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January 12, 2001

Ray Schuler remembered as 'militant visionary'

Raymond T. Schuler, founding president of The Business Council, was remembered as a "militant visionary" at a memorial service Jan. 8 at St. Mary's Church in Albany.

Schuler died Nov. 24 in Fort Myers, Florida, after an eight-year battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese celebrated a memorial Mass and delivered a eulogy. Former Governor Hugh Carey and U.S. Rep. Amo Houghton shared reminiscences during the service.

More than 250 persons attended the service and a reception afterward, including Schuler's widow, Pat, his children and grandchildren, and friends and former colleagues and staff from Schuler's life in public service and at the helm of The Business Council.

Congressman Houghton recalled his interactions with Ray were marked by Ray's commitment to, and love of, New York. Noting that the Bible "does not say, 'Blessed are the peace-lovers,'" Houghton said Schuler would be remembered for not only for his achievements but also for his unrelenting pursuit of a better New York.

"If there is a pantheon in New York State for those who built it, Ray must be in it," Governor Carey said in an anecdote-filled appreciation of about 20 minutes that was interrupted several times by laughter.

Schuler's many career achievements were made possible, Governor Carey said, by the "compelling sincerity" with which Schuler conveyed his love of New York State and his vision from making it a better state. "You had to believe what he told you," the Governor recalled.

Governor Carey recalled his first introduction to Schuler's forceful personality when the newly elected Governor met then-Commissioner of Transportation Schuler and tried, successfully, to convince Schuler to remain Commissioner.

His interactions with Schuler thereafter, Carey said, were marked by Ray's clear and often expressed love of New York State, and by Schuler's advocacy for improving the state.

Carey said Schuler traveled often with the Governor by air to show him both the beauty of New York State and the many areas in which it needed help. Recounting Schuler-driven state efforts such as improvements to Route 17 and the state-supported creation of the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University, the Governor quipped: "He held me hostage in the air until all these things were done."

Schuler's influence and larger-than-life presence in Albany made him a player of the sort that the Irish once called "the big fella," Carey said.

"We should never forget what the big fella did for New York," he added.

An obituary that details Schuler's life and achievements.