Battling Bruin: Ray

Posted August 2014

It was in 1945 when Ray Hammeras, a former Navy pilot, entered UCLA to study engineering. Pledging Beta Theta Pi, Ray would become best friends with fellow fraternity brother, Roy Gaunt. Known in the Beta House as Worm #1 and Worm #2, Ray and Roy were typical college students – they cheered enthusiastically from the student section at the football games and supported the Bruins at all of the home basketball games. And…kept an eye out for girls. Ray began dating Jeany, a UCLA student and secretary to legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. Continuing to fly to retain his license and as Navy Reservist, Ray would swoop down in an SNJ and fly in between Royce Hall and Powell Library and over the flagpole at the end of the grass to impress his girlfriend.

After graduating in 1949, Ray continued to cheer on the Bruins for years as a season ticket holder and can brag that he never missed a Bruin Breakfast before every football game. Ray married Jeany and their son, Kent, attended UCLA.

In 2013, Ray fractured his skull during a fall while working out at the gym. With a shattered skull, blood began pooling in his brain affecting both his motor and speech ability. Emergency brain surgery was performed. Tragically, his beloved wife, Jeany, who had been suffering from a lingering illness, died soon after Ray returned home from the hospital.

Not only was Ray in tremendous pain from surgery but he now faced months of physical therapy all the while trying to cope with the loss of Jeany. Never giving up, Ray has battled though pain and emotional heartbreak to regain his motor functions.

Ray now lives at an assisted care home and his neighbor two doors down is none other than Roy, his best friend and roommate on fraternity row more than sixty five years ago. Ray and Roy continue their love of UCLA and Bruin athletics and you are sure to find the two of them planted in front of the TV watching every televised event.

At 88 years of age, Ray continues to push forward and shares how “people still need me here.” Whether it is his five children, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends or the UCLA Bruins, all people who have been touched by Ray can feel his endless love and enthusiasm for life. The UCLA Spirit Squad is proud to present this month’s Battling Bruin, Ray Hammeras.

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