On Sunday July 21, 2008, the credit union movement lost a great leader and many of us lost a close friend with the passing of J. Raymond Curtin of Syracuse, N.Y. Ray was the CEO of Empire Federal Credit Union in Syracuse and, with John Wakefield of Power FCU, engineered the merger of those two credit unions into the present-day Empower FCU, which is currently a thriving and growing CU headed by Wakefield.

All of us who knew Ray were blessed to have a friend, because Ray wanted it that way. He was a caring professional who made the work day fun for his staff and every meeting fun for all those involved. His former and long-time assistant Kelly Sherman tearfully called him her best boss ever when I spoke to her on Monday and shared a great relationship with Ray. Despite a very productive and professional relationship, Ray would tease her constantly. Although I knew her for years, he would introduce her to me when I visited the office as Shelly, or Kelly, or whatever, and then say, “Hey it doesn’t matter, she won’t be here long!” All the while both of them would be laughing out loud.

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