I only had one real conversation with Ray Abeyta. Luckily, I captured it for everybody to see. We met at his favorite hangout, the bar-restaurant Five Leaves, so I could interview him for The Regulars. I told him I’d seen him around town for 10 years and we had friends in common. He said I looked familiar. We ordered our drinks and the conversation flowed. His badass personality blazed before me.
As the Greenpoint Gazette reports, Ray Abeyta passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident this past Sunday. Talking to 56-year-old Ray, who arrived in New York from New Mexico in 1986, was like talking to Williamsburg royalty. His imprint was everywhere: he was a partner at fixtures like the bars Union Pool and Hotel Delmano as well as the motorcycle shop Works Engineering. He was an an astonishing artist, with works around town and across the country. He was also a father of two.
On that day I met with Ray, we talked about the untimely death of his friend (another Williamsburg luminary Colin Devlin, owner of the now defunct restaurant DuMont), the rapidly changing neighborhood, and one of his favorite things to do: “bombin’ around Brooklyn” on his 1968 Triumph.
It’s bittersweet that our conversation ended on this quote from Ray: “We’re not here for a long time, so we have to be here for a good time. This present moment is all we’ve got.”
Last night Ray got a proper send-off from friends and family. His ashes were placed in his truck, which lead a parade of fellow bikers from Black Bear bar to Union Pool where everybody was welcome to celebrate his life.
Below are some photos from last night and other remembrances on Instagram. For even more, check out #RIPRayAbeyta
Thanks, Ray. Brooklyn is not the same without you.