Tuesday, May 25, 2010

By Bob Aldrich

I wasn’t going to write anything about the loss of Raymond Lieberman until I realized the absence of a note from me might be considered indifference. Such is not the case as he was one of the closest friends I ever had in my lifetime.

We met at age nine when his parents came with him to my house for a Wear Ever Aluminum dinner party with all the foods provided by the salesman and cooked, of course, by him in this new fangled way (1932). The dinner was successful in that a few pots of cookware were eventually sold. My meeting Raymond was not. I hated him. He was “spoiled” by all standards, dominating and just plain obnoxious. This “cool” period continued for several years until we met in junior high and became tolerant of each other.

It wasn’t until the tenth grade when Adrian had built a new high school with an enormous swimming pool (25 yards long!) that we became friends officially since we were on the swimming team. He did freestyle and I did backstroke and became the diver on the team. The Liebermans had a cottage on Devil’s Lake and we had one on an adjoining lake, so we grew up summering “at the Lake,” where everyone knew everyone.

After practice during swimming season we would walk toward home down Church Street and separate with Raymond going north and I going south on Main Street. These walks became great fun as Raymond had vivid imaginations and was a wonderful source of laughter.
He was the first one in our gang to get a driver’s license and since his father ran a shoe store downtown, his family car was available until the store closed at about 6 p.m. His father was most generous in letting Raymond use it, too. And with gas at 19.5 cents per gallon, we could use it! (It was always full as I remember.) If we needed more (it did occasionally), we headed for Joe Scholter’s station where “gyp” gas was 14.2 cents per gallon. We’d take up a collection to get a gallon or two.

When John Wood graduated and started college (at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor) we would occasionally find some excuse to visit him. We were still in high school. It was only 40 miles away. The aura and excitement of Ann Arbor was stimulating to us all.

Jack Wood (John’s brother) and I decided to try to go the U of M and were accepted. Raymond went to the University of Iowa at Iowa City. So, in September, 1941, we set off for college. Then, Raymond and I started a letter writing exchange that further sealed our friendship (How I wish I still had his letters).

Three months later (Dec. 7, 1941), World War II began and eventually involved us all. Raymond and I continued to write. In the summer of 1942, we worked in war factories, Raymond and Tom (a mutual friend) in Kewaunee Manufacturing Company. I got a job in Fort Wayne, Ind., with my dad making material for the British was effort.

Eventually, we all joined the Army in some capacity. Raymond’s brother was killed in the Naval Air Corps in Corpus Christi, Texas, early in the war. It was a very difficult time for Raymond’s parents as well as for him. Raymond was in training to become a bombardier and even sent me detailed plans of the high altitude Norden Bomb Sight. (When I was in the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War, I went to an Air Power demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and saw the air crew do its job from 35,000 feet. I’m still impressed.)

After the war, Raymond’s parents retired and moved to Florida but soon decided to move on to California and settled in Burbank. Raymond joined them there and entered USC and again after going to Paris to work for the Marshall Plan and then worked in New York City as a writer. Katie and I benefitted by his stopping in Michigan coming and going! He had the great opportunity of watching our kids grow and grow and grow. Our Raymond didn’t arrive until 1968 when I was 45! We built the family home in 1959 so Big Raymond had the entire lower level with great space for visits anytime. They were annual events. Sometimes more.

We met in Europe several times: in London; for travel in Portugal and Spain; in Greece and to Crete and sailing the Aegean – one of the greatest trips of our lives! My favorite photo is one of these two hicks from Adrian, Mich., standing in front of the Parthenon in Athens.

And, finally, the best part of knowing Raymond was being introduced to his friends who became ours as well: Terry, Chuck, Marianne, Louise, Mickey, Edith, Bob Chapman and many others. He enlarged our lives with museums, music, opera, theater and countless other cultural pursuits. He expanded our senses, made us laugh and loved our kids (which was “reciprocated”).

We’ll miss him severely. May God bless him always.

Note from Kate Aldrich:
How can I condense the adventures we have had in our 62 years of friendship into a few paragraphs? The answer is I can’t. Life will be different now, not as interesting, not as challenging and probably, never again as much fun!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Raymond Story...

