|Birth: ||Dec. 18, 1922|
|Death: ||Mar. 10, 2010|
A. Raymond Tye
CAMBRIDGE — "What can I do to help?"
That's what A. Raymond Tye asked Richard Cardinal Cushing half a century ago, when Cushing was archbishop of Boston and wanted to reassure the Jewish community that he meant to end his predecessor's negative provocations against people of the Jewish faith. Mr. Tye offered sage counsel along with sincere friendship, helping push Boston to the forefront of Catholic-Jewish dialogue in America.
Mr. Tye asked Walter Brown the same question in the 1950s, when the original Celtics owner was strapped for the cash he needed to keep the team in Boston. Brown soon had the resources to build an unprecedented sports dynasty, and Mr. Tye had rights for life to the seats he seldom requested at midcourt, just behind his lifelong friend, Red Auerbach.
More recently, Mr. Tye asked how he could help the family of a 10-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet in Dorchester, and how he could assist scores of others from Kigali to Baghdad whose heart-rending stories he had heard or read about. Whether it was reaching into his pocket to pay for a little girl's funeral or tapping his humanitarian Foundation to underwrite a landmark 34-hour surgery that would separate conjoined Egyptian twins, Mr. Tye stepped in, seeing it as his way to give back. Giving back was the theme of this first-generation American businessman's life — this magnate in the liquor industry. "This is not philanthropy," he liked to say. "It is a moral responsibility."
Mr. Tye — a legend in Boston's business, medical, political and sports worlds — died on March 10 at his home in Cambridge, Mass., at the age of 87, after a yearlong battle with cancer.
Mr. Tye was born in Haverhill, Mass., the middle of three children whose mother, Minnie, was reared on the Texas frontier, while his father Joseph came from the tiny town of Kosovo in Poland. The original family name, Tikotsky, was shortened to the Americanized Tye when Ray was a teenager. He graduated from Haverhill High School and attended Tufts University, where he had planned to focus on social work and the law until World War II intervened. He enlisted in the Army and served as a first lieutenant in the military police, then as an adjutant to Gen. George S. Patton. Mr. Tye was wounded in Europe, but was later called back to service in the Korean War. In 1994, on the 50th anniversary of what would have been his graduation, Tufts granted him an Honorary Bachelor of Arts degree. He also received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Saint Joseph's College in Maine.
After helping his parents run their shoe factory in Haverhill in the mid-1940s, Mr. Tye moved to Boston and began as a warehouse worker at United Liquors, a distributorship that consisted then of just three trucks and 30 workers on Lansdowne Street, opposite Fenway Park's Green Monster. Mr. Tye rose to salesman, sales manager, general sales manager, and in 1957 was named president of the company owned by his father-in-law. He grew the firm to the largest liquor wholesaler in the region, with more than 600 employees, and served as president of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and National Distillers Distributors Foundation. In 2006, Mr. Tye sold United Liquors to the Martignetti family.
Mr. Tye gave back to his communities in many ways, starting as chairman of the Community Relations Commission and the Crime Commission in Newton, where he lived for 20 years and raised his family of three sons and two daughters. Ray was an original founder of both the 100 Club and the B'Nai Brith Sports Lodge. After moving to Boston, he chaired the Water and Sewer Commission for more than 10 years, and was on the boards of Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center and Schepens Eye Research Institute. He also served on the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts and was a trustee at the Boston Public Library.
Civil rights were always a passion for Mr. Tye, as reflected in his lifelong membership in the NAACP, while his civic work won him countless honors, including: a 2007 Heroes Among Us Award from the Boston Celtics, a 2008 Medical All-Star Award from the Boston Red Sox, the 2009 Justice and Compassion Award from the Archdiocese of Boston, and the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from Tufts Medical Center. It was in the Jewish community, however, that he made an even more indelible mark. Mr. Tye helped form the Hillel House when he was at Tufts, helped build the Anti-Defamation League of Boston into one of America's strongest chapters, and helped every Jewish cause that asked him for support over the next six decades. As for Israel, Mr. Tye said, "I feel that my country is America and I will live or die as a free person in America. But I also believe in Israel, and will always support it."
His crowning community accomplishment, and the one for which he is best known today, is as President of the Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation. As a surprise gift to him on his 80th birthday, his wife Eileen rallied family and friends to raise $2 million to fund what would become his life work and legacy, an organization dedicated to funding medical care for people without insurance or other means to pay. The Foundation continues to raise funds to pay for hundreds of life-saving surgeries and medical treatments for young and old, here and around the world.
Between his work and civic involvements, Mr. Tye found time to travel and loved to get away — and whether it was to faraway Nepal or closer to home in the Caribbean, he always left his imprint. In Anguilla, for instance, he bought Christmas dinners for the poor and sent many young students to school in America. He always extracted a promise, however, that afterward they would return home and help their own people with their new skills.
Mr. Tye leaves his wife of 21 years, Eileen; four children from his first marriage — James Tye of Rio de Janeiro, Carol Rose and her husband Paul of Lakewood, Colo., the late Michael Tye, Mark Tye and his wife Paula of Brazil and Aspen, Colo., and Randy O'Brien and her husband Bill of Easton; a stepdaughter Lauren Cronin and her husband Tom of Wellesley; and five grandchildren, Molly and Conor O'Brien, Lucas Correa Tye, and Annie and John Cronin.
Mr. Tye's funeral will be held at Congregation Mishkan Tefila, 300 Hammond Pond Parkway, Chestnut Hill, on Monday, March 15, at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Children of Israel Cemetery, Middle Road, Haverhill, Mass. The family will receive visitors in the Abbey Room on the second floor of the Boston Public Library, McKim Building, from 4 to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 15, and again from 2 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation, P.O. Box 850376, Braintree, MA 02185 or via its Web site www.rtmaf.org. Arrangements by Stanetsky Memorial Chapels, 1668 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445, 617-232-9300.
Joseph Tikotsky Tye (1892 - 1982)
Children of Israel Cemetery
Maintained by: D J Pimentel
Originally Created by: Mayflower Pilgrim 332
Record added: Mar 12, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49575353