Ray Harrison's passion for hockey has its roots in the Old St. Louis Flyers days. He became a Blues fan at the franchise's start. A native St. Louisan, he was a general contractor by trade and found a client base with the Blues and the Salomon family. He worked on projects with many of the Blues players and associates and became known as the man who could fix or build anything. From designing and building a home for Suzy Salomon, Sid Salomon's daughter, to designing a home for Glenn Hall in Western Canada, Harrison was able to mix his love for hockey with his passion for creating and building.
Harrison became involved with Mid States in 1973, the league's second season, and remained active until his death in 1985. In the earliest years Ray and his late wife, Adele, were the coordinators of the McCluer Hockey program. Ray became one of the league's Board members, served as the North Division Director and chaired the Mid State's Rules committee. He was responsible for writing and printing the rule book, coordinating and directing the out of district player pool acquisitions, dispensing playoff tickets, organizing the summer high school goaltender program, and performing public relations for the league. Ray was the driving force behind the scenes for Mid States, although not many people knew what he did. That's the way Ray wanted it. Mid States members had a saying, "if you want something done, just ask Ray and he'll get it done."
At a High School Challenge Cup game in the early 1980's, Ray met local newscaster, Tom O'Neil at his favorite concession stand. In conversation, Ray learned that Tom had a son, Brandon, who was interested in hockey but had never played before. Ray got Brandon started with the Kirkwood Youth Program at the age of 12. Brandon loved hockey but found his real passion was playing goal. When Brandon started High School he became an out of district goaltender for Kirkwood High School. His senior year he transferred to Kirkwood to finish both his education and his high school hockey career. Brandon played four years for Kirkwood and even competed at the Arena for the Challenge Cup. Through all of this Brandon was waging a battle with Leukemia. Brandon lost his battle to Leukemia on April 1987, six weeks before graduation. After his death, Tom told the Harrison family how much it meant for Ray to get Brandon involved in hockey. Tom said that Brandon had played other sports but nothing was the same as Hockey. Tom felt that Hockey was as good as any medicine Brandon had taken. Hockey had given Brandon a reason to live.
Ray was a firm believer that we need to subsidize youth hockey to ensure the continued success of the High School programs. He was concerned that the cost of playing hockey, especially the cost of playing goal would be a deterrent for many families. He wanted all kids who wanted to play to have an opportunity to play with the cost of equipment and fees somehow subsidized.
Ray would be proud of the growth of youth hockey in St. Louis. In 1973, Mid States Club Hockey Association had 8 teams. Today there are 107 teams participating in Mid States. Ray had two goals for hockey: to fill the Old Arena for the Challenge Cup, and to somehow have the ticket sales for games offset the cost of playing hockey. While the Old Arena is long gone attendance at the Challenge Cup goes up each year. Today record ticket sales at high school games throughout the season do help keep league fees low for Mid States. We may never fill the Scott Trade Center but hockey in St. Louis is definitely here to stay.
Shortly after Ray's death in 1985, his family found two plaques, handmade by him, of course. Harrison had planned to present the plaques to two of his Mid States colleagues to recognize their dedication to the league and amateur hockey. His family and Mid States decided to present these awards, as Ray had intended, at the Championship dinner just a few short weeks after his funeral. Mid States continues this tradition today and annually presents the "Ray Harrison Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to Amateur Hockey" plaque at the Challenge Cup Championship game. Mid States also continues to play their senior All-Star games in Ray's memory to signify his involvement in making those games a reality.
In 1986, Ray was posthumously awarded the Blueliners "Lynn Patrick Memorial Award" for his outstanding service to amateur hockey. He would be honored today to be included in the incredible class of individuals in the Hall of Fame; however, he would have done his best to give the credit to someone else.