Raymond John Faunt, Sr., 87, of Methuen, MA, passed away on the morning of June 8, 2021, surrounded by his family. He and the love of his life, wife Velma Marie Faunt (nee Jesser) were married for 63 years and lived in Ray’s “Castle.” Born in Sydney, Australia in 1934, to Edna May Faunt, he attended Sacred Heart School. The formative years of his life were spent in Australia against the backdrop of World War II. Industrious by nature, and in order to support his family, at the age of seven Ray worked dozens of odd jobs, including selling newspapers to U.S. service members on R&R in Sydney.
A chance meeting selling newspapers outside a Sydney pub changed Ray’s life when he met Army Air Corps Staff Sergeant Alexander Dubois from Methuen, MA. Alex’s death during the war had a profound effect on Ray; Alex would forever serve as a role model for the rest of Ray’s life. After the war, Ray and his family moved to Blackall in the Australian Outback, where he lived and worked on a small ranch with his brother, Ralph (predeceased), father, Ted Faunt (predeceased), his “mum” Edna (predeceased), and his beloved baby sister, Janice.
At 13, Ray joined the merchant marine sailing around the world for four years as an apprentice motorman and became conversant in German and Swedish. Ray was drafted into the Australian Army (Reserves) during the Korean War and served as a Sapper in the combat engineers. One of his proudest moments was being awarded the Australian National Service Medal and Australian Defence Medals at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. After Australian service, Ray went back to sea eventually enlisting in the Royal Canadian Regiment for five years while serving as an Infantryman and in Motor Maintenance. He was eventually awarded the Canadian Armed Service’s Special Service Medal. While on a trip to visit Alex Dubois’s family in Methuen, Ray met the love of his life, Velma Jesser.
Ray served in the United States Army and Air Force Reserves technician program achieving the rank of Master Sergeant in seven years. While serving 25 years in uniform (reserve and active) during a period that covered all the major events of the Cold War, Ray’s service culminated when he volunteered as a retiree recall to active duty during Operation Desert Storm. He retired with numerous awards and decorations to include the Meritorious Service Medal. His service was unique in that he honorably served in the armed services of three nations.
Ray made a civil service career switch and served as a United States Immigration Officer at Boston’s Logan Airport where he never met a stranger. His work ethic and desire to be a complete professional at his craft was unquestioned. Possessed of natural intelligence and endless amounts of energy, Ray was a force of nature, and those who met him never forgot him. He was possessed of two modes, movement and sleep, taking time off only for the newspaper, news, and family.
Ray never wasted a moment and everyday was meticulously planned and all tasks accomplished. Ray spent his weekends and off hours constantly working on his castle, his proudest achievement being Faunt’s Basement Bar, which he built and where all were invited for a drink. Festooned with trinkets from his world travels, it was his pride and joy and legendary among family and friends alike. Ray built what was possibly the first man cave in Methuen. He later became a huge New England Patriots fan, but always insisted Australian Rules football was much tougher. Ray had a huge heart and would give the shirt off his back to those in need, spending time as a young troop in Lawrence organizing Christmas parties and events for children at orphanages.
In the United States, Ray hit the jackpot when he married in to the Jesser family, gaining the likes of Wallace and Ronald Jesser, John Dángelo, Richard Leahey, and Jim Wilson as his brothers-in-law. And his sisters-in-law, Winifred, Justine, Christine, Jean (rock solid Jesser women), Kay, and Mary along with 16 nephews and nieces; it all mixed for memorable holiday parties at Sitto and Jiddo’s house. The Faunt summer barbies (barbeques) by the backyard pool were noted family events and everyone would leave chockers (full).
Ray is survived by his wife, Velma; his daughters, Nancy, Cathy; son, Ray, Jr., and Ray’s wife Kara; his grandchildren, Alphonso and his wife Ashley, Julius, Christina, Ayana, Costas, Raymond Christopher, Alexander, and Bradley; and great-grandchildren, Bear and Rafe. In Australia, he is survived by his beloved sister, Janice and her partner Debra; his nephew, Mark; and a dozen nieces and nephews. He was loved by his family and will be greatly missed by all.
In lieu of flowers, the Faunt family requests charitable donations be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend visting hours on Sunday, June 13, 2021, from 4:00-6:00 PM at Cataudella Funeral Home, 126 Pleasant Valley Street in Methuen. A funeral mass will take place on Monday, June 14, 2021, at 10:30 AM at St. Anthony Church, 145 Amesbury Street, Methuen. Burial will follow at St. Anthony Cemetery in Methuen.