Please share your Raymond story here by clicking on the "comments" link and submitting your story. Once we receive, we will approve and post. Thank you and we hope you enjoy all the wonderful stories.

By Ray Aldrich

You all know him as “Raymond,” but for me, he was always, “Big Raymond.” You see, we share a name and for as long as I’ve been around, I’ve only known him by that moniker. This, of course, implied that I was referred to as “Little Raymond,” which made sense in the early years. It eliminated confusion when he would visit and the two of us were under one roof. At some point, I chose to be called, “Ray,” which worked with new people I met and still works today in my adult life. But, when I started going by “Ray,” Raymond never followed along, always referring to me in the long form. I think he felt it was a little cheap and inelegant than the full, two syllable name. For me, it was a point of differentiation and marked my independence.
He was pleased when I informed him that I thought I had figured out what our name meant. “King of the world,” I said with great confidence. I was completely wrong. I thought of “Ray” in terms of king (Rey in Spanish) and “mond” as in le monde (French for world). Raymond is, in fact, from Germanic origin, from the name “Reginmund,” composed of the elements ragin ("counselor") and mund ("protector").

To be sure, there are no two better words to describe my friend Raymond than a counselor and protector. He was my first true friend who was deeply interested to know about everything I was doing, why I was doing it and with whom. In my teen days, I referred to outings with girlfriends as “going out with them.” He wanted details and “them” would not satisfy him for a moment. Over time, our relationship grew and I found ways to counsel him as much as he counseled me.

Of course, one of my ways of helping him was through the many hours of computer technical support. It’s my fault, I guess. I encouraged him to get a computer. When I lived in Los Angeles, I remember countless times when I would venture up the hill to his house for “one small issue” that would lead to a marathon work session. Printing his spreadsheets for his taxes proved consistently a challenge. Raymond was so detail-focused and had to have every column lined up perfectly on every single page. I’ve always been a patient person, but Raymond, at times, pushed very hard against my reserves. But, he always appreciated my help and thanked me profusely. It wasn’t until later that I grasped the depth of his tenacity and passion for getting things perfect. He hated anything not in its place or any piece out of alignment or any modifier dangling. Hopefully, anyone? (The debate on this word rages on.)

For me, it has been a wonderful life to have had Raymond in it. I’ve always called him my adopted uncle, which probably undersells our relationship, but to the outsider, was easy to digest. Since his death, I can’t go a day without running across something he would love to talk about. A new techie gadget, a new movie or especially, a good joke. Raymond and laughter were inseparable and will forever inspire me to use my sense of humor to make life better for those around me.
When my six-year-old son, Turner Raymond Aldrich, heard of Raymond’s passing, he told me he had hoped to get a picture of the three of us. “You know, little Raymond (himself), medium Raymond (me) and big Raymond together.” I told him that would be very nice and that, if he wanted, he could call himself, “T. Raymond Aldrich.” Only time will tell if he takes this on, but I know we will both be better having Raymond with us wherever we go. My name is Raymond Louis Aldrich.

By Mimi (Aldrich) West

I lit a candle in memory of Raymond in a church adjacent to Piazza Navona in early May. This seemed appropriate as it was Raymond who insisted I go there on my first visit to Rome over 25 years ago to eat Nocciola ice cream at Tre Scalini. He often 'instructed' me in the finer things in life, and as usual, he was right. There isn't any finer ice cream.

Indeed, his enthusiasm for travel and European countries was infectious. As was his mastery of the New York Times' crossword puzzles, or his love of any book by Jane Austen or Willa Cather, these, too, rubbed off on those of us who spent time with him. Eventually, I had time to do the crossword and to read Willa Cather, and again he was right. And I told him so.

Raymond never was one to accept the pat response or give a polite evasion. He saw you as you were, not as you wanted to be seen. He gave me the courage to see that difference, not only in myself but in others.

I'm a richer and more genuine person for having known and loved him.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

By Bonnie and Arnold Hano

The three of us all worked at Magazine Management, on the fourteenth floor of the Empire State Building. Bonnie and Arnold had been at Magazine Management since 1949; Raymond arrived two years later.

