Profile: Ray Harmon

By Mike Thomas

My friend Ray Harmon... First and foremost he was “the world’s oldest juvenile delinquent”, and I say that with deep feeling, humor, respect, admiration and real love. He could walk into an ongoing bank robbery and have the robber laughing and dropping his weapon; everybody laughing and going home; and then he might pick up the bag of loot, turn to the teller and ask if he/she could deposit it in his personal account, with those blinking blue eyes... and you know what? They just might do it!

One time around 1999, Paul Dietz, Joel Elliot and I joined up at Ray’s place. Joel had a colt and I had a green horse, with Paul and Ray better mounted. That day, I will never forget for the rest of my life. To have that much fun is probably illegal in some parts of this world! Ray formed bonds between horses and people. His sense of humor was unending and unpredictable. A man of substance, honesty, integrity, and real feel for his compadres in life! His devotion to family was even greater.

We all watched him suffer with Parkinson’s Disease. He always made fun of it, talking about how "addicted to drugs" he was, but he grinned all the way through it, and I really don’t think he ever felt sorry for himself. This is because he'd survived things that were more immediately life-threatening, including a major electrocution far greater than that administered in an electric chair! His Parkinson’s might have him shaking at lunch and he'd tell the waitress that he was just "warming up for the dance tonight at the Vet’s Club!"

He was a horseman; he really could rope; he was a hand!

Typical of Ray: He got me really good with his way. When riding with him once he asked: "How old are you?" I said I was born in 1940. He said: "Oh I’m much younger than you are." It was only at his funeral that I discovered that he was 6 months OLDER than me! He'd gotten me one more time! I will miss him pillaging Buck Brannaman's trailer, turning bits around backwards and other stunts.

Since Ray is gone, I guess it is up to me to take over the honor of the "world's oldest juvenile delinquent!" He left a big pair of boots to fill. I will give it my best!

Ray and I both grew up in Tucson, Arizona as kids but never really met until later years. I will miss my friend. We could have had much more fun if we met in the early years, but then we both might have had to spend time in reform school.

The funeral was overwhelming. I quit counting after 500 people. That says a lot about our friend and horseman.

Vaya con dios Amigo!