, and having him look up and ask me if I wanted something to eat.  Ray always had a box of crackers or something to share.  Ray
also loved his condiments.  He new how sprinkle and pour little bits of goodness onto ordinary things and make them mouth watering hors d'oeuvres.

I'm not sure if Ray Farkas was the center of the universe but it would certainly explain a lot of things.  Everyone around him was drawn to him.  We were all pulled by his passion and charm.  On the other hand, maybe those hors d'oeuvres were laced with some type of metal particles and his
pockets were full of magnets.  As I mentioned, he was brilliant.

We all miss you Ray.

Scott Rensberger

seitschu1 said...

To Ray's friends the world over.
His daughter Julie welcomed us into her home today for Shiva. It was a privilege. His sons were there, or on their way. Far from the somber gathering I'd heard Shiva to be, Ray's spirit filled the house. Every recollection began and ended with a smile. Some of the folks there met Ray at The Workshop and knew him only for a few years, one man told me he has been his best friend since grade school.

I looked around the room, apologized for having to leave early to get a friend back to Baltimore to clock-in at the TV station, and marveled at the group of people Ray had collected, not only here, but around the world. We have been given a gift to know you Ray... a gift that we were part of your collection.

To a mentor, teacher, and friend... you live on.

M i k e
S c h u h
Baltimore, Maryland

Jay Premack said...

I must have see Ray's Nashville story at least dozen times and will never get tired of it. Most people can hook up a wireless mic and record video, but to be able to capture the true essence of a person the way Ray could is something that will challenge me for the rest of my life.

Ray, thanks for lunch, the crazy sharp wit and brutal honesty. I'm lucky to have known you.

Jay Premack
Washington, DC

dpotter said...

Every so often you meet someone whose life is a gift. Ray's life was a gift to all of us who knew him even slightly, through workshops, stories and day-long bicycle trips. He taught us, befriended us, made us laugh and cry. Even now, as sad as I am that he's gone, I can't help but grin about the great memories he left for us to keep.

Ray taught lessons in so many different ways. Obviously, we learned from watching him work and from seeing the results of his work. We learned from his enthusiasm for work and life. But Ray didn't just teach by example, he was always willing to join you for a meal and share how he thought about his work, especially if you were buying!

Sharon, Andrew, Julie and family--thanks for sharing Ray with all of us. However much we'll miss him, I know you will miss him more.

Deborah Potter
Washington, DC

Anonymous said...

I am privileged to have been one of the lucky ones to have worked intimately with Ray in the edit on one and to see his genius at creating memorable television. His stamp on me on how to tell and see a story will stay with me whenever I create and watch the media. Beyond all the TV stuff, his kindness, mentoring, and friendship meant the world to me. I will miss him greatly. My love and sympathy to all his family.

bob kanner

Anonymous said...

Churchill said that meeting FDR was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it. Having known and worked with Ray, and I'll say it, loved him, as many have, I can gladly say those words ring true of Ray too.

I had the gift of cutting two hours and a couple short pieces with Ray, the first being Catch-22. That film had the distinction of both getting him an Emmy and getting him fired. A classic story of TV executive "What the ...?" Nonetheless he became my champion, mentor and friend and I will never forget our times in the edit room. Always inspiring, often maddening, always fun. Our rule was to make one edit by noon, then Ray would clasp his hands together and say with an impish smile, "Let's eat!" His energy gained momentum around 4p and would/could continue into the night with more effectiveness and creativity than anyone I've worked with half his age. As the messages here all say, his style was singular.

The last time I saw Ray was over a salami sandwich at Krupins. The sandwich was mediocre, the company was not. I'll miss you pal. Your toaster oven should be awarded to the Museum of Television and Radio. Your catalogue too. The memories, I'll keep.

-Robert Zakin

Judy said...

Ray Farkus.

What an amazing man your were. I loved your spirit. I loved your laugh. I loved the twinkly in your eye.

You were a real talent in the television world and I always,always admired you and your unbelievable story telling abilities.

I met you through your good friend Lucky Severson and I can only thank him for letting me share a tiny part of your life.

I will truly miss you Ray.

Judy Hallet

Bill Menish said...

I have loved reading these comments, being reminded of something I already knew, that there are so many who feel the way I do about Ray Farkas. He has touched so many lives and shaped so many careers.

Ray made time for me at a KNPA event more than a decade ago. I had been a big fan but was afraid to approach him. How surprised was I when he came up from behind, put his hand on my shoulder and commented on my work. He showed sincere interest in my life and my career, giving me some great advice that I follow to this day.

Ray loved people, which is why we all loved Ray.

I believe he hears these messages as we think and then type them. And that's why I say to you Ray, thank you for the impact you have had on my life, and for touching so many other lives in that same way.

Bill Menish

jonathan said...

As you can see here,Ray was a major influence for a small army of people. We learned to look at things from a different perspective, and more importantly, we learned to look.
And listen.
And to shoot people talking to the open drawer of a file cabinet.

I'll miss him a lot.

Jon Ward

cameragod said...

I was lucky enough to ride along for a day with Ray in 1992. I am a big fan of his long lens stuff.
The first time I tried copying it the group of ladies at a table I had put a radio mic on spent very little time talking about the “topic” and the rest talking about my bum… my ears burnt.
I never was able to do Farkas like he could.
He really was a legend.

My condolences to his family.

chriskalhorn said...

I had the pleasure of getting to know Ray first as a patient and having him become my good friend. In this capacity, I feel like I got to know a very different side of Ray, apart from his TV life. Ray first showed up in my office with the idea of having his brain surgery made into a documentary. At first this sounded like a really bad idea to me. It didn't take long for him to convince me otherwise and to convert my operating room into an off center tv satellite office.

Ray became a tireless advocate for people with Parkinsons disease. He made it his mission in life to comfort anyone that he could with this disease. He showed up for clinic visits, he corresponded with people from all over the world by email to help them get the care that they deserved for their Parkinson's disease. He would even be at our patients bedside before surgery to comfort them.

I cannot tell you how many thousands of people that Ray has given hope to through his It Ain't Television It's Brain Surgery Documentary. He made people laugh and he never let Parkinson's disease rule his life.

Any time I called on him to speak to a patient who was contemplating DBS surgery he was always there. Any time, day or night. We certainly found ourselves in some amazing situations together whether it was in the Georgetown operating room or sitting on Oprah Winfrey's couch.

I am truly humbled and honored that Ray's final wish was to give his body to Georgetown that we can continue to work for a cure for Parkinson's disease.

I will always consider my friend Ray to be a true humanitarian and ambassador to people with Parkinson's disease. He is free now. Free from the diseases that tried to bind him. For this I am thankful. I will miss you, Ray! The Farkas family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

When I first started in the Biz as Lance Heflin's assistant Ray wold come by frequently to visit and give insight to Lance. On one very memorable occasion he asked me to walk across the street to pick up something! Not knowing Ray very well at this time, I agreed thinking...maybe he needed help carrying something back. Well the joke was on me while he grabed my hand and walked up to the pharmacy counter to ask for his perscription of Viagra. My face turned BRIGHT red and it was one of the funniest things anyone has every done to me...especially someone I didn't know that well. Over the next 10 years Ray grew on me even more with his visits to AMW and Lance's parties. I will miss him, his humor and advise SO MUCH!

My deepest sympathy to the Farkus family...just knowing him enriched my life greatly (and made me smile a lot more). -Stacy Fusaro

Anonymous said...

I loved Ray Farkas. Let's live like he did.

Carlos Spann

Anonymous said...

I had the very unique opportunity to work with Ray with Metropolitan Edition at WJLA. He really inspired me to bring out the real photojournalist in me and for that I will be eternally grateful. Ever since the first time I worked with him, and henceforth, all the video I shoot, will have a little bit of Ray's inspiration with it. Thank you Ray for making me a better shooter and for being a great storyteller, there will never be another like you, my friend!!!

---Edwin Wilson
WJLA photojournlist

joan said...