Magazine Management was a compendium of mediocrity, run by Martin Goodman, a former hobo who became a millionaire by copying good stuff and imitating it. And doing it all on the cheap. Goodman prided himself for paying Mickey Spillane an eighth of a cent a word for Spillane’s early pulp short stories. This translates to five dollars for a 4,000-word piece. Arnold ran Goodman’s paperbacks, Lion Books. Bonnie became the production manager of the comic book line, headed by Goodman’s nephew Stan Lee. Raymond came along, a breath of fresh air in dingy sharp elbowed Manhattan. His first job was in the mailroom, which he handled adroitly, a handsome son of sunny California. Soon Bessie Little, who ran the fan magazines and confessions, brought Raymond to her side.

The three of us found common ground. We had an apartment with a kitchenette, the size of a phone booth. Raymond joined us for frequent suppers. Arnold believes we ate standing up. Or we ate at Raymond’s place, dark and dank, with sharp corners you needed a white cane to traverse safely. And the smell of his cat’s litter box permeated all. This was Manhattan more than a half century ago. This was also the time of Martini lunches. All the editors would go out in search of the biggest Martini. . We drank Martnis every Friday noon and came back to work slight sloggered. All but Raymond who was his usual teetotaling self. And his thrifty self. When the check arrived, it was divided by the number of us at the table. “I didn’t have a drink,” he would grouse and rightfully so. But he had to pay for our drinking.

For a variety of reasons we three all quit Magazine Management. Bonnie and Arnold had a baby; Arnold felt he could freelance anywhere. So we set out for who knows where and ended up in Laguna Beach, a place we had never heard of. We had a three bedroom house and a large lot, spitting distance from the Pacific for $85 a month. Raymond followed us soon after, returning to LA where he landed a job as an editor which pleased Arnold who was always looking for magazine assignments. “I’ll write for you,” Arnold said.” “No, you won’t,” Raymond said,. “You won’t want to write for these magazines.” Arnold thought that was nonsense and asked for copies of the magazine. When Raymond brought them, we were both appalled and asked how he could possibly think that Arnold would consider writing for them. “You asked,” Raymond said, and that was the truth. And then we discovered mutual friends. Soon after we moved to Laguna, we had met Tom and Ulla Hubble (of the Hubble telescope family) who turned out to be old friends of Raymond from the time the three of them met while living in Paris . So when Raymond came to visit us in Laguna, we often met with the Hubbels.

We went frequently to Hollywood where Bonnie’s mother, out of Sioux City , Iowa , was spending her last years. After a visit we would meet with Raymond and sometimes the Howards joined us for a supper at different ethnic restaurant, which Raymond categorized as the Hanos’ poison pits. These were the best of times. We would drive up to Hollywood to see Mama and then visit Raymond; he would drive down to see us. And cheap as Raymond was, he also had music in LA, where we all would sit in the best seats to the glorious sounds of Beethoven or Brahms or others of that wonderful time long before dissonance took over the world of sound.

We went with Raymond and the Howards to the David Hockney staged production of Tristan and Isolde. Mickey Howard leaned over and said, “You have to agree, the Nazi bastard could write.’ And we had to agree. Age caught up with us. Hospital time intruded. We lived off the phone. Bonnie and Raymond had great long conversations. And at the end, when Raymond knew it was over, he said to Bonnie, ”Tell your husband, ‘You son of a bitch, you’ve outlived me’” So it goes. So it went. He was special. A young man who never became an old man. Bonnie’s addendum: I’m just terribly sorry that I didn’t get to say goodbye to Raymond in person. I really loved him.

Jane Aldrich-Bohne said...

Raymond Lieberman, a.k.a., Big Raymond, English Teacher, Raywan Liberwax, Rx, The Great Wordsman. No matter what you called him, he will always remain one of the most influencial people in my life.

As a child he taught me how to stand up for myself and as a young adult-how remain calm under pressure. He could always come up with snappy comebacks-that you wished you had been clever enough to have thought of in the first place.
Raymond shared millions of words of wisdom through the years and taught us many inventive ways to use words like: schlep, kvetch and blivet. Oy!

