Wellness Wednesday: To Ray Massucco

Update: the Brattleboro Reformer posted this article upon Ray’s passing

*****

A few hours ago, I learned that Attorney Ray Massucco died unexpectedly yesterday.  The news made me double over in shock.

I can’t say that Ray and I were close friends.  Over the years, I don’t think we’ve seen each other anywhere other than at a VBA meeting or the annual meeting of the Windham County Bar Association.

Still, Ray was my friend.  

We often communicated about issues related to legal ethics and professional responsibility. In recent years, I came to admire Ray’s commitment to both wellness and civility. Ray knew (and modeled) that there was nothing inconsistent with providing competent representation to his clients and treating all involved with his clients’ matters with respect.  Ray was also a stalwart supporter of efforts to improve the well-being of the legal profession. 

Ray will be missed.  In his own way, he’s helping me to process the news.  Memories of his inimitable recitation of the minutes of the WCBA’s annual meetings bring me a smile even so soon after learning that he passed.

I don’t know how properly to honor Ray.  So, I’ll leave the words to him.

Last spring, I sent out an email asking lawyers to participate in Well-Being Week in Law.  Ray was among the recipients and forwarded my email to many lawyers that he knew. In addition, he shared with me an email that he had recently sent to a blogger that he followed. The blogger had asked Ray how he defined “success,” and whether, in Ray’s view, his law practice was successful.  Ray informed me that his response to the blogger demonstrated how he practiced wellness.  Here it is:

“When I came to clerk here in 1972, my boss and later partner told me three things:

1. You’ll never be bored if you decide to stay here.

2. You’ll never have two days the same.

3. You’ll never get rich practicing law in a small town in Vermont. [yet, he died a multi-millionaire 33 years ago]

I would have been content with 2 out of 3. But, ‘rich’ is relative. I only put on a tie for in person court appearances. Clients may get an email from me at 11:00pm and another one at 5:00am, because that is when I might be working. On the other hand, on a nice afternoon in the summer, I may be on one of my two motorcycles or in my canoe or my kayak. At any time of the year, I might be in a yoga or tai chi class. 3-4 times a year my wife and I go to NYC for a few days. We summer on the coast of Maine. When we retire we will spend 4-5 months a year in Friday Harbor, San Juan Is. WA where our oldest daughter and her family have a vacation home. I’m the coordinator for volunteer staffing for our beautiful 1927 Art Deco, 553 seat Opera House here in Bellows Falls. I don’t have a lot of material wealth, but I am rich beyond measure. 

Over the last 50 years, I’ve chaired almost every local organization, sat on every non-profit board, held too many elected offices to count and managed not to get shot at.

My schedule is my own, I’m in good health after having a full left shoulder arthroplasty last November, I just finished renovating my 220 year old office building, my paralegal has been with me for 38 years and her daughter works here part time, my 33 year old partner is stunningly brilliant [high school dropout, only has one eye, once went 100 days in Vermont not wearing shoes to see what it felt like, spent time on a fish farm in Israel, worked at a garlic collective in CA, has lived all over the world and passed the bar by “reading the law” for 3.5 years with me and one other firm for 8 months. Won his first Vermont Supreme Court appeal less than a year after passing the bar. My 68 year old office manager once ran a 1000 member weaver’s guild, has a daughter who is a Federal judge and is in training to become a Buddhist monk.

I honestly don’t remember how I came across your email list. It could have been from ClioCon, or The Lawyerist or one of the several other legal blogs I follow. We close the office for a full two weeks over Christmas – New Years. I took my entire office to San Diego for a week in 2019 and we’re all going to Nashville for a week in October. Other area lawyers always blast me for shutting down for extended periods of time and posting about it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter [although if the Musk deal goes through, I’m done with Twitter] because their staffs read about it and want to know why they can’t do the same. I need to up my game on TikTok, however.

Hope you are well and that this answers your questions and that you enjoy reading.”

Ray signed off “be well Mike.” 

You too my friend, you too.

Here’s to Ray Massucco.

7 thoughts on “Wellness Wednesday: To Ray Massucco

  1. Mike-

    I’m saddened to learn of Ray’s death. We took the bar exam the same year and it was always a pleasure to see him, however infrequently. Your tribute to him was beautiful and raises important questions about what is success and how we should live our lives.

    Thanks.

    Best regards, Glenn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike, your post literally made me cry. Second day in row hearing bad news about a fellow VT attorney, even though I don’t think I ever had the pleasure of meeting Ray. Just got back from two weeks away and was second guessing that vacation given the stress of workload after being away. Your post showed me we need to make ourselves as important as the work we do for others. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Still in shock as he was posting just yesterday. He just really loved and appreciated life, humor, music and connection and I’m better for having known him. RIP Ray you will be missed. Thank you sooooo much for sharing his written story. Classic Ray celebrating life. Thanks Mike and be well!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike,
    Well said. Ray and I go back to 6th grade in parochial school. Let’s
    not forget his devotion to his brother among all of his other deeds
    and accomplishments.

    Like

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