My wife and I were fortunate to call Ray Riker a friend. Ray and his partner Jim Gowran -- our friend, as well -- have run the Kirby House for more than a decade. Mary (who took the wonderful photo of Ray above) and I stayed at this magnificent B&B numerous times since we were married in 2000. A few years ago, Ray and Jim even asked us to house-sit while they went on a rare vacation, which helped solidify our friendship, and gave our daughter Zoë (who was conceived in one of the Kirby's rooms) a chance to enjoy its many charms and comforts.
Tragically, Ray passed away on January 3rd from cardiac arrest, following a bout with colon cancer. So many people who knew Ray posted memories of him on the funeral home's Web site, and many of these writings, like ours, centered on his companionship and his smile. As the chef at the Kirby, Ray also crafted sumptuous breakfasts that put a smile on our faces, and jump-started our day as we made plans to venture into Saugatuck or Douglas for an afternoon of sightseeing, shopping and eating, often made even more pleasant due to tips and suggestions from our gracious hosts. Afterward, we would return, pour a cool drink, then chat, laugh and relax with Ray and Jim by the pool. Mary and I have always felt at ease, and at home, when in their company.
This past week has been a reminder to spend more time with loved ones, and we'll be there to support Jim as he goes through the grieving process. Thankfully, he plans to re-open the B&B in February, and Mary and I will be there to help, as our schedules permit. In fact, she has offered to assist with some of the cooking, since Mary, as was true of Ray, puts together wonderful feasts. Based on the comments of those who attended the funeral last Friday, the house will soon be full again, which always put a smile on Ray's face.