Editing with Ray was a lesson in patience. The man had stamina. It’s 3am and we are still comparing a 6 second dissolve to a 9 second dissolve. Is there a difference? You bet there is. Ray not only taught me the grace of a long dissolve, he showed me the beauty of editing sound. Working those fader bars on the audio console; holding them just long enough to hear the last bird chirping as the wind blows in. Ray taught me the beautiful dance of my craft. Thank you for gracing my edit room and the field of Television with your genius.

Matthew in Seattle said...

Ray was my inspiration for having DBS surgery done. He even gave NBC NEWS and Kim Griffis unlimited access to use footage from "it ain't tv it's brain surgery" for my own DBS story. Ray I will truly miss your inspiration and your guidance through my own journey with DBS. I will never ever forget you.

Atlanta PJ said...

I admired Ray's work during his time at NBC, and I finally had the good fortune to work with him twice prior to the Atlanta Olympic games. The time we spent together was an education in itself, but his patience and easy manner made both assignments a true pleasure. For me, Ray held a unique place in broadcasting. Crossing paths with Ray made me a better journalist.

Bob said...

I was one of the cameramen that Ray used over the years and what comes to mind is when a producer or cameraman that I was working with at a given time found out that
I've worked with Ray Farkas they would say -

" Wow - You Really worked with Ray Farkas - Man That must of been great"

It was better then great!

Anonymous said...

I met Ray back in 95 workshop,his Nashville story brought new style of shooting for all of us...For that & the his way doing tv news inspired me to be better storyteller...Thank you Ray for all you did....
Ali Ghanbari

Jeagle said...

Heaven just got a lot brighter, and earth a little less interesting

I will always remember Ray's great laugh and the enthusiasm and love he had for the art of storytelling. Although he is gone in body, his spirit will shine on in all those that he touched.

Thanks Ray

Joel Eagle, WJZ-TV

Anonymous said...

I ripped him off as often as I could... and never came close. He taught me how to listen. I thank God for knowing him, meeting him and learning from him...

J.R. Mahon

john campbell said...

Scott Rensberger is right. Ray could WOW! a crowd. I organized the event in Philadelphia that featured Ray (along with Scott)and over 250 journalists who had never witnessed anything like Farkas. Over twelve years later I still have folks who approach me to say they were there the day the master of all storytellers came to Philly. At the end of the day long session, when it was clear the audience wanted more, Ray kiddingly suggested we all jump on the train to Washington and head to his home to watch more of his work. So many of us would have made the trip!
Thank you Ray for taking the time to care about us...and for inspiring us to do better. You were, and remain, one of a kind.

John Campbell

MJ said...

My life is richer for having known Ray. He was a wonderful friend, and a brilliant producer. I'll always remember his warmth, humor, the private lunch room at NBC and his color-coded "to-do" lists with boxes drawn next to each line.

I wish he had another lifetime on earth.

John Hyjek said...

Ray always left me in awe. He was unique. His style often imitated, his genius rarely matched. We'll miss him.

Bob Hager said...

So long old colleague and friend of many years. Your fight was long and courageous. Your talents and your sense of humor were unsurpassed. Our paryers are with you, with Sharon, and with Andrew, Danny, Julie, and Mark.

Bob and Honey

lucky said...

I like that Ray wore tennis shorts instead of long pants because he was not going to be bound by any damn convention. And he approached his work in the same way. Who else would have produced an hour on baseball, where we never saw the ball being caught or where it went; what we learned about was the poetry of the game. On our first story together, Ray shot 4 on-camera segments with me - you had to search to find me in any of them. And how bout that rocking chair in the abortion doc he produced for Peter Jennings. I can still hear it going back and forth. Somehow, Ray managed to make us feel what we couldn't see. And when anyone, even a distant friend, came by for help or a job recommendation, even though Brother Farkas might be in need of work himself, he was on the phone immediately to help the friend out. I saw that a hundred times. What he could not do was 'guild the lilly.' If he thought a piece was mediocre or lazy, and he certainly thought many were, he would say so. He took his craft as seriously as anyone I know, and elevated it to art. Ray was a hero of mine. I'll miss him, and I'll miss the candy store that was his office.

Lucky Severson

peterstone said...

Back in the mid 70's while I was a new fresh shooter in Tucson, Arizona I'd stumble across some stories on NBC's "First Tuesday" and "First Camera" that always caught my eye. The photography was certainly different than anything I'd seen before on television .. it was more cinematic, interesting use of foreground, that depth. Damn, who is that shooter .. he's great! I'd say to myself.

Well thru NPPA I soon discovered that it wasn't the shooter at all but a producer named Ray Farkas. I started to get my hands on copies of everything that I could find by Ray. I studied every frame like mad and it wasn't long before I realized that that it wasn't just the photography that hit me emotionaly but also the storytelling of the pieces .. that quirkyness, that sly wit, all you "Farkas Fans" know what I mean.

From then on I'd try to talk whichever producer I'd be working with into doing it "Farkas" style. I'd hand them a collection of Farkas tapes and tell them to go home and watch them .. I mean REALLY watch them. I was met with much resistance from the producers, such as .. "we can't do that, this is a news story". I just kept pushing, sometimes working some Farkas style shots into every story that I could. I eventualy made my way over to Los Angeles and found a job as a shooter at KCET-PBS. I was finally able to convince a few producers into trying out that Farkas style, one being an inovative guy named Joe Kwong who later moved up to being an executive producer. Joe wanted to do a documentary about the LA Dodger's minor league team and I said we've got to get the man himself, Ray, to come over to produce it. Ray accepted and I swear that was the happiest day of my life .. finally to be able to work with the man I most admired in television. We worked on "DIAMOND LIFE" for the next 8 months and I was in awe every moment just to be in Ray's shadow. We collaberated on the shots like I'd never done with any other producer .. what about this for a foreground or that as the forground? My soundman who had to run 5 RF mics couldn't understand why we just can't fishpole the audio ..ha,ha. Ray would never let me light a scene, he wanted to keep the camera, any tv equipment and crew as far away as possible from the subject (he was certainly right about that) so I ended up doing interviews by a bare 60w house lamp using the grainy plus+18 gain on the camera .. which I hated, but he got a better interview out of it. It was Ray's idea to visually compare & contrast the bathroom facilities of the world champion LA Dodgers and their minor league counterparts .. there's shots of the gleaming Dogers urinals and the grity one stall toilet in Backersfield. That was art, that was Ray. I shot an hour documentary on a sports subject and not one pan or zoom or any camera movement ... that was Ray, that was art.

Ray always said to me .. "there's no such thing as b-roll, if it ain't good enough for the a-roll it's not going to air". I wish someone would put together a collection of Ray's wit .. you could teach a college course with it.

Ray always treated me as a person not just a shooter for his story, he was interested in everything about my life, he never stopped asking questions. We found out that both of us are Hungarian and "Farkas" in Hungarian means fox .. which can explain his "slyness" in capturing intimate moments of his subjects.

Ray was not only a mentor but a prophet, a messiah of televison. He showed us what communicating and storytelling could and should be like.

At first I loved the Farkas pieces .. then I fell in love with the man.

To the Farkas family (and Farkas fans) please except my heartfelt condolences.

Love ya Ray,
Peter Stone

viszontlátásra barátom

John Giannini said...

I can't tell you how hard this news hits me. Since meeting Ray in 2000, he had become a friend and an inspiration. Whenever I visited Washington in recent years, I made a point of stopping by Ray's office. We'd spend hours talking about projects and ideas and lamenting the fact that there wasn't more of a market for what we wanted to do. He always made me laugh and made me feel like an equal, even though Ray has no equal.

I will miss him.

Sadly, JG

Phil said...

