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The Villages
Thursday, October 28, 2021

Water Oaker made magic when he put on Santa Claus suit

Water Oak resident Ray Conley, who was well-known for bringing Christmas joy to local children, passed away Wednesday afternoon.

Conley acted as Santa Claus to “hundreds of handicapped, under privileged and exceptional children” in the tri-county area.

Ray Conley, left, clowns around with Villager Maurice Poirier at a Loonies and Toonies event.
Ray Conley, left, clowns around with Villager Maurice Poirier at a Loonies and Toonies event.

President of the Canadian Loonies and Toonies Dave Horsman was well acquainted with Conley, remembering him as an upbeat and kind person.

Horsman and a group of other friends frequently visited the Dunkin Donuts in Spanish Springs Town Square, where Conley would often greet them and take the time to know every patron’s name.

He also invited the Water Oak resident in 2013 and 2014 to his group’s Christmas parties where Conley would collect 200 toys to distribute to kids throughout the local counties as Santa Claus.

After receiving a call from a friend informing Horsman about Conley’s death, he stated, “we were all sad,” and explained how he witnessed Conley’s illness deteriorated his health.

Horsman mentioned state Rep. Marlene O’Toole, who took “special interest in his case and helped get him to a nursing home.”

The state representative shared her response to Conley’s death, remembering her encounters with him whenever she visited Dunkin Donuts.

“He was a kind, gentle, thoughtful, generous man when it came to children in need,” said O’Toole.

Her aide, Dana Coleman, played a key role in accommodating Conley by sending him to rehab following his amputations due to diabetes, and eventually Cornerstone Hospice.

“Ray is so loving, he would give his heart and soul to anyone,” remarked Coleman after calling him a “different kind of fellow.”

Coleman treated the former Water Oak country club owner like a father figure after her own father passed away a year and a half ago. “His attitude gave me a different outlook on life,” she said.

To support Conley’s cause, Coleman encourages anyone to donate to Cornerstone Hospice “in honor of Ray” for giving him impeccable and proper care.


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