There were a lot of people at my great-grandfather, Raymond’s, funeral. He had a lot of friends. When he was alive, he never had to deal with comments about the 90s sitcom. He passed in 1989 nearly 5 years before Everybody Loves Raymond hit the air. Unlike my Great-grandmother, Lottie who died long before I was born, I knew my great-grandfather Raymond.
But I didn’t really know him. I only got a glimpse into the man he was on his last visit. During this visit, he was very animated talking about riding in the back of some horse-drawn carriage with his brother who fell off and got a nasty gash on his head. Somehow my great-grandfather made that mundane story seem compelling. At that moment, I could see why my Dad was very close to his grandfather. A couple of months after telling that story, he died.
He died in December right after he came inside from one of his favorite activities, chopping firewood. He told my great-grandmother he didn’t feel well and then collapsed. We think he had a heart attack.
My great-grandfather Raymond was boisterous, energetic and a terrific storyteller. He had an appetite. During my great-grandparents’ most memorable visits, my family lived in the Pittsburgh area, and nearly every time they visited my parents would take everyone to Eat-n-Park. Eat-n-Park is a Pittsburgh-originated restaurant chain now with locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia known for their smiley face cookies. Back when my family ate at Eat-n-Park over 20 years ago, they only had locations around Pittsburgh, and were a part of Pittsburgh’s culture. My great-grandfather loved that place. He made several trips to the brunch buffet.
I’ve been told he was also the sportsman who loved hunting and fishing. And he was a talented athlete. As an adult he played on some amateur baseball league. He was a pitcher. I recently learned one of his accomplishments was striking out Nellie Fox, a Major League Baseball player, before he was a Major League Baseball player. Honestly I had never heard of Nellie Fox, but learned he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, and when my Dad told me the story, I could tell he was impressed with this feat.
One of my great-grandfather’s happy moments was witnessing a family friend, Sid Bream, the son of his good friend, become a major league baseball player. Sid Bream played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 80s when we lived in that area, and going to one of Sid Bream’s professional games was one of the highlights of my great-grandfather’s life.
I’m not sure of his exact birthdate, but I believe he was around 73 when he died, which would make his year of birth 1916, three years before Raymond peaked at #14. The name gently declined after its peak in 1919, but held on to the top 20 through most of the 1930s, and stayed in the top 50 until 1967. In 2011 Raymond ranked at #234. This would make Raymond an underused classic today. Being the name of several Saints gives the name some clout.
Raymond wavers between cool and fusty depending on who you ask. Ray is cool, but the “mond” half is very stuffy. The cool-factor must have outweighed the fusty-factor to Jack Nicholson who gave the name to his son born in 1992.
Its usage is mostly English and French, but Raymond’s origin is German, from the Germanic Raginmund. Since my great-grandfather was of German descent, the name is fitting. The meaning is roughly “wise protector” and I believe my late great-grandmother who rarely left his side and was inconsolable after his death would agree the meaning is fitting too.
My husband Rob considered passing on the initials he shares with his father (Rich/Richard), but we couldn’t find an R name we both liked for our son. After the fact, I realized we could have passed on Raymond, but I just didn’t love the name. All is not lost though. My son’s name, Paul, is a family middle name, and it all started with my great-grandfather, Raymond Paul.
Readers: If you would like to share the story behind your great grandparent’s name, please feel free to contact us. Your submission could be a featured guest post on Upswing Baby Names. You are welcome to include a photo, but please note that we will not publish recent photos of living great grand parents. We are thrilled to receive childhood or young adult photos if they are available. If a photo is not submitted, we will search Flickr for a photo relevant to the name.