As a true wordsmith, he was never a man to mince them. I remember the time I came home from college thinking that smoking cigarettes seemed like a good idea. I lit one up on the porch in front of him-trying to look cool. He looked at me, calmly watched me puff on it, and then yelled--for all the neighbors to hear, "Are you out of your f_cking mind?!" No one else could be that blunt and to the point. Right?

Raymond was my third parent and my closest confidante. What mattered to me-mattered to him. That's what you call a true friend. He always knew what to say when you had a problem; were feeling down, or just needed a good laugh. And let's face it, there was no one who enjoyed a joke or good story more than Rx. If the Aldrich family put their heads together right now, we could probably come up with 1,000 classic jokes, limericks and stories that were told and retold with zeal and relish, by Mr. Lieberman. I miss hearing his laugh so much.

What about the wide net he cast that allowed you to meet and get to know some of the most interesting and talented people in the world? Without Raymond, we never would have met and fallen in love with Terry & Chuck, Marianne, Mickey & Edith, Louise and Caroline, Fred & Patricia and sweet Shelia. His friends became your friends. What a gift!

There will never be another man like Raymond Lieberman. I consider myself one of the luckiest people on the planet to have known him, vacationed with him, laughed with him, chowed-down with him, watched movies with him, debated with him, got ticked off with him and loved him for 54 incredible years.

I miss him so much...and always will.

"Good-night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

By Shirley Engel

The Lieberman family and my family were part of the Adrian, Michigan, small Jewish community. My family moved to Los Angeles in 1941;the Liebermans came after WWII. Since Raymond was seven years older than I, I really did not know him as a child, but after his family came to LA, we became fast friends.

Raymond had started USC where he majored in International Relations. I was a student at UCLA. The world was emerging from the horrors of the war, and the future was bright and exciting. We were going to change the world with our innocence of youth and new ideas. I had never met anyone quite like Raymond. He was an iconoclast who shared my views. We could talk about anything. Always witty, always direct, he would sometimes say the most outrageous things. We would see each other often. He loved movies, and introduced me to the art of watching them. Of course, we always went dutch, but we were just students.

Raymond wanted to see the world. He had year at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. We exchanged letters often. When he returned to LA, we resumed our old activities until he left to live in France. We still kept in contact, but our lives changed. I married my husband, and our contact ended. I have not seen Raymond for almost 60 years when I saw his obituary in the LA Times. I remember him vividly with pleasure. He was an experience I will not forget. He was an important part of my life.

By Julie Downey

I met Raymond in the mid '60's when we were both working at a magazine affectionately called "the nudie lewdies." I was really a high school English teacher looking for some extra earnings during the summer vacation so that my husband and I could extend our planned trip to Europe. Raymond was really certainly something other than a writer/editor of those tacky little rags. He was so smart and cultured he was destined to leave that grimy underground business, but where would he end up? Who knew he'd end up teaching special ed for LAUSD?

I think I helped get Raymond his job at Widney because when I returned from an extended trip to Europe, I substitute taught there and developed some contacts with the district. In any event, whether I really helped him get that job or not, Raymond seemed to appreciate me and seek my company. I always felt I had to work hard to keep up with him. I could never slide by, saying I had seen "Cosi" for example and enjoyed it. He wanted details: who sang what role, how was it staged, etc. Recently I tried to get him to join me at the Opera at the Movies Series, but he had an objection, in detail, to each opera included in the program. He could have won a bundle on Jeopardy if the subjects were all the fine arts.

(About that trip to Europe, Raymond joined my then husband, Ken and Jim and Marlene Henerson and me on parts of that trip. I'll leave the Raymond in Europe stories to Jim Henerson who has ample detail and samples of Raymond at his best and worst with which to regale you.)

When we returned from Europe, our lives took separate routes, other than a Chinese lunch downtown at Yang Chow where he chastised me for eating off the plate without first wiping it. We lost touch for several years, until last June he read about my ex husband Ken's death and joined us at a memorial gathering in his honor. It was in these last 6 months that we renewed our connection. Sadly all we had time for was one Chinese and one Japanese lunch and a few phone conversations in these last few months.