Ray was irreverent. Part of his charm.
Some years ago, he and I went to a serious event, an event he didn't really want to attend.
Following the event there was a reception. Suddenly, Ray and I had drifted away from the others to a table filled with finger sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. We were soon 1) having a contest to see who could eat the most sandwiches, and 2) laughing so hard we could barely eat.
The event was a funeral.
Not just any funeral. It was the funeral of his mother-in-law.
I've always felt kind of guilty about the incident. Did Ray? I hardly think so!

Anonymous said...

After being captivated by "Diamond Life", Ray's baseball doc, I was compelled to meet the creative genius behind it. I traveled to Albuquerque with tape in hand to seek out an audience with "Mr Farkas" at the NPPA convention. During the morning session of presentations, I was standing in the back of the room when a small man standing next to me,in t-shirt,shorts and uncombed hair, asked me where I was from. I told him I was from Seattle and I was there to meet Ray Farkas. He suggested I aim higher. He then asked what I would do when I meet "Mr Farkas" and I said I wanted him to critique my tape. He finally introduced himself and asked if I was ready to show him the tape. It was great. He spent over an hour with me. Besides becoming a mentor of mine, we became good friends.

By this time I was hooked on the "Farkas" style. I remember going back to Seattle and scaring some of my reporters because I was setting up the camera so far away from the subject. Sometimes in the next room.

I feel very fortunate to have had the great experience of working with him a couple time as one of his shooters. He was very good at communicating his vision and made everyone feel very much at ease during the production. It was more fun then work.

Though I am very sad that he is gone, thinking about him makes me smile and laugh and feel good that I knew this man. As I have been reading all the other posted comments, I have also come to realize all the great people I have met through Ray. There may be one less storyteller on earth but because of Ray, there are hundereds more still here.

Thank you Ray and thank you Sharon for sharing him with us!

Anonymous said...

I worked for Ray Farkas a few months after I graduated college. With only a recommendation from a professor of mine (and good friend of his) he asked me to come in to work for him - no interview required (I was shocked!)
My first day I was treated to stuffing and turkey - leftovers from his dinner the night before. One of my biggest concerns heading into a new job is - honestly - where can I get lunch? This was never a problem with Ray - the fridge was always stocked. He would come in fresh from a trip to Price Club. We'd have bagels and lox, hot dogs and sauer kraut (wrapped in a tortilla!) and there were always mini snickers in the freezer.
I worked on a project with him on the GSA - which I didn't even know existed until then.
I learned great things from Ray - how to treat people, how to be an organized producer, and how to have fun while doing it all.
I am sad to hear of his passing - my thoughts and prayers are with his family.
-Jessica Rosgaard

Julie said...

Dad made our childhood one long, joyous adventure filled with laughter. There were no rules, no bedtimes, nothing conventional. He parented a lot like he worked.

The laughter and Dad’s incredibly quick wit continued up to the very end. Under the most grueling of circumstances he was still able to produce his one-liners. Four days before he died, on January 1st, I told him we’d gone to see Monty Python’s Spamalot. Hardly able to move or speak, he slowly lifted his index finger and said, “not dead yet.”

A few memories:

Tennis – From as early as I can remember he had all three of us (Mark, Julie and Danny) on the court for hours with our Jack Kramer Autograph tennis racquets which we kept in presses. Other tennis memories – he always played in a plain white t-shirt, never a collared shirt, 4 matches lined up in a day, cursing and the occasional racquet over the fence.

The Track – Another passion was gambling. We were regulars at Rosecroft Raceway back in its heyday. We’d usually have dinner in the club with a table right next to the gigantic windows overlooking the track. I think there were 9 races/night and he would give each of us $2 to bet on each race. I would always bet the favorite to show – which I know was a tremendous disappointment to my father who usually bet the longshot to win.

Tooth Fairy Letters – We couldn’t wait to lose our teeth because we couldn’t wait for a hilarious letter (usually half a page, single-spaced) from the tooth fairy. I guess we got some money for our teeth, but I don’t remember that part.

Bobby Kennedy – We had a huge poster of him in our basement. My father never preached to us, but ingrained in us a strong sense of social justice. He made sure we went to integrated schools before bussing, and that we understood the privilege into which we were born.

Our Basement – One of the main reasons my father bought our house was that the basement had enough space for a 1,000 pound slate Brunswick pool table. Also room for a ping pong table. And on top of that, a Seeburg jukebox, rigged so we’d never have to put in a quarter, loaded with Motown, Beatles and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Each title and artist printed in that famous Ray Farkas block print. Dad would fairly regularly come home from work around 10 pm, wake us up for some ping pong and pool, and Johnny Carson’s monologue. This started well before our teen years and may have played a role in why none of us reached our potential on the growth chart.

NBC Weekends – The place was pretty empty and no one seemed to mind three (4 including Dad) children racing chairs on wheels up and down those long, shiny halls. Then a walk to the best Roy Rogers on the planet on Wisconsin Avenue. The hamburgers there were always medium rare, the preferred doneness of the Farki children.

Eating Tours – No memories of my dad could be complete without food. We would pile into our yellow station wagon with the wood paneling and drive to Rt. 1 South in Alexandria. First stop, the Krispy Kreme when the “Hot Donuts Now” sign was aglow and order up a dozen hot ones. Then proceeding about 3 miles south, stopping at every fast food spot along the way, ordering up the chocolate shake at McDonald’s, the hush puppies at Arthur Treacher’s, the fries at Hardee’s… We would then stop for a few rounds of Putt-Putt Golf, to work off some of the calories. Then head back north, stopping at the Dixie Pig for pork barbeque, even at a Bonanza for the T-bone steak dinner to share in the back of the car. We’d finish off with another dozen at Krispy Kreme and at least that many belches.

Shorts – Dad wore shorts all through life and always implored us to follow our passions and be true to ourselves. The son of immigrants, this wasn’t something his parents ever said to him. But my father would tell us, “if you want to, be a car mechanic, just be the best car mechanic around.” Not a line you commonly heard from any parents, especially Jewish parents.

I thank everyone who has posted thus far. Your notes are a treasure to me and to my whole family. And I ask anyone who hasn’t yet posted to please share a “Ray story” with us all. He leaves an amazing legacy of work and love and work that he loved and people that he loved, well beyond our family.

Top 10 Things I loved about my dad:

1. His divergent thinking and unique view of the world, as seen through the camera lens and everything he did.
2. He wore shorts all through his life and encouraged us to do the same, at least metaphorically.
3. He knew and understood me at a deep level, often better than I knew myself (he helped me see, through his open-ended, nonjudgmental questions – the kind he used in his work – that a person I was thinking of marrying was a really nice guy, but not right for me – and delighted in the right one I did ultimately choose).
4. He found the perfect place for me to work after college graduation and just had to draft the letter to get the interview. It was signature Ray Farkas and it worked, and launched me on a fulfilling career in which I’ve “worn my shorts.”
5. He was the best letter writer (and tooth fairy).
6. His ability to make me laugh at will. I was putty in his hands.
7. The food – the eating tours, the creative use of the toaster oven, the buckets of chopped liver, the leg of lamb that he would grill, shave to the raw meat, then grill some more, the gypsy eggs, the chicken salad with Popeye’s chicken skin and caraway seeds and much more.
8. That he loved me enough to initiate a reconciliation with me after a 10-year cold war. He jokingly said he only did so because he was sure the therapist would tell me I was a vindictive daughter, but he truly opened himself up in this process, which was not an easy thing to do. Because of this, in his death, I have no regrets, no unresolved issues – and neither did he.
9. That he was a fighter and never gave up – not in a tennis match and not in his last battles.
10. He made my childhood a long, joyous adventure.

There are no words to capture the loss I feel. But how fortunate I am to be able to say that I was and will always be Ray's daughter.

Anonymous said...

I never had the opportunity to work in the field with Ray, but being in the same business with him gave me the utmost respect for him as a producer. Your father was the best at his craft. The industry will never be the same because of the loss of Ray.

My best to you Julie, your brother Danny and sister-in-law Lisa and to the rest of your family. Your father will be remembered as a wonderful person and a great mind.

Bruce Ferder

Anonymous said...

