Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raymond L. Worthington 1915-2009

Lydia's memorial reflections from the October 16, 2009, funeral. I have posted an online version of my memorial photo portfolio prints at see the photo set on the right

I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know my grandfather and spend time with him. I am sure you all feel the same, especially as many of you here knew him longer than I did.

In the time I spent with my grandfather, I was able to get to know him as a grandfather and see the many ways he touched his friends and family, including my parents and brother Raymond. I'd like to highlight several characteristics about Ray that have always made me proud to be his granddaughter.

The first was his intelligence. I am certain that all of us were extremely impressed by his technological savvy. True, he occasionally had trouble operating his computer when a power cord was disconnected that he couldn't see, but he really knew his way around a keyboard for someone born in 1915. I can't remember the number of times he marveled at the tools and efficiencies offered by computers and the Internet. "Isn't that something?!" he'd say when he learned something new about the possibilities of working online and connecting to others. Papa Ray created a screenname and learned to chat online, and bookmarked all his favorite sites on his browser. He began emailing his sister-in-law Billie to say hello, and paying all his bills online. He scolded my mother as recently as last week for continuing to pay bills through the mail and waste 44 cent stamps.

Papa Ray really enjoyed seeing Rita do video chats with her family in the Philippines. He was amazed that technology could close such a significant geographical gap and help families keep in touch. Papa Ray embraced learning and progress. In recent months, he was even exploring the new world of social media. He became my Facebook friend this year and sent me a few messages. Papa Ray also saw the entertainment value in technology, learning to use a digital camera and print photos. He truly enjoyed seeing my mother's hobby with digital photography develop. It wasn't just the final product Papa Ray liked seeing; he enjoyed being part of the process. My mother said just yesterday he was the most willing subject she ever photographed, turning to his good side when he saw her on the move with her camera and then requesting 'redos' if he didn't like the photo. Papa Ray learned how to use the Netflix and Blockbuster movie-order websites. I got the sense he enjoyed creating a queue and ordering movies, even if it really was at random and with no guarantee that he or Grandma Audrey would like the movie.

He was quick to make shrewd observations about the world. Papa Ray was always in touch with current events. He read the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post every day and I am sure read even more publications in years past, when his eyeglass prescription was not as strong as it became. Papa Ray's financial acumen and attention to detail made it seem easy to follow the stock market. As most of have seen firsthand over the past year, the stock market is not an easy beast to tame or even start to understand, but Papa Ray's accounting skills and ease with numbers was truly impressive. He knew what he wanted to invest in and could not be snowed by brokers with get-rich-quick buys who cold-called the house.

The next was the kindness he showed others. Papa Ray was generous and accommodating to those around him. Since his passing, I have read several thoughtful notes and heard inspiring anecdotes from those of you who worked with him professionally, over the years. He set a wonderful example with his honesty and integrity. I have also heard testaments to the devoted care Ray helped provide his mother- and aunt-in-law when they were ailing in their later years.

His many years of dedication to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also had a positive impact on those organizations and in turn, the people they helped.

Practicality and frugality were other characteristics I must mention, as my grandfather embodied them in his day-to-day life. The Christmas and birthday gifts Papa Ray seemed to enjoy most were flashlights, tools and batteries. He was a numbers man, an accountant, through and through, so he saw no need to buy paper towels at full price just because it was a brand you liked. When he first saw the big screen HDTV my roommate and I shared a year ago, he asked "do you really need all that TV?" - The Best Buy salespeople wouldn't have been able to get to him. For the record, he was impressed by the lush green grass and landscaping in Wii golf. I remember he took a swing or two with the Wii remote and came closer to par than I usually do! The decades spent living at the edge of the Manor Club golf course must have paid off.

Papa Ray truly seemed to enjoy the simple things in life, whether that was working in the yard, playing bridge or eating chocolate. Chocolate bars, in addition to those batteries and flashlights I mentioned, were also gifts that were always sure to please him. Maryland became Ray's second home state after he moved to Maryland from Connecticut to attend college and met my grandma Audrey on the bus. I think he represented his adopted home well...You all probably know that he and Grandma Audrey are crabcake connoisseurs. (I believe Clyde's at Tower Oaks is currently in the lead for the best price and taste.)

Papa Ray was not an emotionally-demonstrative person. Although he lived in Maryland for many years he still retained the aloofness many associate with "Connecticut Yankees." Papa Ray was never one for greeting cards, emotional moments or what we call "touchy feel-y stuff." It was inspiring to me to see him support me and my brother Raymond through his interest in our education and career. When I did well in college, a pat on the shoulder from him told me he was proud of me. He was practical, straightforward and a great facilitator. I was touched by the fairness and equality he supported. When I began working after college, Papa Ray would sometimes cut out and save articles profiling successful female professionals for me. He was impressed by the gains women had made in the workplace. "And she's so stylish...look at those high heels!" he said about one powerful female investment banker. Papa Ray gave me smart advice up to the last day that I saw him and I know that this, in addition to asking me how my car was running, was his way of telling me he loved me.

I am sure that he showed how much he loved you all in a similar fashion. Despite the great sadness we all feel knowing that Ray is no longer with us, I am also certain each one of us has wonderful memories of our time with him that we'll carry through our lives.

Text of obituary from the Washington Post, published October 18, 2009

Raymond L. Worthington World Bank Executive

Raymond L. Worthington, 93, a certified public accountant who became a World Bank executive, died Oct. 10 at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney of complications after fracturing a hip last month at his home in Rockville.

Mr. Worthington worked for the World Bank from 1955 to 1980, primarily as an auditor handling internal administration costs. Early in his career, he participated as a financial analyst in missions to Costa Rica and to India and Pakistan about port and railroad development.

Raymond Leroy Worthington was born in New Milford, Conn. He graduated in 1941 with an accounting degree from the University of Maryland. He was an Army Air Forces veteran of World War II and afterward worked at the Price Waterhouse accounting firm in Washington. He graduated in 1961 from George Washington University law school.

Mr. Worthington was a past treasurer of the private Washington International School and helped the school's administrators for many years. He was a member of Manor Country Club in Rockville.

Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Audrey Munson Worthington of Rockville; a daughter, Sandra Fleischmann of Vienna; and two grandchildren.

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