Raymond Boyington, 9.1941–07.2022

copyright 2022 Jack A. Urquhart

(For Raymond, who knew me well — and loved me anyway.)

After a four-month battle with aggressive brain cancer, Raymond Lee Boyington of Ventura, California, passed away on July 16, 2022, while in In-Home Hospice Care. He was 80. Raymond was born in Embden, Maine, the son of Frank Boyington and Alta Quimby Boyington. He was one of seven siblings.

Raymond leaves behind his partner and husband of twenty-four years, Jack Urquhart of Ventura, CA; Daughters, Dr. Sarah Gonda, Thousand Oaks, CA, and Katharine Boyington, Portland, OR; Son-in-law, Dr. John Gonda, Thousand Oaks; Granddaughter Danielle Boyington, San Francisco; Grandsons Dedrick Boyington, Brooklyn, NY, and Nate and Emmett Gonda, Thousand Oaks; and the mother of his daughters, Barbara Boyington, Mountain View, CA. His beloved former partner, Peter Bell, San Francisco, preceded him in death. Other family members include sister Betty LaPoint, Branford, CT; and brothers, Weldon Boyington, Andalusia, AL, Richard Boyington, Sebastian, FL, and Mahlon Boyington, Vero Beach, FL, as well as numerous nieces and nephews whom he loved very much. Not to be forgotten is a long list of dear friends, many of them lifelong, in the U.S, France, Mexico, and Norway.

Raymond received an MS in Physical Chemistry at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where he was subsequently employed as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, as well as the coordinator and liaison for General Chemistry to the statewide university campuses (1969–1980). In addition, Raymond was a Fulbright Exchange Teacher (Kempston, England, 1991) and taught at numerous high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Harker School, San Jose, University High School, and Lick-Wilmerding High School, San Francisco. Raymond was a pioneer in supporting LGBTQ students and colleagues.  

A dedicated and exacting educator and scientist for over fifty years, Raymond mentored countless youths, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers. He was the author of several widely used Chemistry textbooks and study guides, including Chemical Principles: Student Guide (1973, WB Saunders) and Study Guide for Chemical Principles (1981, WB Saunders).

Those privileged to know and love him will remember Ray for his generous spirit, love of beautiful things — music, literature, art — and his ability to work culinary magic. A self-taught gourmet, Raymond appreciated all things delicious; he was an expert at whipping up a feast from scratch. Raymond took a particular delight in a geta of beautifully presented, extra-fresh sushi, and his love of oysters on the half-shell was legendary among family and friends. 

But perhaps more than anything, Raymond will be remembered for his always inquiring mind and quick intellect, winning smile, ability to love and empathize deeply, and his unwavering dedication to family and friends. Not to be omitted from this list of Raymond’s greatest hits is the meticulous care he devoted to his much-prized (much envied), marvelously luxurious Hair.

Those who knew and loved Raymond will miss him more than these few words can express.

Donations: The American Cancer Society, https://bit.ly/3uUX3pX

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For Dillon: A Birthday Rumination from Dad


I admit it, Kiddo.

I'm not as sharp as I used to be,
and neither are my memories of you.
The effect of advancing age, I expect --
and stubborn self-protection.

That said, a few things still cut
close to the bone.
Your birthday, for example, 
March eighth, 4:44 p.m.

Those tiny, bloody fists, 
trembling, flailing, furious 
(at the loss of your cradling salty sea,
at the intrusion of the baying lupine world?)

Equally keen comes the tart memory 
of your lemon-puckered adolescent smirk,
your sour disdain sufficient to sap 
the last drop of my limited patience.

And how could I forget your appalling 
table manners, that cacophonous slur
of sibilant slurps, your "kiss my ass! 
These eats are seriously good!" attitude? 

Or the deathbed rattle of your 
unconscious gasps thirty-four years later, 
those "for god's sake, enough already" 
final sighs and moans?

These things slice sharp and true.
Others, not so much. 

And yes, sometimes there is guilt 
in this creeping forgetfulness. 
After all, what kind of father 
lets his son slip away like that?

What kind of Dad doesn't go the last mile 
for the sake of blood?
My kind, I guess. The selfish kind
(as you and your sister must've thought)?

The kind who clings to a well-rehearsed refrain: 
"I have a life, too!" and just won't let go?

But just so you know: I sometimes feel the sting of it --
enough for a good wallow in charges brought against me: 
Such a shocking lack of fatherly compassion! 
Such a breath-taking display of self-indulgence!

(Ah, thank god for self-deprecation -- 
Surely the penultimate in pre-emptive strikes!)

But, in fairness, Kiddo, what self-pleasuring 
has ever been more sating, more ratifying than, 
"Oh my god, s/he/it is so much worse than I"?  
I mean, isn't judgment the essence of human nature?

And yes, I know that all sounds exculpatory.

Nevertheless, here's the point I'd like to make --  
call it a birthday wish if you want, 
albeit a self-serving one, I'll admit:
I hope to do your memory the justice you deserve. 

And allow myself a modest measure 
in that as well.

I'd like to reconcile the limits 
of a love that couldn't save you, 
or keep you sane and safe 
in this broken-hearted world.

I'd like to entertain the notion that perhaps -- 
just perhaps -- not everyone born in love 
was meant to linger in this life, 
not everyone suited to the long haul?

And that what transpired between us -- 
all the despair, the loss, the grief --
was a lesson in the rightful margins of love, 
yours as well as mine. 

I like to think that I'm on to something here.
But it's a hard sell -- even for me; a bit too inchoate, 
too lenient, too wishful thinking? That said, Birthday Boy, 
I'll try for any port in this lingering storm.
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Seattle, February 2011 (for Dillon, 03.08.1979 — 08.02.2013)

How was I to know then—in the shadow

of that red lacquered library, in that misting rain?