Starting high school at Chambersburg, Pa. in 1949, I never dreamed that Ray would someday become the great person he was. Our class and Chambersburg can be very proud of this guy
Ray's Father was a member of my Exchange Club in Chambersburg. This year, 2008, we are celebrating our 55 year class reunion from high school. In looking at his graduation photo and the one posted on the web site, you can still see that pleasant and loving smile. He will be missed not only by family and friends but this leaves a huge void in our Class of 1953, Chambersburg High School
Emmett O. Kessinger, Jr.
Classmate and friend

Anonymous said...

Dear Ray... I only met you a few times ( 4 frakasathons in a row, beer and peanuts ;-) but it have had a big impact on, not only my professional life, but also on my life as a human being . I needed another pair of glasses and got them from you... Thanks !

Dear Rays family : We are all a product of our surroundings,so i thank you from my heart for being in Rays life the way you have, making it possible for him to give the world some of the most fantastic and important work in storytelling for generations to come. May the spirit be with you. Ole Jermiin, Denmark

Marilyn and Jack said...

Dear Ray and Sharon and Andrew...
Thanks for being our good pals down at the end of Windom Place. We had so many good times there.
Standing under the pines across from your home to watch the sun go down was an eventide joy.
Academy Awards night was always jolly and festive. You, Ray, sitting so comfy in your wing chair, while old friends picked their favorite flicks to win. Sharon's Hollywood Hills chocolate cake on that first night was memorable...tasted great. Margo was always battling it out with Ray over who the winners would be. We'll call it a draw over the years.
Just dropping into the kitchen or visting with you in the front yard was always worth the walk down Windom. Ray...we never did climb up into Andrew's tree hut like we said we would for a serious discussion about the declining state of television. We"ll do that when we meet again in the great tree house in the sky.
The neighborhood folks will always remember that guy in the shorts with the knobby knees as our hearty group went caroling through the streets of Americcan University Park at Christmas time.
Television was our trade, Ray. You were a master of the craft. Creativity was your trademark. Thanks for your work taking us beyond the ordinary. My students at Loyola see your unique skills when they watch "The Great Campaign of 1960", one of the best political documentaries ever. You even made Teddy White smile with that one.
So old friend...we'll be seeing you down the road again one day when there'll be plenty of time to visit again.
Meanwhile, Ray, from your new camera perch above the galaxy, use that artistry of yours to tune up those sunsets to be even more beautiful. Love from Chicago.
Marilyn and Jack Smith

FernandoPagan said...

It was an honor to be Ray’s neurologist. My first interactions were unusual, as there were 3 cameras’s recording my entire DBS evaluation. After the surgery, and initial programming sessions, I soon learned how special Ray was. He was an advocate for others who were suffering from PD. He always had great care and empathy for our patients, and always wanted them to get the best medical treatments available, so that they too may live a better quality of life. It wasn’t long before I was seeing Ray every week, sometimes 3 times in the same day with three different patients. He was no longer a patient for me, but a colleague and friend. Every time I saw him, I would smile (knowing he had found a new friend that he was bringing for us to help together) and I began greeting him as “Dr. Farkas”. The “friends” that he brought would not only come to see the Georgetown Team, but see Ray and his smile, laughter and compassion.
Over the last year I really missed my Colleague, as he began his battle with colon cancer, and once again I saw him suffer, but he never lost his laughter and love of life. The Georgetown Movement Disorders Team will never forget him, and we will continue to carry out the mission to help improve the quality of life of our patients.
We are better physicians, nurses, residents, medical students and researchers because we had an opportunity to work with Ray. Now he has gone to a better place with no more suffering, but he will continue to influence us on how we treat our patients, and he will continue to educate us about medicine and life. My Thoughts and Prayers are with Ray and his Family…………..Fernando Pagan, M.D.

cturkett said...

I'm so sorry to hear the news about Ray! I, too, am one of the lucky people who have two holes drilled in my head along with all the other hardware necessary for the Deep Brain Stimulation. It was about six months after I had my brain surgery that I read something that Ray had written on the DBS group site on Yahoo. He was "singing" the praises of his surgeon, Chris Kalhorn, but he was also writing about his connections to his friend, Dr. Manjit Sanghera, a neuro-physicist in Dallas. When I realized that he was referring to one of the doctors who had been a part of the team who changed my life, I sent him an email telling him a little bit of my life as a PWP (Person with Parkinsons) and congratulating him on his successful surgery.

How exciting to get a phone call from him later on inviting me to be interviewed for part of his new film, “It Ain’t Television, It’s Brain Surgery.” Such a unique man and he was just as you’ve all described…easily making all of us feel at ease while he sort of “primed the pump” and got us talking about our life since our surgeries. I must be on camera for less than 60 seconds but Ray always made me feel like an important contributor to the film.

The next summer I was in Washington, DC, with my husband and Ray came to the hotel where we were staying to meet my husband and visit for a short while. When he came bounding in with a huge smile on his face and a large box in hand, he loudly greeted us and said, “Here’s something for you and your first grade students! “ It was a game similar to the old game of OPERATION but this game was called BRAIN SURGEON. It’s a game for small children with a rather silly looking character that speaks electronically. He pushed on the lighted red nose of the clown and it began yelling out “encouragements and “gently ribbing” the players of the game. I loved it! I think Ray said he had two games like it (given to him by clever friends) and so he thought I would enjoy sharing it with my kids at school. He was right and that game was a big favorite for the next three years in my classroom on rainy or cold days.

I retired from teaching last year with 25 years behind me--the last four years possible only because I can proudly claim to be “a DBSer.” That wheelchair that I was often teaching from, pre-DBS, was rolled into the attic and I haven’t needed it since that life-changing operation. I’m happy to be a member of the hole-in-the-head gang and enjoy singing the praises of my doctors ,just as Ray enjoyed sharing his experiences with prospective patients and others who just can’t seem to get past that idea of having a couple of holes drilled in their head.

I enjoyed Ray’s sense of humor and his love of life. I hope that I can be a great “encourager” and “demonstrator” for other PWP just as Ray was to so many people. I will always remember Ray’s enthusiasm and his positive attitude. I was blessed by my encounters with Ray. May I be for others what Ray was for many…a positive, enthusiastic well wisher!

Thanks so much for having others write in…I’ve truly enjoyed reading them!

Cheryl Turkett
5006 Parliament Dr.
Arlington Texas 76017

O J said...

Ray taught me more in four hours at the '04 Workshop about journalism than I learned in 4 years of college - and 5 years of professional shooting. The man simply knew how to live life. He was full of humor, sincerity and optimism. Ray's ingenuity literally changed the world of photojournalism. We often refer to our cameras as "idiot magnets" for their effect on interview subjects. Ray was the first to figure out that if we take the camera out of the equation - or at least the consciousness of the subject - the recording becomes more real and in turn, easier for a viewer to connect with on a universal, humanistic level. To Ray's family, you are not only in my thoughts and prayers but those of all in my profession who made contact with him during his remarkable life.

Ray Farkas is a legend - and his legacy shall live on for generations to come.

Thank you Ray!

Noel Cisneros said...

My first encounter with Ray was through a television screen. I was in graduate school in 1987, thinking a lot about storytelling for television, but not quite hitting the right note. One night, alone in my little house in Columbia, Missouri, I was watching "West 57th" and saw "Marriage License Bureau". I stood up in front of my TV, pointed, and shouted in the dark, "That's It!!! That's how it should be done. " Through serendipity and a heavenly wink, an NBC producer friend made his annual phone call to me that week. I told him about "Marriage License Bureau" and what a great piece it was. He said, "You too! Join the club, that's my old friend Ray Farkas." An hour later my phone rings. It's Ray, calling the lowly journalism student with words of wisdom, and big laughs. We talked for 45 minutes. I found his reel in the classroom archives. I made an excuse to go to Washington so I could meet him. We became friends. I loved his phone calls, and still have the gracious note he sent to me when my daughter was born 14 years ago. I loved Ray from the first frame. I'm honored to have known him and counted him as mentor, friend, inspiration and the all out coolest person I know. I will miss Ray so much but I'm comforted in seeing all these notes from people whose lives Ray lit up. Ray, could you please ask God to solve the issue of which is more perfect - "Marriage License Bureau" or "Nashville"?
My love, thoughts and prayers go to you Sharon, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, and Ray's children, whom I never met. Thank you for sharing this wonderful man with us.
Noel Cisneros
ABC7 Reporter
San Francisco

JEFF said...

