My Story

Written by Ron McGill as told by Ray Hillard

Ray Hilliard is father of three, a Navy Veteran, and a survivor of a traumatic brain injury, but most of all, Ray is an inspiration.  He is one of the happiest, most patient, funny, and nicest people that I know.  In spite of Ray’s medical situations and T.B.I., he gets up at 5am and walks 5 miles daily.  Born July 24, 1960 in St. Louis, MO where Ray spent his first ten years of life, Ray and his family later moved to Chicago, IL.  The son of a grade school teacher, his mother also played the piano and gave a sermon on the radio in Joliet, IL.  Ray’s father was a minister.  He has two sisters and a brother, two of which live in Atlanta, GA, the other is a psychiatrist living in Los Angeles.  Ray admits that growing up in MO and IL was a little scary for him because of all the gang activity in the area. Nevertheless, Ray worked in the community getting his first job as a paperboy, his second at a local McDonald’s, and, later, he worked in the Sears Tower doing inventory.  He also played basketball (his favorite sport) and baseball in school.

At 19, Ray joined the Navy and went to boot camp in the Great Lakes area.  He became an FTG specialist, which is to say, he worked on radar systems!  He also made it to the prestigious rank of First Class.  His first assignment for duty was to the Philippines where he stayed for 5 years.  He says it’s a beautiful and amazing place, where he actually went on his first date with a Philippine native.

After the Philippines tour of duty, Ray was assigned to San Diego, CA though he also traveled to and from there to other duty stations, including three separate trips to Thailand, which he also says is an amazing place.  In San Diego Ray met the mother of his three children.  Ray has two boys and one girl.  One of the boys followed in Ray’s footsteps and is now in the Navy.  The other is a football player for LSU who you may have seen on TV because he’s a great player.  His daughter is currently a student attending college at Virginia State.

Ray is a Christian man who states that he knows that “God is good” because his strokes and the subsequent T.B.I. that followed them were a brush with death that he says only the greatness of God has gotten him through.  His blood pressure at one point was a systolic pressure of 300, a level that would end most people’s lives.

Ray’s happiest moments are when he’s around his children and he wants “everyone to always be friendly to other people.”  Ray also wanted to end this interview with the truly motivating and inspiring words of: “Never give up, and don’t limit yourself.”

One Comment

  1. Ray
    What an awesome soul you are! I am honored to have you come across my lives path!
    My belief “If he brings you to it, He’ll get you through it” . But the true possessive force to live ones life for all the days you are given comes from your inner strength, thru this you shall seek happiness, love and longevity, What a blessing to share it.
    Elissa

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