It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend, Billy Raftery. I have known Billy and his wonderful parents and siblings since I was a student at St. Viator Elementary School in the late 1960s. During my years at Bishop Gorman High School (1974-78), Billy was the most enthusiastic fan and supporter. He bled orange and blue.
Billy lived a full and flourishing life, touching the lives of countless friends and admirers who had the privilege to cross his path. Although his time with us has been brief, his personal virtues and deep love for friends, family, and community have left an indelible mark on so many of us. Here his is obituary in this morning's Las Vegas Review Journal:
WILLIAM RAFTERY William Paul "Billy" Raftery, 57, of Las Vegas, a loving son, brother and uncle, passed away suddenly May 27, 2009. He was born May 22, 1952, in Norfolk, Va., and was a 45-year resident of Las Vegas. Billy was employed as a room service waiter at Bally's Las Vegas since 1973, and was on duty during the 1980 MGM Grand fire. Although he graduated from Valley High School in 1971, he was a true-blue Bishop Gorman Gael. Billy was honored for his loyal support to the Bishop Gorman Athletic Department as the equipment manager for the football, basketball and baseball teams from 1979 through 2001. Billy's devotion to the Gaels did not end with the sports he managed, his passion for everything orange and blue emanated from him. His attendance at every Gorman sporting event possible never faltered. The two things that were most important to Billy were Gorman and his family. Billy was preceded in death by his mother, Pat Raftery; and nephew, Kyle Anderson. He is survived by his father, Jack Raftery; siblings, Jack (Kay) Raftery, Patty (Tom) Helfrich, Cathy (Kevin) McCullough, Michael (Donna) Raftery, Mary Anderson, Jim (Linda) Raftery, Keenan Raftery and Maureen (Tio) DiFederico; nieces and nephews, Molly (Mike) Mecka and Kelly Raftery, Theresa (Trent) Trutzel, Kathy and Tom Helfrich, Keenan, Ryan, Jack and Tim McCullough, Kory (Lauren) Raftery, Karli (Kyle) Daseler, Jamie, Jenna and Tyler Anderson, Jimmy Raftery, and Maggie, Sara and Samantha DiFederico; and great-nephews, Vaughn Trutzel and Mickey Raftery. Billy, you've touched all of our lives and will be deeply missed. We love you "Soulman." Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Monday, June 1, with a Rosary at 6 p.m., both at Davis Funeral Home, 6200 S. Eastern Ave. The funeral Mass will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at St. Viator Catholic Church, 2461 E. Flamingo Road. Interment will follow at Davis Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Billy Raftery Memorial Fund at Bishop Gorman High School.
I forgot to mention that Billy was born mentally challenged. But, you see, it really did not matter, since Billy was more than the sum total of his parts. He was, and is, a person made in the image of God. He lived a good life, and for that, we are all better off for having known him and having witnessed the example he set for his community.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual Light shine upon him; may his soul and all souls, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen, and Amen.