Ray Allan Frieden

Ray Allan Frieden, 77, of Essex, Massachusetts, died April 27, 2021, at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers after living with dementia for many years. In 2008, he survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Born on Halloween 1943 in Galveston, Texas, Ray was the first of five children born to Edward H. Frieden, a biochemist, and Betty Frieden (née Barnett), a librarian. When he was very young, he and his family moved to Massachusetts, where Ray resided for the rest of his life.

Ray was in the first graduating class of Newton South High School and attended Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics followed by a master’s degree in architecture from the Graduate School of Design. He was an exceptional athlete on the track and football teams in high school and college, and he held state records in both shot put and discus, achievements his youngest son Ben shared with him. Ray’s family and friends liked to brag about his appearance on the April 25, 1969, cover of “Life” magazine standing in support of striking Harvard students.

After graduating from Harvard, Ray and his wife, Nancy, spent two years serving in the Peace Corps in Iran, where their first son, Marc, was born. While in Iran, Ray worked as a city planner for the Ministry of Interior. After returning from Iran, his first job was as a designer/researcher at Lelanite Corp., where Marc works today. Later, he worked for Cambridge Seven Associates, followed by a stint as the town of Plymouth’s planning director from 1973 to 1983. During his time as planning director, Ray was proud to host a man-on-the-street-style radio show on WPLM, an unusual side gig for a high-ranking town official. In Plymouth, Nancy and Ray rounded out their family with two more devoted sons, Gilbert and Benjamin. After Plymouth, he ran his own real estate consulting firm, Planning & Design Associates.

In the early ’90s, Ray and his brother Bob worked together at LearningWays, a computer startup that produced innovative educational software for young children. In 1994, he began working for the Massachusetts Bureau of Housing, eventually becoming director of the Bureau of Housing Development and Construction. He managed projects to renovate subsidized housing throughout Massachusetts and was rightly proud of his innovative solutions. He retired in 2013. Ray was a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners as well as the Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors. He also served on the Conservation Commission for the City of Worcester.

Ray was the firstborn of his generation, which included 21 first cousins with whom he remained close. He is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Nancy (née Perry); three sons; daughters-in-law Becky Frieden and Hannah Surabian; and grandchildren Sophie, Hannah, Theron Ray, and Gessa. He is also survived by siblings Jeanne Frieden (Victor Aronow); Robert Frieden (Norma Frieden); Roger Frieden (Kathryn Frieden); and Joyce Frieden Rosenthal (Greg Rosenthal), as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Ray had a big smile and a bigger heart. He was quick-witted and loving with his grandchildren, and he enjoyed making them laugh. He also loved making kites to fly on the beach and going out on boats.

A passionate lifelong fisherman, Ray loved to visit Sumner Brook Fish Farm in Ossipee, New Hampshire, where some of his ashes will be scattered. His ashes will also be interred at the Spring Street Cemetery in Essex. A memorial service will be scheduled for a later date. Donations may be made in Ray’s memory to SeniorCare Inc. at https://seniorcareinc.org/donate/. Please direct your donation to the “Money Management” program at SeniorCare. SeniorCare is the organization in Gloucester that provided Meals on Wheels to Ray, and that recommended Day by Day, the adult day care he enjoyed for years. SeniorCare also hosted a caregiver support group that Nancy and Gil relied on. Ray’s son Gil is the manager of the Money Management program at SeniorCare.


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

22 Condolences

  1. Bob and Kathy Derosier on April 30, 2021 at 6:45 am

    Marc and Becky and family our deepest sympathies for the loss of your father.

  2. Anne Gaine on April 30, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    So sorry to learn of your beloved Ray’s passing.
    His obituary speaks to what an accomplished and extraordinary person he was, wearing many hats.
    May the love that you shared continue to warm your heart and the memories of a full life together comfort you at this difficult time.

  3. Gay Roberts on May 1, 2021 at 1:40 am

    Prayers for you Nancy and for your family. Ray was a wonderful man. He leaves you with many wonderful memories.

  4. Donna (Layport) Bosworth on May 1, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Big hugs for you, Nancy. I will always remember his big smile.

  5. Liz Thomas on May 2, 2021 at 12:51 am

    I am so sorry to hear of Ray’s passing, but what an incredible life he led! Sending love and prayers to Nancy and their entire family.

  6. ann gibbons smith on May 2, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Nancy and Family,

    Ray was the BEST!

  7. ann gibbons smith on May 2, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Nancy and Family

    Ray was the BEST!

