Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Crazy Ray R.I.P.

Longtime Dallas Cowboys sideline mascot Crazy Ray died this weekend of complications from diabetes at a hospice in Irving. He was 77.

Born Wilford Jones, Ray came to Dallas from Nacogdoches in the Fifties and became known as Whistlin' Ray while shining shoes at barber shops on Elm Street. At lunch time, he entertained children by making balloon animals.

In 1960, he began selling seat cushions at Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Texans games in the Cotton Bowl. Soon he began riding around on a stick pony and goofing on the visiting teams. By the Seventies, you'd frequently see him clowing around on the Texas Stadium sidelines whenever the Cowboys had a televised home game. He also showed up at Dallas Tornado soccer games at Ownby Stadium on the SMU campus.

More recently, Ray's health progressively worsened and he fell into dire financial straits. The last time I saw him was in 1999. He was rolling around the food pavillion at the State Fair on a motorized wheelchair, handing out balloon animals to kids.

Donations to Crazy Ray's family to cover funeral expenses may be made at www.savecrazyray.com.

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