Raymond Riel – Woonsocket

Raymond Riel – Woonsocket

Ray Riel was the kind of man who arose each morning and went to work. The value of a hard day’s work was ingrained in Ray’s upbringing. Once his work for the day was complete, that was when Ray began his true work. Ray’s dedication to his church and community was his second career and his true calling. Through such commitment and involvement Ray made his lasting impact.

Raymond Joseph Riel was born on October 25, 1943, in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the late Henri and Lillian (Hall) Riel. He was raised just a ways up the Blackstone River in the French-Canadian village of Manville, amongst a tight-knit enclave of families where everyone knew and looked out for each other. Ray would reside in Woonsocket for most of his adult life.

Ray, 77, passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of his family on Thursday, November 12, 2020, at home after valiantly battling idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Ray’s love for his family ran deeper than any words could describe. He was the loving husband of Pauline L. (Gaulin) Riel for the past 42 years. They were united in marriage on December 1, 1978. Ray loved Pauline to the moon and back! Ray was the proud father of Raymond G. Riel of Cumberland, Teresa M. “Terri” Eason and her husband, Stanley, of Woonsocket, Christopher “C.J.” White and his wife, Diana, of Jackson, Tenn., Jesse W. Riel and his wife, Keryn, of Woonsocket, and Christopher M. Riel and wife, Wendy, of Woonsocket.

Ray’s family takes comfort in knowing that he is now reunited in eternity with his beloved baby son, David Michael Riel, who passed in 1966 and his beloved daughter Patricia A. “Patti” Mowry who passed in 2011, and he was the father-in-law of Patti’s husband, Jeffrey Mowry, of North Smithfield.

Ray was the adoring grandfather of 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was the brother of Henry Riel of Bellingham, Mass., Edward Riel and his wife, Suzanne, of Warwick, Normand Riel and his wife, Marilyn, of Woonsocket, Florence Dery of Woonsocket, Suzanne Carriere of Pascoag and the late Yvonne Drawdy. He is also survived by several aunts and uncles and many nieces, nephews, cousins and their families. Last, but certainly by no means least, Ray is survived by his faithful companion, Ollie. They enjoyed swinging on the porch, where Ollie was the recipient of many, many secret treats from Ray. Ray loved Ollie!!!

Ray was employed in the heavy construction industry and at Travelers Transit Inc., Bryant University, the city of Woonsocket Water and Highway Departments and the Woonsocket Improvement Company. Ray was also the proprietor of Riel’s Tank & Pump Gas station on Bernon Street in Woonsocket. Ray also worked alongside his son Jesse Riel in his construction firm.

Ray’s faith was at the very heart of who he was as a person. Ray was a longtime communicant of Sacred Heart Parish. He volunteered for many activities at the parish and was very much involved with many aspects of parish life. As a natural extension of that involvement, Ray was instrumental in the re-establishment of the Woonsocket Knights of Columbus Council #113 where he served as Past Grand Knight. Through Ray’s tireless efforts the Woonsocket Knights were able to once again become an active organization in the community. He personally recruited many men to join the Knights. Ray was also a Fourth Degree member of the General Stephen Moylan Assembly 4th Degree Knights of Columbus serving as Past Faithful Navigator. Ray’s involvement with the Knights extended to serving on the state-wide level as a Former District Deputy. Ray truly exemplified the four pillars that knighthood is based on: charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.

Ray’s sense of volunteerism extended to a number of community based projects. Ray was one of the original volunteers in the restoration and reopening of the Stadium Theater as a performing arts venue in Woonsocket. Ray was also involved with the design and building of Costa Park. He helped with Connecting Families and Children (CCF) and with the Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation. Ray was also an associate member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge # 24.

Ray’s heart was a bottomless well of love and dedication to his family and friends. He would do anything for anyone at any time day or night. He possessed boundless energy and if someone needed help Ray was determined to help them. From shoveling snow for a neighbor in the middle of a blizzard to constructing many ramps for persons with limited mobility, if something needed to be done Ray Riel would do it. With his trademark modesty, Ray would see a need and fill the void, oftentimes inspiring and eliciting others to help, mostly his “Brother Knights”. Ray would put his know-how in construction to use and get done whatever needed doing. You could truly say that by the way he lived his life; Ray was on a “Mission from God”.

Ray enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, especially eating and listening to music. Ray was all about loving his family and living to be of service to his Lord and helping his neighbors. Through his last several years, Ray exhibited formidable courage inspired by his faith in the face of his illness while maintaining his sense of dignity, kindness and positive outlook on life. Ray truly knew that each and every moment, especially when he was with his loved ones, was a gift from God. Ray treasured that time and made the most of it. While Ray’s passing leaves a void in the lives of those he knew and loved, his legacy of caring for others by his examples of faith and good works are his lasting legacy.

Ray’s Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, Nov. 19, at 11 a.m., in Holy Trinity Parish (OLQM Church), 1409 Park Ave., Woonsocket. Ray will be laid to rest in St. Charles Cemetery on Farm Street in Blackstone. Visiting hours are Wednesday, from 3-6 p.m., in the Menard-Lacouture Funeral Home, 127 Carrington Ave., Woonsocket. All R.I. Public Health Dept. guidelines (masks, distancing and capacity) will be required.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio St., Suite 500, Chicago, Ill. 60611, or HopeHealth Hospice Center, 1085 North Main St., Providence, RI. 02904.