Francis Raymond (Ray) Provencher was born to Marie Aurore Lavertu and Alphonse Provencher in Manchester, NH, on November 24, 1942, the youngest of their three children. He spoke French in the home with his French-Canadian-American parents and English with the neighbor kids.
He was the 8th grade valedictorian (just like his sister Irene, seven years earlier) at St. Anthony’s, the nearest Catholic K-8 school in Manchester. As an interesting aspect of schooling there in this French-Canadian section of the city, half the classes were taught in English, the other in French; the following year, the subjects taught in French were taught in English and vice versa. During his subsequent four years at Trinity High School in Manchester, he played football and ran track; off campus he played baseball and earned golden glove boxing status. He was on the Trinity honor roll all four years. Following graduation, he enrolled in the Navy.
Ray served in the Navy as an electrician’s mate, operating the radar navigation on his ship, which at one point was stationed off Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. When he was honorably discharged from the Navy after three years’ service, he enrolled at St. Anselm College, a private school in Golfstown, NH, run by the Benedictine monks. Ray spoke enthusiastically about the rigorous intellectual training he received there, and in his senior year he was a member of the five-man brain bowl team that took the national championship in their division. He earned his BA degree, with a major in history and minor in Spanish.
In his junior year of college, Ray participated in a foreign exchange program that enabled him to live with a family in Bogota, Colombia. He was fully fluent in Spanish after that experience and enthusiastic about pursuing broader international understanding. To facilitate that, in the fall of 1968 he enrolled in a post-graduate one-year course at the University of Madrid: the Curso Hispanico, especially designed for international students.
While studying in Madrid, he met his future wife, Vicki Sanders, who at the time was teaching English at the private girls’ middle school: Colegio Santa Maria de los Rosales. That spring, Vicki and Ray decided to return to the states; they married in the Presbyterian Church of Asheville, NC on May 24, 1969 then drove to Los Angeles where Vicki completed her MS in International Education at the University of Southern California.
Their first son, Marcel Antoine, was born February 4, 1970 at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and he was quickly introduced to the international students and their kids living at USC’s campus in Married Student Housing.
The following year, Ray enrolled in the Latin American Studies graduate program at USC, adding Portuguese to the list of languages he spoke fluently. University professor positions weren’t opening up for these grads, so once again Ray considered a new career option: accounting. He enrolled at Cal State Long Beach and earned his CPA while simultaneously working a day job as tax preparer. Following that accomplishment, he started working for the IRS.
They had moved to San Pedro, CA, and just as Marcel was old enough to go to preschool, son #2 Etienne Raymond was born on June 18, 1973. This cozy harbor city was smog-free, the library a couple blocks away, and dear friends lived across the street, but our families were far away.
With grandparents/aunts/uncles living in the East (NH and NC), in 1975 Ray and his family of four moved to Raleigh, NC, to be closer to family. He was hired as the accountant for the Honda motorcycle shop, where he worked with brother-in-law Steve Sanders. While at Honda of Raleigh, he completed CPA accreditation in NC.
In 1977, Ray and Vicki’s third son, Lucien René, was born. Shortly thereafter, the family moved into their new home on two wooded acres in North Raleigh.
For several years, Ray worked as CFO of Geobased Systems in the Research Triangle Park. In the decades that followed, he performed that same service for J & G Trucking in Wake Forest. In addition, Ray worked as an independent tax preparer, with clients from the mountains to the coast. Among family, friends, and clients, his good reputation and high esteem grew over the years; to some, he was the “tax wizard”; to the soccer community, he was known as the “mayor” because of his supportive presence.
From 1978 on, Ray has been actively involved in his sons’ soccer teams (school – West Millbrook, Ligon, Enloe, Millbrook High; Capital Area Soccer League — Vikings; and classic —1970 and 1973 Stars), serving as club treasurer, assistant coach, and dedicated parent supporter who attended every practice and game. He was the treasurer for the founding board of CACSA (Capital Area Classic Soccer Association). Over time CASL and CACSA merged; they are now referred to as North Carolina Football Club (NCFC) Youth.
When his grandchildren joined soccer teams, the game-side support continued, and once again he rarely missed watching their practices or games. The Ravenscroft’s girls’ soccer team (2018) and Millbrook’s men’s soccer team (2019) honored Ray as Grandparent Supporter of the Year. He was thrilled that grandson Matthew was selected to play soccer on the Mars Hill University team this past year.
Beyond soccer, Ray attended every dance recital, music performance, gymnastics meet, swim meet, and tennis match in which his grandkids participated.
He died at age 79 of a heart attack on New Year’s Day 2022. He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Marcel who died in early childhood, and his sister Irene (Bill) Donaldson with whom he was close until her death in 2015. He is survived by his former wife Vicki and Joe Corporon; son Marcel and wife Andie Provencher and their girls Fionna and Simone; son Etienne and wife Chris Provencher and their children Matthew, Hannah, Steven and Victoria; son Lucien and wife Katya Provencher and their sons Danya and Misha — all residing in/near Wake Forest, NC. Ray will be missed by extended family, including niece Jean Donaldson, nephews Bob and wife Pat Donaldson and Bruce and wife Christine Donaldson of Canada; and NC brother-in-law Steve and wife Pennie Sanders and sister-in-law Cyndy Sanders Allison.
Over the years, Ray was aware of talented soccer players whose families struggled to afford the expenses involved in select/classic soccer teams — coaching fees, travel expenses, uniform and equipment purchases, etc. In order to assist soccer players who need financial support in order to pay for soccer travel/training/equipment, we are setting up the Ray Provencher Memorial Soccer Scholarship Fund.
If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, generally learn about and celebrate Ray’s life, or provide your memories of Ray please visit our memorial website https://everloved.com/life-of/francis-provencher/.
To send flowers to Francis' family, please visit our floral store.