Ray was a rock star to me that I was fortunate to meet at the Workshop many years ago.
His Farkasthons were mesmerizing. Ray's presentation was a highlight for me every year. You never got tired of seeing Nashville or Marriage Licence. Some of Life's finest moments, captured. Ray captures them like no other!
THIS rockstar performed by sharing his craft to one and all! Ray would go all into night, and into the early morning hours if we didnt have a seminar at 8am the next morning.
His personality and talents live on in my memory and in my work to this day!
His was small in stature but big in his openess to talk about and share his craft!
There is a picture I still have to this day of Ray and I where he is framing me up as a director would, "off center" with his hands! His legacy will live on in me and in all of us!
God Bless you Ray.

Jeff Imperial

Bob L. said...

It's so hard to write something here, because - first - so many people have written so much, and - because it means finally letting go of a friend of 30 years. It feels so fina.

But here are two memories not mentioned.

The first, because it was between us, was when he called after one of my own mag pieces ran (we always did called after our work ran) to say: "I don't know what the piece was about, but I'm sure it was important; it just SEEMED important". What a great critique of a piece that was meaningless compared to his own perceptive work.

The second, Ray looking for a cameraman in a town where he knew no one. He'd call a camera store, rent a camera, and ask whether there was someone working there who could run that camera. The person on the other end of the phone said, "Well, you're with NBC News, you need a news cameraman". "No," Ray would say, "the person doesn't have to be a cameraman, just turn on the camera and I'll take care of the rest". How true.

Washington without Ray seems impossible.

Good Bye Old Friend.

Martin said...

As Ray's occasional -- only when he couldn't avoid it -- lawyer I learned a lot from him. I learned that some clients never listen to their lawyers and somehow manage to succeed. I learned the value of listening to other people and not taking yourself too seriously. I learned that one's inner values were what counted, not the indicia of success. I can remember when Ray was offered the "job" of filming how the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition was made, which would have required him to spend 3 months on a caribbean island during the dead of winter with all those models and would have paid him a rather significant sum of money and he turned it down because it would be "boring"? Although I represent a lot of journalists who certainly qualify as being talented eccentrics, no one was in Ray's league. When, as we all must, leave this earth, the best we can hope for is that we leave behind a better world and as stellar a reputation as Ray did. He will truely be missed.
I'm sorry I won't be able to be at Shiva, but I will certainly there to celebrate Ray's life on the 26th.

Anders said...

I watched "It ain't televsion... it's brain surgery" and was moved deeply. Ray seems like a guy I would have loved to know, maybe even sit down and eat a little chopped liver with. A tremendous film. Thank you for that. I have blogged about it here:

Best wishes-
anders porter

Anonymous said...

Dave Writes

To me, Ray knew what was important in life and never let it get in the way of laughing about it. I worked next door to Ray for five years. We could count on him coming by at 5PM most days with a tray of triscuits with pickle slices covered with melted cheese. I’ve never known someone who loved his toaster oven more.

One more quick tribute to his producing genius and his being far ahead of his time…ten years before the glut of sports talk shows hit cable, Ray had Kornheiser, Wilbon and others in a bar bullshitting about the latest games, stars, you name it. He knew that there was magic and passion surrounding how guys talk about sports. It never became one of his signature works…the people who controlled the airwaves probably couldn’t get past that they’d never seen anything like it.

Stubborn and quirky for sure, I think what God will see is Ray’s kindness. When I heard him on the radio doing PSAs for Parkinsons, it didn’t surprise me to hear him turning a hardship for him into a service to others.

I wish we could have had a camera set far back from heaven’s gate, perhaps some interesting angels in the foreground, a few wireless mikes properly positioned to see and hear Ray take the place by storm.

Kathi said...

It's only just really sunk in just now. Impossible. Ray's just always been there, one of my best friends, and I cannot imagine him gone.

I first met Ray at NBC---hard to believe--about 30 years ago. I don't even remember my job at the time, but for some reason I was just sitting on the couch in the lobby of NBC when this guy walked through, grabbed my hand and said "come with me". I had no idea who he was or where we were going, I just went. Turns out we went to his favorite deli, Wagshall's, and I just gawked in amazement as Ray pointed to the display case and said "I'll take one of these, and one of these, and one of these..". Pretty much one of everything in the deli case. We sat somewhere and ate it all---stuff I'd never even heard of before---and that was the start of a wonderful friendship.

Friendship seems almost too trite a word when it comes to Ray. He just has a way of becoming part of you. There are, of course, a million memories over the years...swinging on the swings at Turtle Park and getting life advice. Sitting in a cemetery getting career advice. Playing tennis---where Ray never moved but somehow had you running all over the court. Shooting "100 Year Olds" in Miami Beach and taking 99 year old Joe for liverwurst and onions where he winked and told Ray he had a girlfriend and "was a man--if you know what I mean". We laughed at that one for years. Gathering at Ray and Sharon's for dinner, or Oscars or burgers in the backyard (Sharon always providing the edible food and always the sane and steady anchor to keep Ray from veering into the wild.) Watching Andrew grow into such a wonderful young man, and knowing his terrific kids Julie, Mark and Danny. (I'll always treasure being part of the Farkas food tour!)

I could go on and on, but if you knew Ray, you know exactly what I mean.

And every time I make a list, with those little square boxes to be checked off, I will think of you, Ray. I'll miss you more than you'll ever know...or maybe you do.

Kathi (aka KK) Paterno Knise

Sean said...

As I scroll through these posts and think of Ray Farkas, a timeless John Sebastian tune that Tom Petty recently gave new life to keeps looping through my head. It’s called “Stories We Could Tell,” and these are the lyrics that reverberate:

“And if you ever wonder why we ride this carousel
We do it for the stories we could tell
Oh, the stories we could tell
And if this all blows up and goes to hell
I can still see us sittin’ on a bed in some hotel
Listening to the stories we could tell”

I met Ray in 1973 when I was a lowly desk assistant at NBC News in Washington. Watergate was raging, but never mind that. Ray and I first connected through my incessant trips to nearby Wagshal’s deli for yummy food for Ray and the rest of the newsroom. During the next six years, as I juggled working at NBC with college at AU, Ray always was one of the coolest guys there. I mean, whether it was seeing a 30-something man playing cards and hanging out with an American icon, David Brinkley, or seeing him wandering around in his storied tennis shorts, I got the sense early on that here was one cool cat. I eventually learned that I was in the midst of genius, too, not just coolness. They no doubt were related.

I regret that I didn’t stay in touch with Ray, but I watched his career from a distance and in my work as a TV reporter, I’ve shamelessly stolen the central lesson his style teaches: namely, that making people comfortable with you is the only way to get them to open up and to reveal their truths on television. You get what you give in this life, and Ray Farkas got a lot because he gave a lot. He gave of himself, which is no small thing. Thanks, Ray, for sharing you with all of us.

Sean Daly

Anonymous said...

The last time I saw Ray he had difficulty speaking, but talk he did about the loves of his life: his children, his friends, his work. As he was talking to me, the front door opened and in walked the love of his life, Sharon. With tears streaming down his cheeks, Ray said Sharon had been the angel of his life especially in these last years.

Now as tears run down the cheeks of those of us who loved Ray, there is some comfort in knowing that Ray knew how much he was loved by his angel -- and by all of us who had the privilege to know him. Mary

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Ray was one of those rare gems in Life who gave more often than requesting for something in return. I am honored to have been in contact with him over the years especially during the production of his DBS film...the start of hope for many...he gave me leads into CBS and ABC freely without any misgivings...A Gem always Shines.

