The death of Ray Burns on Monday night 7/21/2014 in Macon, Missouri hit me hard. Like Richard Hamilton of Let's Talk Trains fame, whom I miss dearly to this day, Ray Burns played an important part in my life. It was Richard who brought Trainweb.com members Ray, Shivam and Steve Grande to the San Diego Club where I first met Ray. We hit it off from Day 1 and it was visits to the Trainweb.com offices in Fullerton where I saw another side of him.
Almost every time I visited him, he was playing War Games on his computer. In fact he was the first person I ever saw playing these games and he would take his time to explain it to me. I must say I was totally amazed by this. Ray started reading my web site on Trainorders.com and for over a year, kept asking me to move it to Trainweb.com. It took Todd Clark not giving more space when I started adding pictures to my web site that I told Ray I would move it.
He had Shivam set me up and I quickly became the newest member of the Trainweb family. Because of this many new doors to railroading were opened up to me and I must now thank Ray for doing that. Ray believed in me and my quest for my millionth rail mile. Trainparty.com was then created and grew most quickly. A location in the middle of the United States was needed and soon Ray and Shivam moved to La Plata, Missouri, where I made my first visit for the Trainweb.com Grand Opening on 12/09/2006.
Ray always did the talking at events as Steve Grande does not like to address crowds. Over the next four months I would reach my 1,000,000 rail mile on April 27, 2007. Ray Burns was on the platform in La Plata to shake my hand and told me that he knew I would do it. That was when the lookout point was named the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. Steve Grande later asked me how many more rail miles I would need to get 1,000,000 Amtrak miles. It came out to 67,000 more rail miles, so that was my next goal. I reached that one on April 1, 2008 and Ray was again waiting to shake my hand at the station when I arrived.
At the Silver Rail Event Center Ray Burns said this of me: "I especially want to thank Chris for coming. Trainweb has known Chris for a number of years. It took me over a year to convince Chris to move his web site to Trainweb and eventaully he did. He was as good as I thought he would be. Chris has enjoyed being with us also. He has never done us wrong and the great thing about it is that he enjoys what he is doing. I am very happy and proud that he has been with us. So Chris thank you for all you done at Trainweb and welcome aboard!" Those were some of the nicest words ever said to me and they came from a great man with a big heart. In further visits to La Plata, Ray and I would always have lunch.
The Opening of the Exhibition of Amtrak History would be my next important trip to La Plata. It seemed as though it was always winter when we held events here but Ray always had that great smile on his face. I would just call Ray every so often from home to catch up on things.
My birthday dinner at the Peach Tree Restaurant in Bevier on 12/31/2009, my 52nd birthday. Ray was at my party there.
I wanted to share this e-mail that I received.
I will miss him, too. He was a fine man, one of high ideals and values, a person to admire. From Gene Poon
Ray Burns was one of dearest friends and one I will miss for the rest of my life. Thanks for all you did for me Ray. A part of my life died with you! May God Bless you in Heaven!
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