Remembering Ray Pelletier
February 17, 2018
Ray Pelletier relished his role at JSI and World Education. His job was to help people to be fulfilled in their jobs while coordinating our benefits, upholding the reputation of each company, and dealing with the tragedies and mishaps that befell our staff over the years. This he did with humor and grace.
Ray was born in Phoenix, Arizona, where he lived until he was five. From there it was Massachusetts, all the way until he and his husband Scott retired to Florida so they could be near Ray's daughters and grandchildren.
Although Ray spent more than 20 years with JSI, he had a surprisingly varied career history. He held degrees in business, aviation sciences, and finance. He managed a flight school and was a part-time flight attendant. He even did a stint as a Department of Defense contractor, but we never held that against him.
In 1993, Ray came to the JSI and World Education accounting team, joining his younger sister Juli. When he became HR director in 1995, Ray was not only the first—he was the only—person on his team. Single-handedly, Ray built a human resources department that today supports more than 2,900 staff across 107 offices in 46 countries.
For many years, Ray took over when Santa couldn’t make it to the the Boston children’s holiday parties (although the kids wondered why Santa was so trim, the adults never minded because Santa Ray always had a quip for them).
When Ray retired from JSI/World Ed in 2016, he took a big piece of its heart with him. Colleagues from around the world wrote to bid him adieu. Their words, excerpted below, help to convey the wonder of Ray and the tremendous loss of his presence, in happiness then, and in mourning now.
“Ray: I am going to miss you immensely. I have truly valued both your friendship and professional guidance all these years. You are kind, thoughtful, open-minded, and serene — basically just a wonderful person. I wish you only happiness in the new chapter of your life.”
“Your leadership in HR has been fundamental to making JSI such a great place to work. We could always count on you to try to make the regulations and system work for the staff of JSI instead of only for the company which is, unfortunately, how many agencies seem to orient their HR management. May you enjoy an extra share of love, understanding and compassion in the years ahead. Namaste — a deep bow to the light in you.”
“Dear Ray, when I became seriously ill a few years ago, you brought me into your office, sat me down, and made it clear that World Ed would be by my side as I fought for my health. You acted like you had all the time in the world for me, like there was really nothing else at all happening in the whole wide universe. Now… that is exactly how *I* was feeling. But you joined me in that place for a moment, and I won't forget it. Thank you. And bon voyage.”
“Ray, I truly believe you have a special gift of empathy and human kindness. There are moments of life when one needs someone to just listen or send a life line; there are those who can do that with a kind word or just an acknowledgement of what is truly happening. As the director of HR, you have done that time and time again, with so many people. You have touched so many of us with your kindness. You have opened up your heart and offered us encouraging words.”
“It's hard to believe that we won't get to have you around here any longer. And it's impossible to really convey just how much you mean to me (and everyone else here, I have no doubt). Beyond the very obvious fact that you are the best HR director in the history of HR — you really are, you know — and the best Santa ever, you're one if the best people I've ever been lucky enough to know.”
“Your presence at JSI supported thousands of staff in many countries and helped us to be productive, safe and happy. You have always been very kind and supportive. I especially appreciate how you remember the small things about my family. You are always happy to see me when I come to visit home office and when you came out to India, and you always think to ask how various of my family members are doing. It seems like such a small thing, but it means a lot.”
“(Ray) has been the pillar on which I could lean anytime I had something happening in my own family. Ray, I just don't want this to sound as a eulogy, but I will miss you. Enjoy your second life with your grandchildren, and I will again, as usual, consult you later on how you manage things after work obsession is over…”
“Dear Ray, You have been a guiding light to me throughout my journey at JSI. From being my first office mate to wisely helping me through many sticky personnel situations to supporting me personally through my own various issues ...While we search for your "replacement," please know that no one will ever replace you in my heart.”
“Your generous, warm, and kind heart and sparkling presence will be missed at JSI in the years to come. Wishing you so much joy as you enter this next wonderful phase in your life. We look forward to staying in touch with you — perhaps you will return for the Children's Christmas Party — you are the only Santa my daughters have ever known.”
Ray Pelletier died peacefully on February 16, 2018, surrounded by loved ones, including his husband Scott Stewart, sister Juli, and friend Jim. He also leaves daughters Brittany Revenaugh and Briana Conlan-King and three grandchildren.