Br. Raymond W. Upton, S.J. (1923 - 2007)
Subminister of the Jesuit Community at Loyola Marymount University
Brother Ray Upton, S.J. was born in Quail, Texas on June 23, 1923. Many years later, after moving to Selma, California, he was baptized a Catholic. Ray was one of the "little people." With his short stature, he was able to move about within aircraft, installing wiring in bombers at an aircraft assembly plant in Los Angeles during WWII. On June 22, 1948, exactly 59 years from the day he died, he entered the Society of Jesus, where he began his novice years. Among the Jesuits, he was often affectionately known as "Uppie."
While at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, in Los Gatos, California, he worked as an electrician and mechanic, utilizing abilities that made him a valuable member of the many Jesuit institutions where he has lived. Among his various other careers, he has served as Administrative Assistant to the Principal at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, and later as Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds; he was a book binder and electrician at the Jesuit theologate in Alma California; he worked in a Jesuit high school in Australia; and again as a Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at the Jesuit Retreat House in Los Altos. He was also, for a time, the Treasurer for the new Jesuit Novitiate at Santa Barbara.
But since 1992, he found his dream job, handling all of the day-to-day physical needs, be they mechanical, electrical, or otherwise, of the large Jesuit Community at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He was always on call, always generous. Each day, he dealt with the maintenance workers of the University, the secretaries, the receptionists - "all those who get things done," he would say.
Ray lived long beyond his expected years, because he was determined and tough. And that toughness showed in his determination to solve problems. Because he was short, he could not drive an ordinary car. So he invented a device that would assist all small drivers. With his background in electronics from the Cleveland Institute of Electronics, he rigged a set of extensions that would allow "little people" to reach the clutch, brake and gas pedals. The device has a patent still pending, but he used it himself successfully for many years in five different vehicles.
One of his fellow Jesuits has remarked, "He entered the Jesuits from having installed wiring inside bombers. Over the years, he has installed more miles of communication lines in Jesuit institutions than he ever put into those planes." He also installed in those same institutions much charity, much faith, and much crusty good humor.
Br. Ray died on June 22, 2007, at Marina Del Rey California, at age 83. He had been a Jesuit for 59 years.