Raymond Ayala, 62, of Dunmore, was born in New York City, N.Y. on June 28, 1958. He was a devoted son to his mother, Carmen Castillo, and a loving partner to his fiancé, Kelli Knight. Raymond is predeceased by his father, Cristobal Ayala; stepfather, Jimmy Castillo; eldest brother, Edgar Ayala; and uncle, William A. Walta. In addition to his mother, Carmen, Raymond is survived by his siblings, Albert (and wife, Dea), Jose, Jamie and Oscar; niece, Danielle Walta (and son, Nicholas); aunts, Rosa M. Walta, Nelida Cruz, Milagros and Sonia Ayala; uncles, Angel and Bobby Ayala; cousins, Safiyah, Javier (and wife, Nina) Walta; Ayesha, Khalid, Khalil and Sumaiyah Basir; Jalil Blalock; Luis and Bobby Cruz, as well as a host of dear friends.
While growing up in NYC, Raymond attended Our Lady of Lourdes parochial school in Harlem. Around this period of adolescence, Raymond discovered that he had a penchant for graffiti. After dark, Raymond would sneak into subway train depots to spray paint his “tag,” “Rican619.” He was an ardent graffiti artist and was ultimately selected with a group of other graffiti artists to spray paint a backdrop for well-known choreographer, Twyla Tharp. The backdrop was used in performances at City Center, to which his mother attended.
Upon graduation from George Washington High School, Raymond enlisted in the Marines. Raymond excelled as a squad leader in basic training, scoring high as a swim instructor and as a rifleman. After four years in the military, Raymond returned home and worked in construction for a short time. It was during this time that he suffered a serious back injury as a result of a fall while employed by a utility company. Thereafter, he worked as a car salesman for Champion Ford and Hesser Nissan before working with his brother, Albert, who opened his own car dealership.
Raymond and Kelli, having met almost 40 years earlier, began dating again in 2013. After falling in love, they became engaged. Raymond so loved their trips to Charleston, S.C. to be at the beach, and spending time with Kelli’s family, her mother, Ruthie, and sisters, Karel Givens and Kimberly Knight and niece, Kendall Givens. Raymond was with Kelli in Charleston when she lost her mother in March of this year. He was a steadfast and loyal partner to the end. His Persian cat, Noonoo, sits up waiting for him to walk through the door.
Raymond was truly a family man and a people person. He enjoyed “catching up” with old friends and making new ones. The joy and light he brought to the world and to each of us will burn forever bright and bring comfort to us.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 29 at Vanston & James Funeral Home, 1401 Ash St., Scranton, 2 to 4 p.m. 570-344-2498.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the World Wildlife Fund, https://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center.