Patience. Tact. Kindness. These are some of the qualities most often mentioned by the friends of Raymond J. Smith, who passed away on February 18, 2008 at the age of seventy-seven. As the editor and publisher of the distinguished literary magazine Ontario Review and of Ontario Review Press, and as the husband of novelist Joyce Carol Oates, Ray led a rich and full life devoted not only to his work and his marriage but also to numerous friends in the Princeton area and beyond.
—Greg Johnson, Remembering Ray Smith
Yet we were here, we'd come to meet one another, and so he'd crossed the room to sit beside me, before even I had had a clear glimpse of his face I'd begun to think But this is something—someone—special….Maybe.
—and he asked me if I would like to have dinner with him that evening which was the evening of October 23, 1960, and I said yes—yes I would—and so it happened that night, and the following night, and the following night—dinner together in Madison—and one of these evenings, an impromptu dinner in Ray's little rented room on Henry Street—and we were engaged on November 23 and we were married—in Madison, in the sacristy of the Catholic chapel there—on January 23, 1961; and for forty-seven years and twenty-five days we would be together nearly every day and every night until the morning of February 11, 2008, when I drove my husband to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center; and we would speak together every day of those forty-seven years and twenty-five days until the early morning of February 18, 2008, when the call came for me, rousing me from sleep and summoning me to the hospital quickly! quickly!—"Mrs. Smith! Your husband is still alive."
—Joyce Carol Oates
Remembering Ray Smith
For those who knew Ray, however, his personal qualities are what will most be missed. On a couple of occasions I 'house-sat' for Ray and Joyce when they went on a rare extended trip, and what most stays in my memory is Ray showing me how to care for their two cats, their canary, and their plants. No detail was too small for him to discuss, and it struck me that he was a naturally nurturing person, whether dealing with animals, his garden, his authors, his friends, or his wife.
Full Text of "Remembering Ray Smith"
On Editing The Ontario Review
I see editing a magazine not as compiling but creating, and the finished product as a work of art in its own right .... the editor, for better or worse, contributes (no matter how little) to the shaping of a culture. He need not, and perhaps should not, be doctrinaire; nevertheless, he will have values—aesthetic, cultural, even moral, that will be reflected in what he chooses to publish.
—Raymond J. Smith
Full Text of "On Editing The Ontario Review"
Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time
On Henry Street lived the man I would marry, by what concatenation of chance and fate I would never comprehend, in January 1961. So soon! He lived on the ground floor of a shabby wood-frame house, in a single-room flat with its own entrance, and crowded with books, journals, papers (he was completing his Ph.D. in eighteenth-century English literature, writing a dissertation on Jonathan Swift under the direction of the eminent scholar Ricardo Quintana); this flat in which, most evenings, we prepared and ate supper together....
And I was in love, and loved! I wasn't one to torment myself with the riddle He loves me. His love is predicated upon not exactly knowing me. Am I morally obliged to enlighten him?
—Joyce Carol Oates
Full Text of "Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time"
Oates' Husband Was Quiet Voice
... he worked behind the scenes on the magazine, and as Oates' protector and shield, her sounding board and soul mate.
—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
Full Text of "Oates' Husband Was Quiet Voice"