Posted by Rich Hutchison on February 1, 2011, 11:50 am
Some of you might remember Ray. |
Powerlifting lost another friend recently. Ray Kress, a Pittsburgh super heavy died on Sunday Jan 23, apparently of a heart attack in his sleep. Only in his early forties, I think. Ray was a typical good hearted Pittsburgher. He grew up in a working class family on the South Side and put himself through Pitt, earning a Chemical Engineering degree. Ray worked for Bechtel and helped build power plants, spending many months and even years in places like China, Chile, and Egypt. When he was in China he often noticed people looking at him and heard the word “sumo”. He died while on assignment in Wisconsin.
Ray made no bones about the fact that he did not compete drug free. He did make the Powerlifting USA TOP 100 SHW list for July 1991 to June 1992 with a 24th place Squat of 805, 91st place Deadlift of 625, and a 33rd place Total of 1,915. I always felt that he had more natural strength than any of the other lifters in my gym, but it was a hobby for him rather than an obsession. I think at one time he weighed as much as 370, but I knew him as a svelte 350 pounder. I will always remember his advice to guys who were having trouble gaining muscle mass - “Eat an extra pound of red meat every day.” That should make some nutritionists go mad. A true Pittsburgher, Ray was no-nonsense; when others discussed detailed technical reasons for failing in a lift, his favorite comment was an unsympathetic “Maybe it was too heavy for ya.”
He walked into my gym to look around shortly after it opened in 1993 and saw me making a powerlifting platform of two by fours. I was bringing in the wood a few pieces at a time from Home Depot in my Honda Accord. I didn’t know him at all then, but Ray had a truck, and that was it; I hardly lifted another finger that night. Ray later used the same truck to help my son move out of my house into a condo. It was amazing to see Ray walk into the house; he filled the doorway, giving a whole new perspective to his size. He picked up heavy objects which my son and I together would have struggled with and casually lifted them up onto his truck.
Ray and I went to Pittsburgh as spectators for a PL meet in the late 1990s and he immediately volunteered to spot and load in the overcrowded warm-up room; worked like a dog to help others as I recall. Ray was close my son’s age, and they became friends of sorts, hanging out together occasionally. I’m sure they shared some experiences that I don’t want to know about. Ray, the chemical engineer, worked part time as a bouncer just for fun in a Georgetown bar, and from what little I heard, he bounced quite well.