Raymond Teague Bridges, born Jan. 18, 1925, in Kerman, Calif., died Nov. 16, 2008, at the Hospice Center in Loveland, at 83 years of age.
Ray was raised in French Camp, Calif., graduated from Manteca Union High School in May 1942, and joined the U.S. Marine Corps on Jan. 30, 1943. Ray served in the 3rd Marine Raider Bn., “M” Company, and later in the 4th Marines. He participated, in part, in operations on Bougainville, Emirau, Guam and Okinawa, and was discharged from the Marines in December 1945. He will always be our hero.
After the war, Ray attended San Jose State University where he met Billie Jean Hall, his wife of 59 years. Ray and Billie were married on Feb. 19, 1949 and lived in San Jose, Calif., until their move to South Lake Tahoe, Calif. in 1991 after their retirement.
Ray enjoyed a 40-year career in the tire industry in San Jose, operating Statewide Tires and Odd-Ball Tires. He raised six children, and supported and influenced so many others during his career and residence in San Jose. A typical holiday dinner at the Bridges’ house averaged anywhere from 30 to 40 people, including Vietnam vets, people without families, travelers, family, friends, friends of friends, and neighbors. Many people stayed at the Bridges’ house for extended stays, sometimes up to a year, with no expectations.
Upon his arrival in South Lake Tahoe, Ray helped form a chapter of the VFW with friends and fellow vets Gene Ross, Bill Kerr, Al Taylor, Hal Leuthard, Hans Rosevold and others. Billie and Ray traveled extensively throughout the United States and around the world after their retirement, enjoying countries, cities and sites like the Great Wall of China, Sydney Harbour, Tasmania, Monte Carlo, the French Riviera, Dresden, Nice, Austria, Japan and Alaska. Ray was a member of the South Lake Tahoe Elks Club and helped Billie in her many volunteer activities with the non-profit organization O.P.E.N. and the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center.
Ray and Billie moved to Loveland, in 2003. They continued to enjoy traveling, visiting family and friends in Kentucky, Idaho, Nevada and California. They accompanied their daughter, Candace and husband, Pat on airstream rallies in Creede and Yuma, and visited many other Colorado towns and cities. Ray loved to roam. In his last years, he enjoyed landscaping, creating a pond and backyard haven for birds and squirrels.
For the past 30 years, Ray attended many Marine Raider Reunions throughout the country, maintaining relationships formed during the war, and forming new relationships every year. He attended the national convention in Nashville, Tenn., in 2006 with his wife and grandson Luke, also a Marine, and most recently attended the Raider Reunion in Sparks, Nevada in May 2008.
Ray loved the mountains and scenery wherever he traveled or lived. He enjoyed meeting new people and spending time with them during his travels. He opened his heart and his home to all, with no exceptions. He was a story-teller, an avid reader, loved history, did not hesitate to express his opinions, and will always be remembered for his generosity, patience, mentoring, and especially his infectious grin.
Ray is survived by his wife, Billie; their children, Raejean Bridges-Avalos of Misawa, Japan, Candace and husband, Pat Phippen of Fort Collins, Lynn Bridges of Rabat, Morocco, Carolyn Mountain of San Jose, Calif., Nanette and husband, Jim Harris of Sun Valley, Nev., and Craig Bridges of Campbell, Calif.; his grandchildren, Jacob, Ben, Jennifer, Kelley, Spencer, Stephanie, Calvin and Luke, wife Whitney and great-grandchild, Ray. Raymond was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Viola, and his sister, Charlene.
The family will hold a memorial service in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. in July, 2009.
Memorial contributions can be made to Pathways Hospice, 305 Carpenter Road, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525, (or your local hospice), or to the U.S. Marine Raider Association, attention Jack Dornan, 704 Cooper Court, Arlington, Texas 76011-5550. Family and friends may send condolences to the family at Resthaven, 8426 S. Highway 287, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525.