  8. Joanna on May 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    Beautiful tribute. Full disclosure: N & G- I just learned so many things I didn’t know about your amazing Husband/Dad! Reading this now absolutely makes me wish I had gotten to have some chats with him when I was older than 12! Love & hugs to all of you xoxo -joanna

  9. Susan Doughty on May 4, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Such a loving, devoted family was created by this man. Blessings to all.

  10. Ruth Lindsay on May 4, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    Such a beautiful story of a very special man who touched so many lives in incredible ways. Sending you my deepest condolences, Gil and family.

  11. Nancy Leavitt on May 4, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    Ray sounded like an amazing person.. I am sorry I never had the chance to know him and hear the stories he could tell about all the great things he accomplished. My sincere sympathies to Nancy and Gil and the rest of the family. Fondly, Nancy Leavitt

  12. George Carpenter on May 5, 2021 at 1:06 am

    Mrs Frieden, Marc, Gil, Ben, and families..

    I cannot in words tell you how I feel…Mr Frieden was a good man and I am a better person to have known him.

    I love you all and understand the loss…the best part is we will meet again…So it’s not good bye, it is until we meet again…

    God bless. Love The Carpenter Family

  13. Steve Mullin on May 5, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Thanking God for the gift of his life, I pray he now is at Peace. Appreciation to Nancy, Gill and family, for allowing myself, and all the Hospice team, into your bustling home. It was a pleasure to meet him and an honor to serve your family.

  14. Linda Katsudas on May 5, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Dear Family, I had the honor of working with Ray at DHCD. I’m a project manager, and would have many discussions with Ray about projects I was working on. He was sharp, and gave good, concise answers to work through some issues.
    Work colleagues are interesting, because not only do you work together, but you become close and friendly with each other. Ray and I had many talks about his whole family and mine. I am truly sorry for your loss. But feel lucky that our paths crossed in life. Linda Katsudas

  15. Christine DeVore on May 5, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    My deepest sympathy is extended to you all. I worked with Ray at DHCD. Ray had a strong commitment to and contributed to programs and policies that ensured the preservation of public housing. He and I spent time having philosophical conversations and lively debates about public housing as well as conversations about importance of family and friends. My fondest memory of Ray is when my 3 year old daughter was at the office with me, he came to say hi and the next thing I knew he was entertaining her by making a kite out if office supplies, decorating it with her and then taking her out to the Plaza to fly the kite. Her excitement was undeniable as was Rays! Rest in Peace Ray.

  16. Melanie Loveland on May 5, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Dear Frieden Family, I am so sorry for your loss. I worked with Ray at DHCD and he never failed to lift my spirits. Please accept my condolences.

  17. edward roche aia. on May 7, 2021 at 4:29 am

    Farewell my friend….. irony ……. i had a dream and thought of Ray………. He was a kind soul…….rip .

  18. Diane on May 14, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    I send my sincerest condolences to the Frieden family. I know how challenging these last years have been, your devotion to this dear man shone brightly. I hope you find peace in his passing knowing that he has found peace.

  19. Christine & Thomas on May 14, 2021 at 11:03 pm

    Condolences to the family from Christine and Thomas from friends of Gil’s from LA

  20. Christine & Thomas on May 14, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    Condolences to the family from friends of Gil’s from LA

  21. Bob on May 27, 2021 at 2:27 am

    Two or three memories of Ray. Fishing together at the old Carlings plant along Route 9 in Natick. Ray would bring a good supply of worms that helped us catch many bluegills.

    We attended grade school, junior high and high school together.

    Ray also introduced me to a fabulous science fiction book about a young boy who gets stranded on Earth before finally finding a way to return home. Basically an engaging story years and years before ET was filmed.

    Alas, we lost track of each other when we moved on with our lives.

    My condolences to Ray’s family. We lost a good man.

  22. Art Davis on November 29, 2022 at 11:03 am

    I just learned of Ray’s passing (November 2022) from a Peace Corps publication. We were Peace Corps Volunteers together in Iran 1969-1971. At our training camp in Colorado Ray and I would occasionally skip a training activity to fish the small trout stream that flowed by the camp. Later Nancy stopped by to visit my wife Pat and I while I was a graduate student at Kansas State University. The last time I saw Ray was a dinner in Massachutes with he, Nancy, and my younger daughter (At the time a student at Mt. Holyoke College) in the early 2000’s. Fond memories of a good friend. Sorry to hear of his passing.
    Art Davis

Leave a Condolence