Golf 02

Raymond Russell Golli

December 29, 1933 ~ January 7, 2022 (age 88)

Obituary

Raymond Russell Golli, aged 88, on January 7, 2022, died peacefully at his home in Pittsburgh, PA.  He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Frances McKee Golli; devoted father of Laura Donoghue (Golli) of Mt. Lebanon and Jonathan Golli, of Shaker Heights, OH; loving grandfather of Meredith Donoghue, Norah Donoghue, August Golli, and Curtis Golli; brother of the late Eugene Golli of Brunswick Ohio. Also survived by son-in-law John Donoghue and daughter-in-law Kathryn Heidemann; niece Christine Taylor (Golli), her husband James Taylor and son Benjamin Taylor; nephew Thomas Golli, his wife Patricia Golli and his sons Neil and Daniel.

Ray was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 29, 1933, the son of Anthony (Tony) Golli, a Calabrian immigrant, and Angelina Arena Golli, born in New York City to immigrant parents from Sicily. Ray was exceptionally proud of his father’s service in World War I, and every Veterans Day hung his father’s burial flag from the front porch. The Golli family resided in Cleveland’s Lakewood neighborhood, where Tony, a master tailor, owned and operated a shop for four decades. Ray learned his strong work ethic helping in his father’s tailor shop from the age of twelve.

Ray graduated from Lakewood High School in 1952, and thanks to the help of a wise guidance counselor, became the first member of his family to attend college. He warmly remembered his time at Ohio University, where he majored in mechanical engineering, served two years of ROTC, regularly triumphed in darts and billiards tournaments, and celebrated life with his brothers in the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He graduated from Ohio University in 1956 and served six years on active reserve with the Army. At the same time, he embarked on his engineering career with the East Ohio Gas Company in Cleveland.

In 1966, he met Frances Doerfler McKee, the love of Ray’s life, and promptly proposed marriage on their first date. In 1969, having transferred to Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) in Pittsburgh, Ray and Fran purchased a home in Mt. Lebanon, where the couple raised their children, Laura and Jonathan. They lived in this home for their entire marriage.

In 1970, the Steeler Nation granted citizenship to the Cleveland transplant when Ray purchased season-tickets at the new Three Rivers Stadium, beginning a family tradition that his children and grandchildren continue to enjoy at Heinz Field.  Ray became a part of Pittsburgh history in 1972, when he witnessed Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception from his seat behind the endzone where Harris scored the winning touchdown.

Working from his office in the former CNG Tower, Ray enjoyed a successful 37-year career with CNG. In 1980, he received a Masters Degree in Energy Resources from the University of Pittsburgh. Later that decade, he received a promotion to executive, spearheading the company’s transition to the computer age, one of his proudest professional accomplishments.

Ray began a new phase in his life when he retired in 1993.  Looking for a way to give back to the community, he created a job for himself at Mt Lebanon Public Library.  He started a volunteer program to teach older adults how to use computers. Ray became a fixture and beloved teacher at the library.  He also devoted more time to a lifelong love of wood-working while turning his artist’s eye to the making of stained glass. An excellent athlete in his youth, he continued to thrive on the golf course, where he frustrated his rivals by draining long difficult putts after approach shots rarely if ever taken from the rough.  His life-long dedication to exercise always made him a fixture at local fitness centers until his last days. 

Called De-Ray by his grandchildren, his oldest grandchild, Meredith Donoghue, wrote that “De-Ray is a kind, patient, gentleman, someone who is loving and is loved.” Ray Golli certainly was a happy man. He understood that the simple things in life –spending time with your wife, very dry martinis, Richard North Patterson novels, rare steaks, the Steelers, comfortable sweaters, and jazz music –were the source of some of life’s greatest joys.

Long ago on a summer evening in Paris, his daughter Laura remembers watching a tear run down the cheek of her father’s face. Ray was bathed in the evening light from the stained-glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, his expression one of perfect contentment as a string quartet took up the first notes of Gershwin’s Summertime.

Ray was once asked what the title of his biography would be. “A Fortunate Life” he answered without missing a beat. A fortunate life indeed, for both Ray, and those fortunate enough to have known him.

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