He will be Deeply Missed.


Ellen Rosi said...

I'm still dizzy at the thought of Ray being gone. I've been struggling for the right words, but I see them here in the words of others, who knew him better - I didn't know him that well (I only saw him in the summers during a brief week or so each year at Chautauqua, with Sharon, Andrew and Lucky, and hell, I didn't even know that shorts were a year-round thing!)- but when I think of Ray I think of his eyes.. the twinkle, the curiosity, the way he always listened as if you (or me, or whomever he was talking to) were the most interesting person in the room, his humor, his mischief and his warmth. Couple that with his intelligence and his wit. No wonder he was so good at what he did.. he warmed you with his attention (Ray, I'll NEVER make tapenade without thinking of you - I may have thrown together ingredients listed on the back of a can - but you made me feel like Julia Child-and the best part is, I knew that you were sincere - which was a part of your magic.) You made everyone feel so special and honored by your attention.Because you were funny, and smart, and warm, and curious, and endearing. I"m sorry you're gone..and my heart is with Sharon and Andrew.. and the rest of his loving family and friends. But if our job is to make the world a better place for having been here.. then Ray, you did a hell of a job.

Anonymous said...

ray was not only a greatly gifted producer, he was also a boon companion on the road.

during one of the n.h. primaries he complained about my workaholic
tendencies and said he would handle the next day's schedule.

we started a little earlier and by noon we were in good shape. ray drove us to a shopping mall where we attended a matinee of DOG DAY AFTERNOON.

when we left the theater ray turned to me and said, "there, now don't you feel better?" we made the
feed with plenty of time to spare.

on another shoot, in florida, i was worrying about where to eat and turned to ray for his thoughts.

he replied, "brokaw, you gotta understand my idea of a four star meal is a big mac, a shake and fries eaten while driving."

he was a tennis hustling, pool hustling, gin rummy hustling original - and the most creative producer with whom i ever worked.

he died a man but the boy within will be with us forever.


Anonymous said...

Dear Ray,
I feel blessed to have known you.
You grabbed onto life and lived every moment like no one that I have ever known. You brought smiles to those who forgot how to enjoy.
The heavens must be partying with you there. May we all have the pleasure of being with you again one day.
Love to you and your wonderful family.
Patti Hellmuth

Byron Dorgan said...

It has been inspiring to read the many connections that so many people had to the world of Ray Farkas. Ray was a wonderful, interesting, creative friend who left an indelible mark on the lives of countless people.

Many years ago I met Ray on the tennis court. We were each playing singles for our respective tennis club teams. As I looked across the net and saw Ray, it occurred to me that this match wouldn’t last too long. Ray was standing there wearing an old t-shirt and faded corduroy tennis shorts and it just looked to me like he wasn’t going to be running much.


After I lost the match, Ray and I sat down to visit. He looked at me with a mischievous smile and said “What’s it feel like to lose a tennis match to a guy that looks like I do?”

That was a start of a wonderful friendship that spanned many hours on the tennis court over many years. We talked about the television news business, about politics, and family.

And then one day he showed me the video of “Nashville” and I was hooked on the huge talent that was Ray Farkas’ career.

I knew two things about Ray for sure. First, he loved his family. And second, he loved his work. And judging by the memories he left all of us, his life will long outlive the richly fulfilling time he spent with us here.

Anonymous said...

wow, I'm behind, just finding this out now. ...but, if i can in my story today, I'm shooting a really far away interview as a tribute today. Thanks Farkas, for being an inspiration, even though I've never actually met you.

John Kavanaugh said...

finally got to meet and work with Ray on one his last shoots of “Interview 50 Cents”. For me it was an honor. And a delight!
I got to witness old friends and family pursuing their art in the most unassuming and natural way. And we got to make some magic along the way.
On location, Bob Peterson, one of his long time cameramen, pushed Ray around in his wheelchair covering the 180 degree arc. Ray looked, he studied, he discussed and with some argument, some jokes, some cajoling, Ray proceeded to ignore most of the good natured suggestions as he pronounced, then marked, the perfect spots for the cameras by locking down the wheels on his chair. Of course no question, they were perfect; each spot allowed just enough view of the subjects, each offered plenty of cinematic foreground and each had opportunities for a glint in the background, or a revolving door that showed a busy world going by as Ray and host Alex Chadwick took the time to stop and listen. We stayed in those positions for the rest of the day as people walked up and unfolded their lives before our eyes and into our ears.
Like the maestro he was Ray was lifted into a makeshift control room in the back of the truck and thru the buzz of headsets the production came alive. Then, we not only heard these simple, amazing stories, but we got Ray’s running commentary on the lives in front of us, his jokes, politics, family, friends, the world, you name it. It was Farkas creating a classic.
All the while Ray was throwing out questions that were being run up to Alex, some poignant, some just outrageous. But, each would propel the storyteller forward and most seemed to reveal some new or interesting twist that was just waiting to be uncovered, that Ray was honing in on.
For me it was a great couple of days. This was the way tv should be made. In a way it was a family affair, Ray’s son Mark was there , (who I still owe my Beatles story), and most of the crew had worked with Ray for 20 to 30 years. It was kind of like a Homecoming. The respect and banter going back and forth was that of long time and well trusted friends, incredible to witness.
That was the way it was on a gorgeous fall weekend. This frail man was orchestrating a piece that would touch and resonate with thousands and it was done as a matter of course, not a false moment, all parts of the shoot were real life in full bloom and it was much fun. I was thrilled to be a part of!
And it was two days of some of the best crew lunches I ever ate!
The best to you my friend. My very best to his family, too.
John Kavanaugh

Gary Meyers said...

Geez, I remember Ray when I started working for America's Most Wanted before it went Nationwide and FOX was a fledgling network. He established a look for the show that to this day many people have tried to duplicate but could never accomplish. It's one of the few things I will forever remember about Ray. His style, demeanor and sense of humor under any circumstance. 21 years later I would still run into him in the hallways wishing I could edit something of his... anything, just to be a part of vision.

I will forever admire the man for who he was and his unique way of telling a story. Someone to look up to. Ray I will miss you. God bless.

Gary Meyers

Anonymous said...

What a loss!!!! I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Ray in the 80's doing magazine pieces for NBC news without a correspondent (unheard of then) guiding you through the piece. He shaped my photographic vision for the rest of my life. When Ray left the network the downward spiral began and has not stopped! Ray I will miss your friendship, humor, those great food feasts. Farewell my friend, you will never be out of my thoughts, my hope when we meet again is that we can work together again!

Love, George Fridrich

Anonymous said...

I never met Ray but I got to know his sons, Mark & Danny, through my brother. After reading these incredible stories, I better understand the Farkus boys and now know where they draw their talent, humor, inspiration and committment to others and love of life. What awesome gifts for a father to give his children.

All of you are in my prayers.

John Reilly

terry said...

ray was the kindest, most-talented, most generous person i met and worked with in television. and sharon, what a perfect partner you were to him. always. i so wish i had seen you both, these last years. i send all my love and admiration.

terry schaefer

terry said...

ray was the kindest, most-talented, most generous person i met and worked with in television. and sharon, what a perfect partner you were to him. always. i so wish i had seen you both, these last years. i send all my love and admiration.

terry schaefer

ahmed said...

may God bless his soul in heavens , and give his family and all his lovers all the patience . he was a great man , from what i ve just read about him , he did alot and he was realy an excellent man that all people cannot forget him.
ahmed abdulhaleem ,,,a tv anchor from alhurra tv in springfield , va

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ray was to me, the father of two of my best friends Danny and Mark,he was a mentor and a friend. I had the honor to work with Ray on a few of his productions. My favorite was the brain surgery at Georgetown. Danny and Mark ran two of the cameras, they were head on to their Dad and the doctors. I ran a third camera that showed the doctors cutting into Rays head. Ray approached his operation as a producer and not a patient, he was conferring with Bob Peterson about camera angles and the technical setup of the shoot while the doctors and nurses prepared him for the surgery. At one point he had all the doctors, nurses and staff singing with him "If I only had a brain". He approached this surgery with a cool hand, like he was going to play tennis. He is one of the bravest men that I have met.

