A son of Elmira, New York whose heart never really left the Southern Tier, Raymond Michael Stoddard died in Charlotte, NC on March 23, 2021, following a valiant four-year struggle with MDS and acute leukemia. The fourth child of Rita Corcoran Stoddard and Dr. Raymond H. Stoddard, Ray was born at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira on December 19, 1953; his life-long enthusiasm for all things related to Christmas flowed most assuredly from the happy time of year that surrounded his annual birthday celebration.
Southside High School, from which he graduated in the Hurricane Agnes Class of 1972, nurtured a love of music and drama in Ray. Studying initially at Webster College’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts in Saint Louis, he earned his BA in History from The College of Notre Dame of Maryland and his MA in Theatre Education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. His many years as an Equity Stage Manager, combined with his fascination with historical events and people, led to a twenty-two-year teaching career at Mercy High School in Baltimore where he taught history and social studies and served as the school’s Theatre Arts Program Director. He also enjoyed leading international study trips for Mercy students, to Ireland, England and Australia.
Love found Ray late in life, but find him it did. He married the love of his life, and fellow faculty member at Mercy High School, Mary Pollara, in Baltimore in 2007.
Ray is survived by his wife, Mary, of Salisbury, NC; his sisters, Jeanne Stoddard Pidot (Whitney) and Karen Stoddard (Eileen O’Neill); his sister-in-law, Deborah Stoddard; his brother-in-law, Bob Pollara (Donna); his nephews Whitney Pidot, Jr; Philip Pidot (Missy); Seth Pidot (Katie); Quinn Stoddard-O’Neill; Brad Pollara (Trista); Truitt Pollara (Ashley) and Jonathan Pollara, as well as many beloved grand nieces, grand nephews and cousins. Ray was predeceased by his parents as well as his brothers, Martin and Michael, and his niece, Jennifer Pollara.
Ray was a voracious reader, especially of American Civil War history; anyone lucky enough to hike around Gettysburg battlefield with him inevitably learned far more about the War from Ray than they ever learned sitting in a classroom. Ray was a genuine lover of animals, a veritable magnet for the affections of all creatures, beginning with his childhood dog, Ruff, and ending with Max, who survives him. Ray loved to go fishing, but no fish ever feared him; Ray was definitely a catch-and-release angler. He mainly sought the peace and solitude of being on the water, with a book and a cooler of Diet Coke and an occasional nibble on his line. The next time you hear a Billy Joel song, think of Ray.
Ray is gone too soon and will be missed by all who loved him, but as his Irish Grandma Corcoran might have said, “Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
A funeral mass will be celebrated at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, NC on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 2:00pm; attendance will be limited due to Covid protocol requirements, but the service will be live-streamed. Internment will take place in Saint Peter and Paul’s Cemetery in Elmira, New York at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, anyone considering a donation in Ray’s memory might kindly consider directing it to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation (supportnovanthealth.org).
Lyerly Funeral Home is serving the Stoddard family. Online condolences may be made at www.lyerlyfuneralhome.com.