Although we talked about going to the movies, theater, music, whatever was of interest, we never put it together before he went through this last period off illness, hospitals and convalescent homes. I spoke with him last when he was returning home from the care facility. He promised to call me as soon as he felt up to an outing. I was still waiting for that call when we learned from Louise of his passing. He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

By Marianne Muellerleile

Memories of Raymond Lieberman

August 9, 1923 -March 3, 2010

Raymond always said he met me when I arrived at Terry's trailer one MBT night wearing sorely patched overalls, a man's military coat and caring a plate of warm, marbleized brownies.

I have no memory of this specific encounter but the scenario is all too familiar, and I will forever bow to the master of memory. That man could recall the color of your nail polish and the height of heels at any given event.

I do remember his visits to Meadow Brook and how he told me I should look him up should I ever come to LA.

When I arrived in 1981 I did just that.

Raymond was always so interested in everything. His intense interest in me had me detailing the minutiae of my life for over 30 years. And with that incredible memory, he shared marvelous stories and recollections from his youth in Adrian, his military tour as "Raywan Liberwax," his time in Paris, his NY salad days, his fights with his Mother, his travels, teaching, friends, relatives, theater, art, opera, everything...the minutiae of his life.

He offered advice, all the time. And although I saw that this characteristic sometimes rubbed people the wrong way, I loved it. I loved it because we were so different from each other. His point of view was rarely my point of view.

And let's face it, the man was highly intelligent. Chances are he knew a fact that I didn't although we sometimes tussled over words. Invariably it came down to choice of pronunciation!

Stubborn, negative, truculent, inquisitive, vain, shy, critical, hyper-sensitive, brilliant, fearful, gifted storyteller, worrisome, obsessive, indignant, supportive, defensive, penurious, atheist then agnostic, contradictory, appreciative, and the best audience, ever. I miss my complicated, difficult, fiercely loyal friend.

Around 1985 I invited him to spend the weekend with me at my brother's home in Mexico. I told him I would have to read a movie script and take some time to work on it but otherwise he'd have my full attention. His reply “Oh, I'll help you.” I couldn't imagine how but help me he did.

That was the beginning of his being my drama coach.

His life-long dedication to self improvement and psychoanalysis was the bedrock on which he drew his suggestions on how I might portray a certain character. He was a keen observer of the human condition. He loved analyzing body movements. We always tried to find out what the character was saying with her body that might inform or contradict what she was saying in her lines.

I attribute my long and successful career to Raymond. He loved helping me by applying his life knowledge to my work. When I got the part, he got the part. And when I didn't, he called them fools, pearls before swine, “Hollywood, Follywood” he'd say. I sometimes wonder if the last 25 years of working with me didn't bring him as much joy as his many years of teaching. He really loved our collaboration, although you can only imagine how often we argued over choices.

We also shared a love of movies and home improvement and finding a “deal.” I very much miss all our outings around those interests. I also miss that he's not there to rave when I bring him something I baked or cooked. He loved those little culinary surprises. For years I did his mending until I think he finally loosened the purse strings when it came to replacing socks or bed linens or clothes. I can't be sure of that but he basically stopped asking me to sew for him.

Up until the very end he was asking about the minutiae, the block club meeting at my house and what I was serving. He thanked me for every “ice cold” slurpy I brought him or the ads from the weekend paper. Oh how he loved to read those ads, every one!

I cannot begin to express how much I miss him. And how much everything reminds me of him. I see an ad and think how I must tell him and how we must go to see what they have, and how much it costs. I go through Cahuenga Pass and picture him up in his living room pouring over the paper. I have a home improvement task and want his opinion on how to approach it.

Hours before he died I asked him if I could read some prayers over him, for me, I said. Of course, he said. As I read the prayers of the dying I cried, choking out the words ever so softly. He remained looking at me the whole time and held my hand to squeeze it. He comforted me as I said my good-bye.

I told him many times over the years that he simply could not die as my career would nose dive. In the end I told him it would all be fine, he would continue to inspire me as he did while with me.

There'll never be another Raymond. The man was one of a kind.