"They say you can't take it with you, but I think that they're wrong, cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone,
Gone into that dark ether where your still young and hard and cold
Just like when they built you, brother , they broke the mold."
B. Springsteen

Ray you will be missed.
But not forgotten.

Bob Reilly

Allen said...

I just found out about this on another site where there's a nice tribute about him:

His style was a great influence on me in the early 90's. I was working in Nashville at the time and I still remember the story he did about area people who were also songwriters. Anyone who has seen that story can remember the woman at the Avis counter singing.

I moved from Nashville in the mid-90's and would see her there at the counter when I made return trips through the Nashville airport and would always think of the Ray Farkas story. Finally, this past December I rented a car from Avis and she was the agent that handled me. I told her I remembered her from that story and she was flattered.

Several years ago I found an email address for Ray and wrote him. He asked me to send a tape to critique my work. I'm sorry now that I never got around to it.

Allen Reid
Houston, TX

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna put on some shorts and eat a Bomb Burger.

I sure do miss Ray.

Anonymous said...

I'm walking out the door to the Celebration of Your Life Ray and damn it would be so much easier if you were going to be there...I miss you already...

angrylittleburrito said...

Ray was kind enough to see a stranger like me for advice. Not only did Ray take me in and apologize profusely for being late, but we hung out all afternoon and talked about his movies. Then I realized I knew Danny, his son. Ray picked up the phone and it was like I was family. I'll miss you Ray, thank you so much.


Anonymous said...

We said goodbye to Ray today--we said goodbye. Thank you to all of Ray's family for allowing us to share in their celebration of his life. It is greatly appreciated that you allowed us to laugh, feel sadness and be a part of your lives.

Thank you.

bob k

Gregory said...

Ray, I wanted to work with you, but you said no.

Ray explained that he preferred to work with cameramen that he found in the yellow pages. That way he could get the most up to date equipment and tell the videographer to lock off the camera and step away from the tripod.

I only met Ray a couple of times. Mostly while we were all working for W57th Street at CBS.

Everything written here by others is so compelling there's nothing more to say other than... Ray, you had style and grace that is so rare in television today.

Godspeed, Ray and my condolences to your family.

Gregory Andracke, NYC

Eric Blumer said...

To Ray's family,

My condolences on your loss.
I did not know Ray personally.
But I knew his work. It was creative and compelling.
The content was strong.

He worked for viewers... like me. His talent was meant to be seen and appreciated. His stories were produced to benefit society.

As a professional video journalist I was also inspired and motivated to stretch the limits of the frame. And think deeper - visually and intellectually.

- Eric Blumer

DPTomWells said...

I had the opportunity to work with Ray last summer on a segment for AMW. As impressive as his skill and creativity were, what impacted me even more was his determination and passion for his work. He was obviously very sick during the shoot but refused to give in. A true artist and inspiration to anyone who met him.

ksev said...

Dear Ray,

I too will miss you for many reasons. For example, because your attitude toward biking was similar to mine, you made my refusal to bike over hilly terrain or in less than perfect weather seem less like pure orneriness and more like sensible behavior (and importantly, riding with you in the follow car provided maximum fun and minimum exertion.) I could always use you as a gauge for predicting who would NOT win political contests (you were wrong at least 90 % of the time because you always overestimated the intelligence of the voters). You took it as a compliment when I told you that -- though beautifully produced, shot, and edited -- your Doug Kiker piece on Sheriff Cantrell of Wyoming was misleading because it didn’t point out that Cantrell was being tried for murder. And, because you laughed at my lame jokes and always seemed glad to see me, you made me feel better about myself.

What a guy! What a great guy!


Wallace Westfeldt said...

When I sat down to write about Ray, I had difficulty putting words to paper. A half an hour went by and still I had not produced one single word.

Why? The answer is very simple.

Why try and describe the indescribable?

Ray was too large a figure to be stamped into a profile by a few words on paper like something out of a cookie cutter.

There was no mold for him and for that I say Thank God!

He was a brilliant man, not just a brilliant producer. We all know he was that, but he was much more than that.

He had a remarkable capacity for managing management!

A case in point, a documentary we produced titled "The Meaning of Watergate." I assigned Ray the task of handling the closing segment of the report within five minutes. What's more, he had to put it together out of stock footage. News management wanted the entire show on tape so it could be rolled into the network on time. This was a rush job and we had only three hours to taping time

After screening as much footage as he could, Ray had decided he would probably need more than five minutes because he wanted, I repeat the words he wanted, to do the closer without narration and without a correspondent. His story would be self contained, all sound on tape.

So he went to work. I went to the editing room to reinforce to him the time problem. He said he would do his best, but he would probably need at least another minute. I said no, I did not have another minute to give him.

Reuven Frank (otherwise known as White Fang) was in the control room seated next to me. He seemed a bit nervous. He told me later he was nervous. He said he had heard about Ray's work, had seen the finished product, but knew nothing about his work habits.

I said he did not need to worry. Ray would come in at the last minute and if his history was any guide, he would have with him a story well worth waiting for.

It was worth it. The pictures have been seen and seen time again .

Ray sat next to me as the story unfolded on the screen. Each time a subject or person changed there was a moment of silence. A silence shattered by the sound of a gavel crashing down on the table in front of the chairman. The sound became Ray's signal that something new was next.

He did so many stories brilliantly: the Eisenhower funeral train, Navy test pilots, a Saturday in the life of a little Ohio town, Pablo Casals and the visit of Pope John Paul
to Philadelphia.

The funeral train skillfully intercut pictures shot from the top of a speeding train with mourners watching the train go by.

The test pilots was a study in how to use light to keep the audience focus on the person talking.

The Ohio town was pure Americana.

Casals showed a Farkas as interested in his concept of music as was Casals .

The Pope's visit showed Ray at his journalistic best. Anticipating things would not go according to schedule, he placed himself and his camera in just the right place to capture the anger of the local priest and the tearful disappointment of the parochial school children as the Pope whisked by, a limp handed wave his only acknowledgment of their presence.

Ray loved to gamble, to take a chance. That was common knowledge. But few knew that he used NBC News as the underwriter for his adventures in Puerto Rico or Las Vegas.

He had one flaw.

The sum of all his parts was much larger than the whole.

I will leave the rest of the memories in my mind to cherish for years to come.

Wallace Westfeldt

Sharon, Ray's wife said...

Ray’s Celebration of Life – 1/26/08

This is in essence what I remember saying…as I looked out at a sea of people who came from around the country to soak up the vestiges of Ray’s passion.

This is Ray’s dream. This is what he loved.

…Being surrounded by friends & fans

…a captive audience watching his video full screen

….Andrew playing piano somewhere in the background

….and plenty of chopped liver in the parlor.

I feel like Ray’s here with us today, staring down from the window behind me …with that sublime smile, watching these moments unfold.

We all know Ray had a way of creating moments. Those of you who worked with him …or played with him… You remember a moment… maybe scores of moments come to mind… But a few stay with you.

You may remember more details than you’d expect. Or something you revealed that surprised you. Ray seemed to contribute only a few words… but somehow, curiously, …he opened us up to ourselves.

I watched him do this time and time again… in random encounters. You saw it on the blog…in the hundred postings when people described their moments with Ray.

We loved Ray. And the eclectic people who followed him… who fill this room today.

During the past year, as Ray refused to give himself up to cancer or chemo… You followed him – scores of people -- visiting us at home and in the hospital – bringing food… from Bambu sushi to McDonalds shakes…. Throwing parties in his room… while the nurses looked the other way… or joined in… cajoled by Ray’s humor.

