Ray Fogarty: One of Bryant’s Best Lays to Rest


Between the day you are born and the day you pass away, there may simply be a dash to represent that “in between” period on your gravestone – a dash similar to the one in this sentence. It may just be a dash between two dates, but this dash symbolizes much more when you consider everything that person meant to you and to others. If you think about it, that dash represents all the time you spent here in this life on Earth, with the people you loved, the people who loved you too, the things you did, and maybe even the things you didn’t do, but wanted to. Most importantly, that dash represents the impact your life had on other lives. Everyone who passes away leaves memories behind that are meant to be cherished, yet only a few leave legacies that are meant to be followed.

Raymond Fogarty was a man who made that dash bolder, brighter, and bigger than others. Along with an enormous legacy left for students and business professionals alike, Ray is survived by his beloved wife of 33 years, Phoebe, and his 4 children: Raymond, Margaret, Michael, and Joseph. Ray was born on June 26, 1957 and entered into eternity on September 27, 2018. His services were held on the following Tuesday and Wednesday, where hundreds of Ray’s friends, colleagues, and students attended.

In just 61 years of life, so much was done and so much was accomplished – yet so little was said due to the immeasurable amount of humility in his heart. An overview of Ray’s life is difficult to make brief, but those close to him know he would have summed it all up as “I was here to help!”

Ray was a lifelong resident of Harmony, Rhode Island. He was also an alumnus of Bryant College class of 1979. It was clear that Ray had a global perspective of how things worked; a characteristic which his colleagues noticed, many referring to him as a “a pioneer who was ahead of his time.” Ray took that perspective and instilled it in others throughout this state and throughout this university. Ray dedicated more than 35 years of time and energy to the growth and development of Bryant University, small and medium-sized businesses in Rhode Island, and international trade in the United States.

Ray served as a Rhode Island State Representative from 1983-1992. Along with his role as a politician, Ray was also the associate director of Rhode Island Small Business Development Center at that time. In 1983, Ray utilized that global perspective he had and began to offer international services for local small businesses. This was the start of something big for the small state of Rhode Island.

In 1986, Ray was crucial in launching World Trade Day – a trade show the likes of which Rhode Island had never seen before that time. 2019 will mark the 34th annual World Trade Day. The event has grown to become a conference that hosts more than 600 attendees to promote trade missions and discuss industry trends – all of which takes place here at Bryant University in May. In 1988, Ray founded the Rhode Island Export Assistance Center at Bryant University to promote, enhance, train, and consult companies that were engaging in international trade activities. In that same year, Ray assisted in the formation of NASBITE (National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators) as well as the creation of credentials for Certified Global Business Professionals.

Ray began to expand his advocacy efforts for trade outside of his home state. In 1999, while Ray was the chair of the board of directors at the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, he helped form the Eastern Trade Council to further accelerate the development of trade policy in this region. Along with serving on the State Trade International Development Organization, Ray created proposals to assist the U.S. Small Business Administration to develop their program for State Trade Export Promotion. Ray believed the United States would benefit from trade, but also that the rest of the world could too. Considering trade wars and renegotiations, the world of trade is currently in a state of uncertainty – professionals and politicians with a perspective like Ray are needed now more than ever to advocate for proper trade policy.

Aside from all those political or professional positions held, Ray still felt he had more to give. As a man involved in his community, Ray was the co-chair of the Harmony Hill School Capital Campaign, co-chair of the Foster-Glocester Building Committee, a moderator for the Glocester Fire Department, chair of the Small Business Loan Fund, co-chair of the Rhode Island Industrial Facilities Program, Chief Steward for the Sons of Irish Kings, and also served on the board of a foundation for people with disabilities – founded by his late uncle, Congressman John Fogarty. One position that made him happiest was coaching his children’s local sports teams. As a loving husband and father, Ray was quoted saying “As nice as it is to travel, there is nothing better than coming home.”

The Rhode Island Export Assistance Center at Bryant University later became the John H. Chafee Center for International Business – as it still is to this day. The Chafee Center collaborates with the Senior International Business Practicum for students to work on semester-long consulting projects with businesses. Ray had reflected on why he founded the Center within the world of academia, specifically at Bryant, as opposed to starting the business elsewhere. Ray’s heartwarming reflection went something like this “I wanted to do something meaningful here, I didn’t want to make money if there wasn’t any meaning behind it.” Aside from the businesses that the Center consulted for international business expansion, Ray used those connections to help many students find careers for reputable organizations across the globe. Ray was recognized as Bryant’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1991, honored with the NASBITE International John Otis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, and received the U.S. Commerce President’s E Star Award for Export Service in 2016 as well.

When you truly think about all these things Ray did, he did it for the greater good of those around him. Ray was a passionate people person, and he used that natural ability to benefit and connect others – not for himself. We all could learn something from the values Ray exemplified of hard work, humility, a sense of humor, a global perspective, and respect.

As a mentor, Ray taught countless professionals and students what business is truly about. Business is about forming and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Business is about showing results that exceed expectations. Business is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Business is about learning something new every day. Business is about finding and providing opportunity. Business is about adding real value to the world, not just making money for yourself. Ray had the mentality and the personality that showed if someone else thought otherwise, then they weren’t really doing good business.

Thank you now and forever Ray. You did it, you helped, and more than most. I hope you lay to rest knowing you made the world around you a better place. It’s time for us to do our part.