I have learned, with great sadness, of the death of Raymond J. Smith, who was for more than 30 years editor of Ontario Review, as well as Ontario Review Press; and for more than 45 years beloved husband of Joyce Carol Oates. JCO wrote frequently and lovingly of Ray in her recently published Journal.

FIC10 Oates.tif

Ray’s thoughts, both practical and philosophical, on publishing a literary magazine can be found in “On Editing The Ontario Review.”

In her article “Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time,” JCO recounts her life as a graduate student during the time when she met and married Ray. Mostly about her difficulties with insomnia and the academic culture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the article by the end reveals its glowing secret heart to be Ray.

JCO took Ray’s name as the basis of one of her pen names, Rosamond Smith, under which she wrote mystery-thrillers all dealing with twins, doubles, soul-mates.

Chicago Tribune cultural critic Julia Keller on Raymond Smith: “he worked behind the scenes on the magazine, and as Oates’ protector and shield, her sounding board and soul mate. ”

Obituary: New York Times


 

Randy Souther

I'm a Reference Librarian at the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library, and I run the Joyce Carol Oates web site, Celestial Timepiece.

14 Comments »

  1. I feel very sorry for Joyce Carol Oates’ loss of her beloved husband, Raymond Smith. This must be a time of great grievance for her to have lost her soul mate of 45 years’ happy marriage.

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  2. Ray Smith was a very good man: highly intelligent, hard-working, generous, and kind. I was lucky to know him for 30 years; we were friends and neighbors in Princeton. As editor and publisher of The Ontario Review and Ontario Review Press, he was dedicated, patient, and very serious about publishing good writing and, on a smaller scale, good works of visual art. As a person, he was warm, easy-going, gentlemanly, and perceptive. And, for nearly half-a-century, he was truly devoted to his wife, and she to him. That Ray Smith is gone now feels not only very sad but simply unfair. The best antidote to our shared sense of loss is, I think, to remember all that Ray was as a man and all that he gave lovers of literature as an editor, publisher, and helpmate to his greatly gifted wife.

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  3. This is very sad news. Does anyone know if Joyce’s publisher will accept condolence cards on her behalf? My condolences to Ms. Oates and all who knew and loved Ray Smith.

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  4. I am so sorry to learn of Professor Smith’s passing. They were together such a long time. The marriage seems like it was happy which is so rare today. God Bless JCO.

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  5. I have been a fan of JCO for almost 40 years. I went to her lectures in Buffalo, New York with Raymond sitting in the audience. I feel so close to her I would like to tell her: “You think you will never get any better and that you will have to live like this, hurting . But one day you will turn around and find the pain is lifting and that you really can stand this world again without your darling in it.

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  6. I just finished “The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates 1973–1982” and it is abundantly clear how deeply Ms Oates and Raymond Smith loved one another. How rare in today’s world. I hope it won’t be long before Ms Oates can celebrate what a wonderful gift she possesses for having married her “twin.”

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  7. Dear Joyce Carol Oates,

    I am saddened to hear about your loss. Kindly accept my condolences.

    best regards,

    Olafur Gunnarsson
    Reykjavik, Iceland.

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  8. I am shocked to learn the loss of Raymond Smith. When I visited Princeton University in 1984, I had occasions of meeting Ms Oates and Raymond Smith, and very deeply impressed how good he is, and how great a help for her.
    God Bless JCO.

    Akiko Suzue
    Tokyo, Japan

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  9. Dear Joyce Smith

    I am truly sorry to hear about your loss. Please accept my condolences. May the love your husband gave to you always live in your heart.

    Take care.

    Sebastien Bernard
    Paris, France

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  10. I’m in the midst of a college class that involves study of women who write Good Books. Naturally, JCO is on ‘the list’ of choices for our little 15-minute in-class ‘presentations’.

    how does one describe remarkable people in 15 minutes?

    It’s impossible!
    That’s why I picked someone Contemporary.
    I have the advantage of being able to say: “put down your pencils; don’t write notes…just Listen.
    When one writes as well as she, the internet is loaded with information; the good writer begets even more writing!

    This website address will be the one thing I’ll ask that they write down.

    Even with so many resources available at the touch of a button, the real pleasure was having the actual Books in Hand.

    Right up until this moment, I pictured Joyce and Raymond enjoying the fruits of their labors, together. Suddenly, having an exact up-to-the minute count of How Many books of Each Type seems not to matter so much as reflection upon:

    the world has been blessed because two extremely talented wordSmiths found each other, shared a home, shared a life, and gave us small glimpses of the value of real Devotion.

    -Poulsbo, Washington

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  11. I was very sorry to hear about the death of Raymond Smith and the impact this had on Joyce Carol Oates.

    I began reading her works when I was 16. I was transfixed by them, a work that resembled my own life and background in many ways.

    I kept reading Oates throughout my young adult life and her stories of young women who not only survived but rose to new heights in their personal psychological struggles were uplifting and a form of therapy for me.

    I have all her works and still read her today at the age of 55. She continues to be a literary force and magnet to someone like me who, as a psychologist, understands the psychological life that is challenged by family conflicts and traumatic events that were larger than themselves and that most individuals have no control over.

    My sincerest condolences to Joyce Carol Oates.

    A devoted fan,

    K. Walters

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