You brought us moments to make life bearable for Ray …and for me.

There were family moments… I remember one night last year when Mark, Julie, Danny and all 7 grandchildren came over, and Andrew set up the Wii so we could play virtual tennis in the living room. We were overexerting ourselves jumping around trying to hit a ball, …and Ray just sat back in the wingback, making an occasional stroke and beating us all.

When Ray lost his appetite due to the chemo, it was Linda, Ray’s first wife who, as a nurse, convinced him with her authority… that the vile tasting liquid he was cursing at …would actually make him hungry again. And that helped for awhile to keep his weight on and his spirits up.

And there were tender moments with Joe Sotille, Ray’s surrogate son and protégé… who’s here in the wings keeping us on cue… He did the same for Ray …handling the details of his work during those painful weeks before Christmas …to launch the last segments of Interviews 50 cents… Ray’s signature work with Alex Chadwick… which you’ll see a bit of today.

Andrew and Ray had their moments too – one became an annual rite of passage… when Ray would pull Andrew out of school for the pre-Preakness race… to educate him in the ways of the track. Andrew managed to calculate a mathematical formula for winning Trifectas…. And left the track with over $400 on $2 bets. That was one of Ray’s proudest educational moments.

Ray and I shared our moments… when we would often look at Andrew…and decide it must have been divine intervention that threw the two of us in the same orbit…despite our differences… so that we could give birth to Andrew… and love him together as became the person he is. Those kind of moments filled our lives.

And a last poignant moment… when Andrew, three weeks ago this morning… just after Ray passed away, sadly and lovingly put up the blog for Ray…to give all of us a way to keep our moments with him alive.

In life…and now in death…. we’re here to celebrate with Ray. And re-live the colorful moments he stirred up in us…

(though I had a few more thoughts… Andrew decided I’d said enough and gone over the pre-set time limit. He began playing piano… the cue to rambling speakers. I took the hint.)

Clearly my moment is up!

I’m once again being big-footed by Ray… and his larger than life self...

(To Video: “Big Ray – On Screen”)

Anonymous said...

I've changed the ringtone on my cell phone to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Don Critchfield

Zina said...

I remember sharing the joy of your home when I babysat for Andrew. Jeff - my then boyfriend, now husband - worked with Ray on some projects as an intern. It was a fun and exciting learning experience. Ray was a great mentor.

Our prayers are with you and the rest of Ray's family.

p.s. We have two little boys now. Our oldest is the same age Andrew was when I babysat him.

Anonymous said...

Sending you affection, sweet woman

Fred Shook said...

I studied Ray's work from the mid-1980s onward. His stories and the people in them still play in my mind.

A few days ago, I talked with a Dallas photographer who was en route to shoot album covers in Nashville. "You have to watch Ray Farkas' story about Nashville," I told him. He did. The story let him see Nashville through fresh eyes and approach his assignment with greater insight and originality.

Ray taught us all, and through the legacy of his work he keeps on teaching.

Milton Partain said...

I knew Ray in late 1959 and early 1960 at Ft. Sam Houston , TX . We were training to be Army medics and spent a great amount of off time playing poker . During long boring classes we sat across the aisle from each other and played hangman , each trying to come up with unguessable words . Ray was responsible for my first taste of bagels and lox at the Jewish USO and changed my name to Milton Bloom in an attempt to pass as Jewish . I really doubt that the nice ladies at the USO believed that a redneck from East Texas was Jewish . We lost contact a year or so after leaving Ft. Sam but I never forgot what a great Army buddy Ray was . My sympathy to his family and friends , I did not know he had gone to that eternal poker game until now .

Milton Partain
Splendora , TX
September 26 , 2008

Ehrbar said...

I'm so sorry to learn of Ray's passing so long after it happened...

We thought of Ray this last week. My dad, Neal, was having his second DBS surgery for Parkinson's. He had heard about Ray's story through one of his doctors.

I had never heard of Ray, but took a chance, tracked down his phone number and left him a voicemail message. I told him that my dad was having DBS surgery soon, and thought I'd see if there was any chance he would talk to my dad - just to give him a perspective on what it was like to go through the surgery, and what kind of impact it might have on his life.

Ray called me back within 20 minutes, and graciously called and made friends with my dad. He shared his experience living with Parkinson's, and gave him the lowdown on his own results from the surgery.

Ray's words gave comfort to my dad as well as our whole family, who was nervous to see him go through such a procedure. Soon after the surgery, Ray called to check up on my dad to see how everything went. Ray was so kind and genuinely cared what happened to him.

Three years later, just last week, my dad had his second DBS stimulator implanted. I told my dad I was going to give Ray a call to check in, and to let him know how my dad was doing. Sadly, I came upon the news of Ray's passing. I'm sorry we hadn't kept in better touch, but I wanted all of his family and friends to know that his kind words and generous nature lent great comfort to a fellow Parkinson's patient and his family when they needed it most.

My best wishes to you all,
~Pam Ehrbar

Anonymous said...

Just a quick story, I did not know Ray with the exception of a telephone call, a few emails, and his willingness to look over my demo reel and to give me his constructive criticism. What he told me and the few pointers he gave me helped me bring my career as a shooter to the next level, and now I have gone from a small market shooter to working in a top ten market. His distinctive shooting style and ability to connect with his stories inspired me to try harder and to think outside the box. Thank-you Ray, you made a difference in my life.

-Barry Littlefield

Jason said...

I know this is about a year late, but on behalf of the Oremland family, I'd like to pass along our deepest sympathies.

Ray was definitely one of a kind.

-Jason, Ryan, Evan, and Bev Oremland

changamire said...

i was googling ray to get his address to mail him an invitation. this is very sad news.

in 2005 or 06, ray used my husband's song, "come to washington", to open the first episode of "Metropolitan Edition" on DC's ABC 7. during the shooting of my husband performing the song on the streets of adams morgan (ray's idea), i saw ray as the most kindest man ever.

all the best to the people around him that had something to do with him being that way.


Anonymous said...

Ray was such a great talent. His pieces were amazing. He was also fun to work with on the Diamond Life video. Will this ever be available for sale on DVD? Dodger faithful would be willing to purchase this.

Brad Shapiro said...

I had the privilege of shooting for Ray on a few pieces. An hour in to the first shoot I knew I was with a very different, unusual talent. With Ray I used the 2x extender more than the previous 10 years. The careful framing, foreground action, long lens and unusual angles made for pieces that must have been on lots of reels. In fact you had to watch it, you could get "Farkasized" after working with him. You'd end up having other less visionary directors ask you what the hell you were doing when you framed up similar shots. If you got to work with Ray in your career you were lucky.

Anonymous said...

The MLB channel should televise Diamond Life. It really provides an insight into minor league baseball that is rarely, if ever, seen. Ray's portrayal allows the viewer to "be there". Wonder if MLB ever considered putting this on air?

Michelle Escobar said...

I will always remember Mr. Farkas' smile, and shiny outlook to life. He was a loving husband,father and person. I remember the yummy lamb he would prepare, and how much I enjoyed digging in. I thank Mr. Farkas, and Sharon for always being such beautiful people, and will cherish Mr. Farkas in my heart as long as I live.

Michelle Escobar

David said...

I met Ray at CBS 30 years ago when I was just starting out as a producer. His work was so different from everything I'd seen. It was formal, simple, emotional, personal and esthetically beautiful in a way no one else was attempting. Ray's pieces were small films rather than TV stories. I remember seeing one on CBS Street Stories and being blown away. I found others in the CBS archives and was equally overwhelmed. I got his phone number and called to say how much I loved his work. He was very cordial and supportive. Over the years I've kept his example in mind, that you can make something that qualifies as TV yet far exceeds the norm, although have never come near to achieving that myself. I was just searching for Ray on the internet today and discovered Ray's no longer among us. Although I didn't really know him I feel a great loss. Thank you Ray for what you gave us.