How was I to know as you sprinted Spring Street

that you would never come back to me again—

not the onery, flesh and blood, authentic you,

not the smirking, hungry, always ready to argue—you?

How was I to know you were already performing

your disappearing act, already losing yourself

by milliliters and milligrams, slipping steadily

down the rabbit hole toward oblivion?

How was I to know that you were already on your way

to gone, that I would never hear you speak again

face to face that loaded word—Dad?

Tell me, how was I supposed to know all that

when I let you go that day, when I didn’t call you back?

And more to the point—why didn’t I?

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Prose Poem: Occasionally Yours








©2021 by Jack A. Urquhart 

For Dillon (03.08.1979–08.02.2013)

Sometimes, once or twice a week,
domestic distractions fail me,
the baskets of dirty laundry
waiting to be washed, ironed,
and neatly put away,
the shelves collecting dust,
ashes of long-past conflagrations,
still banked and smoldering.
Sometimes this busy work
cannot keep you out of sight,
keep you out of mind.
So, I open the door
to the room where you reside,
step inside, pull up a chair,
and become occasionally yours. Continue reading

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Dillon by Proxy (in the Coffee Shop) prose poem by @EvryManJac

For my son, Dillon (March 8, 1979–August 2, 2013)

©2020 by Jack A. Urquhart 

Yesterday in a coffee shop,
in an incidence of unabashed affection,
I saw a man lean to plant a kiss
atop his preteen son’s head.
The kid was a sturdy chap,
mop topped, sporting baggy shorts.
He made me think of you at twelve,
and how flush-faced in your reaction
to public displays of parental ardor,
you stirred physically away,
moved by simultaneous outbreaks
of adolescent embarrassment,
(lest, God forbid, a peer had witnessed
the parental faux pas)
and a flickering, begrudging gratitude
in your ambivalent smile. Continue reading

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Steel, a prose poem by @EvryManJac

©2019 by Jack A. Urquhart

Stainless steel was the medium he favored,
forever hard and utilitarian—
the price my father paid
to make his way in the world.
And sometimes, small in his shadow,
I would watch from a distance,
as he slipped on his helmet,
as he brought fire to bear on metal,
his white-hot will cutting, bending,
shaping till a thing was forged in his image—
made to bear the weight
of heavy things.
“Don’t look at the arc flash!”
my father would admonish
when he noticed me watching.
“It will destroy your vision,” he said,
handing me thick, dark goggles
fashioned after his own.
Perhaps he thought I’d be protected
hidden behind impenetrable glass,
safe from the showering sparks
that burn and blind.
Then, turning once again,
He would take up the task,
hard, flexed, beautiful in the heat,
never noticing when, overcome by the sight,
I would sneak an unprotected glance,
too awed by his  brilliance
to resist the light.

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Returns of the Day, a prose poem by @EvryManJac






©2019 by Jack A. Urquhart
(for Dillon from Dad)

Today is your birthday.
You would’ve been forty years old.
Forty!  Imagine that.

Sometimes I do.

I imagine what you might’ve become,
And how you could’ve been healed,
the role I should’ve played.
I conjure the special person
whom you might’ve found,
and the life you could’ve shared,
the lives you might’ve sown.

I know there is no good in this.
And yet the mind will run wild.

It will try to imagine
what’s become of you now,
where you might be,
that fabled afterlife
of prophecy and pulpits,
tales told in tongues of men and angels.
All become as sounding brass,
now that you’ve gone beyond the noise;
now that you’ve vanished—poof!
into the great unknowable.

Only your ashes kept close bring comfort.

I am not ready to let the least of you go;
not ready to relinquish the unreal conditional You:
all the birthdays that might’ve been,
the “should haves” and “could haves”
that mark the returns of the day.

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Dillon, In No Particular Order, a prose poem by @EvryManJac






©2018 by Jack A. Urquhart

Here you come ‘round again
it’s five years now
since you took your leave
and still these parceled posts
arrive in the present tense
mementos of you come home again
in no particular order: Continue reading

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Red Dwarf Trope, prose poem by @EvryManJac

©2018 by Jack A. Urquhart

I don’t know much about red dwarfs,
no expert of celestial bodies here;
not an astronomer, not even an astrologer
casting about for friendly signs and symbols,
a star-lit chart to some heavenly happiness.
I only know that there are a lot of them,
and that red dwarfs are unfathomably slow,
interminably ancient, depleting their resources,
nevertheless, after a universally self-destructive pattern.

Also (not surprisingly), they lack luster.

Like most beings accelerating in space,
red dwarfs never achieve full-fledged stardom;
rather, they collapse slowly on themselves
becoming smaller and immaterial over time
(as well as exponentially more dense).
All the intimacies that fuel a friendly fusion,
are consumed in a dimly read conflagration,
until there is only a gravity-bound center—
no more at the heart of the matter than stillness,
a desolate mass in an expanse of space.
Just another black hole in the billions of us,
invisible to the naked human eye.

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Hobo’s Dream, prose poem by @EvryManJac







Hobo’s Dream
© 2018 by Jack A. Urquhart

In a hometown dream,
I tramp familiar streets,
gnarly stick thrown o’er my shoulder
wags a hobo’s satchel banner,
its colors bandana red, white, paisley.
Worn shoes flap loose soles
like extra maws at my feet.
With each step, they mouth off at me:
floppa-floppa, floppa-floppa,
a duet in ragged-ass reproach.
What does it mean, I wonder,
this dream of down-and-out dereliction?
Only that I’ve grown old, perhaps?
Is that too much to hope?
Only that I’ve grown frightfully old?

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