By Terry Kilburn

I first met Raymond in 1951 at the Player's Ring Theater on Santa Monica Blvd. He had recently returned from Europe where he had been working for the Marshall Plan in Paris. He had gone back to USC for his degree and there he had met Al Herwitz (known as Boomie) who was an actor with the Player's Ring Theater; I also acted and directed at there. Raymond used to come to the theater a lot and after some time he started helping out with props and assisting the stage manager.

One day he discovered me sitting in my car, during a break, reading "Obscure Destinies" by Willa Cather, who was one of Raymond's favorite authors. Our enthusiasm for her led us to get the inspiration to write a screenplay together based on one of her most tragic and moving short stories "Neighbor Rosicky." It was to be a starkly realistic "art movie." So, we started work on our project one afternoon at Raymond's house where he was living with his parents. We started off seriously enough, but being young and pretty foolish we little by little began to see the funny side and pretty soon "Neighbor Rosicky" had become a musical with Busby Burkely style dance numbers and lot of flash!! One big number featured neighbor Rosicky driving his horse-drawn cart across a long stretch of the Nebraska plains--on each side of the road giant sunflowers were blooming and as he passed them each flower opened to reveal a platinum blonde chorus girl dancing and crooning in 1930's style. We were ashamed of ourselves, but couldn't stop laughing. So, we realized that we were not cut out to be screenwriters. But, it was the beginning of our friendship and through the years, although there were some rough spots, we continued to laugh--for as you know, Raymond loved to laugh--our friendship which began in 1951, lasted a lifetime. And even in his last hours, we shared laughter. How I miss that laughter.

My Raymond Story by Louise Owen

I first met Raymond in 1968. He was teaching at Widney High School, a school for the physically handicapped, in Los Angeles. I had just been hired as an itinerant teacher to work with visually handicapped students in special schools.

Raymond had a newly blinded girl in his English lit class, and I was teaching her braille. He expected her to turn to a specific page in the book (one of 37 braille volumes), and then a certain paragraph, and begin reading. This would be a challenge for an advanced braille student, and I read him the riot act. He told me later he liked me immediately after the dressing down.

After several weeks, he paid me a back-handed compliment. He said my predecessor was beautiful, but I did more for the students. We became friends then, but mainly professional until 1986 when I moved to Los Angeles and rented the apartment beneath his house.

Raymond was the most intelligent person I’ve ever known. He became my mentor and my confidant. We were, however, different in so many ways. He was arts, theater, music. He was LA Opera. I was Dodgers baseball. He flew to Paris. I backpacked in the Sierras. He toured the Greek Isles. I hiked the Grand Canyon.

He was thrifty to a fault. He read Consumer Reports, ads in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and shopped for bargains. I hate to shop. He liked steaks very rare and vegetables al dente. I never had a quality steak until I was in college, and then didn’t know what it was! I think he enjoyed my naiveté and lack of sophistication.

I heard of his earlier exploits but couldn’t relate to them. He was way out of my league. As years passed, I met many of his friends. He had gone from grade school through high school with Landis Stewart and Bob Aldrich. They became lifelong friends. Bob and Kate Aldrich named their younger son Raymond. The Aldriches became Raymond’s adopted family. The last trip of his life was to Ann Arbor for Thanksgiving with the Aldrich family.

His Los Angeles adopted family was the Howards. He taught school with Mickey and Edith, and when Edith suffered her stroke, Raymond visited every day. They had shared years of art, music, theater, films, museums, travel and food. From the time I met him, his Sunday evenings were spent with Bob Chapman until Bob’s death. I don’t think Raymond ever recovered from that loss. He was a fiercely loyal friend, which, perhaps, explains why he was slow to forgive when he felt wounded.

There was a time when Raymond’s exercise regimen included the 3.2 mile walk around Lake Hollywood. To ease the boredom he listened to music on his tape recorder and established a ritualistic routine of tapping certain posts, circling a tree, and counting ducks. Ducks were his good luck charm, and he was thrilled when he saw them by the dozens. He told me one time, “When I die, just say ‘His ducks ran out’.”

He became very reflective this past year. Because of his declining health, we were together more. He ate a lot of meals in my apartment and we watched movies ordered from Netflix; revisited Jane Austen as he tried to steer me to Edith Wharton. He constantly marveled at the “jewel box” night view of the city from his deck and the San Gabriel Mountains behind us. He expressed joy watching his frolicking cats and worried about the survival of his newly planted rosemary.

