I had been working on a post, but all of that has flown out the window.
This afternoon, I received word that a fellow toastmaster and Area Governor, Mr. Ray Helm had passed away just before the holidays. His Celebration of Life service would be this weekend.
It was so unexpected I actually felt numb for the rest of the working day. I knew him. I had the opportunity to meet Ray almost purely by chance just a little under one year ago when I was attending another club’s Open House and he was one of the guest speakers. If you ever wanted to get a good laughing workout, I would hedge a bet Ray was the man to call upon. In his speech, he had the entire room rolling on the ground laughing as he reenacted his first experiences with Toastmasters’, spit flying from his mouth.
From that speech I gathered:
- I was glad I had opted not to sit in the front row.
- Ray had an energy and passion in his speech that I could only hope to someday achieve.
- He was one of those people who made me go “when I grow up [as a public speaker] I want to be just like him.”
I saw him at least twice more. Once was in the summer for a Toastmasters’ BBQ where I was fortunate enough to meet him and his wife. The last time was actually at the District 21 Humorous Contest, I could see where he was sitting in the audience, but regrettably I don’t ever recall getting the chance to find him afterwards and chat with him for a few minutes. I never knew that would be the last time I would see him, I always figured I would see him again the future at some Toastmasters’ event.
I’ll always remember this enthusiasm, and his passion for public speaking. I’ll always remember his smile and encouragement; whenever you volunteered to go up give a table topics (for example) his warm smile and booming cheer made you feel like you just made him the proudest person in the room. And that made you want to go that one step further in your journey of public speaking. It is so difficult now to think I’ll never see him again. I keep thinking I’ll see him at the next training event, the next Toastmasters’ get-together that is held, or even next years’ contest.
May you Rest in Peace, Mr. Helm. It was an honour to have met you.