In Memoriam Ray Raineri (1938-2015)

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Oakland Heritage Alliance (OHA) community has lost a guiding light with the passing of local historian and tour leader Raymond Raineri. Ray, as he was popularly known, devoted himself to collecting memories of his childhood North Oakland neighborhood, and his Italian American heritage. Following his retirement, Ray's enthusiasm for North Oakland and Temescal history found a wide range of outlets including curating numerous exhibits at the History Room at the Oakland Main Library, and contributing articles to local newspapers such as the Piedmonter and the Montclarion.

Ray led the popular OHA summer walking tours of Temescal for several years and he co-authored the publication, "A Walk Through Temescal," a self-guided tour pamphlet, published by OHA in 1997.

According to fellow Temescal resident Jeff Norman, who worked with Ray on many projects, Ray had amassed a very large collection of historic photographs of North Oakland and he generously shared his collection and knowledge with one and all.

He was excited to take part in the Oakland Technical High School Centennial Project this past year and was a proud alumnus of Tech. He also attended and graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in Sociology.

Ray's expertise ranged from early public transit in Oakland (the Key System trains and ferries) to the Oakland Oaks baseball team, to the city's Italian American heritage. He was a long-time member of the Colombo Club, an Italian social club located on Claremont Ave, across from the DMV. The club was formed by Italian quarry workers who had moved to Oakland after the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

Whenever he spoke, said Jeff, "Ray always brought his unique style, combining historic fact with personal anecdote, in a way only someone who has lived it can provide."

A celebration of his life was held in November.

Annalee Allen is Tours Coordinator for the Oakland Tours Program, a long-time member of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, and an Oakland Tribune columnist.