I would find him sitting on his deck watching the gold fish in the pond. When asked what he was thinking, he said he felt so fortunate to have (and to have had) so many good friends.

Raymond was engaged to the end. Two days before he died we laughed about getting mail from the Neptune Society. Every time I entered his hospital room, he started talking before I got to his bed. He always asked, “What’s happening?” Even his nurse laughed when I told him Bill Maher said, “The next time we go to war for oil, I hope we get some.” He wanted the day’s headlines. He missed watching The Food Channel. The morning of the day he died he said to me, “Tell me again how you make your potato salad.” He forgave me for taking him back to prison (hospital).

At seven o’clock that evening the doctor called to tell me life support had been removed. Carolyn (Lofrano) drove me to the hospital. Manuel (Escobar), Raymond’s longtime worker, who had become a caregiver, was there. Marianne (Muellerielle) and Terry (Kilburn) came.

Raymond said, “There will be no tears in this room!” And until the morphine caused him to hallucinate, his incredible sense of humor and wit remained intact. Carolyn and I stayed until the end when, finally, his ducks did run out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stories from dear friends

Hugh Martin
I can't tell you how grateful I am for letting me know about the death of Raymond Lieberman. I lost track of him during the last few years, but we had a wonderful friendship before that happened. Ray and I had a lot of laughs together (he had a great sense of humor) but as you know he had his serious side also and I'd admired him for that.

I wish that I could attend the gathering of his friends and family but I'm 95 years old now and I don't travel anymore. Again, thanks so much for the sad information and for the lovely things you said about him.

Wendy Munger
I am one of what must have been many people whose names were in Raymond's files, and who received your wonderful Raymond story. I don't know if I'll be able to come to the celebration on May 22, but I want you to know how much I loved getting your letter. You did him justice, which was not easy to do. He was a friend of my mother, who died in 2002, and I talked to him only a few times after that, but every time I did, he made me laugh and he made me think. I am so happy to know that he had a friend like you, who was in turn so happy to have a friend like him. If each person who got your letter reacted to it the way I did, you have brought great happiness to a large number of people. Thank you so much for taking the time to write us.

Tom Peters
Raymond was a man with whom I became well acquainted during difficult times in his life. He was always affable, interested and interesting even when the time came that we saw each other less frequently. Raymond was truly a man of many voices. He could always surprise and sometimes disappoint, but always he was empathic, helpful and a dear friend to many. Here is to Raymond: May his memory always delight, and remind us of his many "Raymond" stories!

Melinda Peters
I knew Raymond only through our coincidentally same LA Chamber Music series. He was always so gracious and almost old world charming. However brief our contact, he had a way of making me feel special, and I suspect he was similar with many who have come to celebrate him. I am sorry not to have known Raymond better, but am pleased he touched my life.

Barbara Silverman
My friendship with Raymond was different from any other relationship I have ever had. There was never any judgment. We were extremely honest with each other.

Raymond was one of the smartest men I ever met--while at the same time being naive about so many things. He taught me about opera, literature, plays and politics without ever sounding one bit pompous. He questioned my judgment as I questioned his knowledge. We were very comfortable together and spoke at least five times a week.

I will miss him, but I will always know what a good friend truly is and feel blessed to have been able to share these last years with him. Rest easy my friend.

By Sandy Aldrich

I was first introduced to Raymond in a hospital room at the University of Michigan while I was in college. I believe I brought him an arrangement of irises and was eager to make a good impression. You see, Ray and I had just started to date and I had heard all about "Big Raymond" so I knew how important he was to Ray. Raymond greeted me with a warm smile and since that very first meeting he has made such a lasting impression on me. Every encounter, regardless of the time that had passed, was met with the same smile and warm embrace. Raymond was always eager to hear about all my new career adventures and even tolerated my "kid" stories after our children were born. Although our youngest child (pictured with Raymond and Grandpa Bob at Thanksgiving) will not remember Raymond, when we share this picture with her we will pass along our Raymond stories so she will know what a special person he was to us all.