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Ziachild007

Cowboys super fan "Crazy Ray" passes away

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Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones, who turned a stint selling seat cushions at the Cotton Bowl into a nationally recognizable role as an unofficial Dallas Cowboys mascot, has died.

 

Mr. Jones, 76, died Saturday at an Irving hospice. Friends said he suffered from congestive heart failure and had recently had a heart attack.

 

"Crazy Ray" entertained decades of Cowboys fans and became a Dallas institution in chaps and white boots.

 

"This whole thing has turned out so much bigger than I ever expected," he told The Dallas Morning News in 1981. "I never want to do anything else."

 

Neighbors said that although Mr. Jones' recent bad health kept him away from Cowboys games, he remained an avid fan. He'll be buried in one of his costumes.

 

Although his funeral will be private, the family is planning a public memorial this week. No time or date had been set Saturday.

 

The Nacogdoches native came to Dallas in 1953 at age 22 to make a living shining shoes. His natural talents soon had him clowning toward his playful calling.

 

"When I first got here, I was riding a city bus and talking to a lady," Mr. Jones said in 1974. "I had a paper bag and made some sounds. She said, ‘Do you have a dog in there?' I said yes.

 

"So the driver said, ‘You can't have a dog on the bus.' So I threw the bag out the window.

 

"They all looked for the dog."

 

That was one of many stories Mr. Jones had told for decades that his wife, Mattie, retold Saturday when friends and family gathered around him at the hospice, friends said. He died around 11:30 a.m. with loved ones surrounding him.

 

The Joneses were married for 53 years. Mrs. Jones did not want to speak Saturday about her husband's death.

 

Although his role with the team was unofficial, he was no less important to fans and the Cowboys themselves.

 

"Ray was the most dedicated, entertaining and passionate of Cowboys fans," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Saturday. "He touched thousands of lives and generations of football fans. He will remain an important part of this team's heritage and family for as long as fans go to Cowboys games and feel his spirit."

 

Twenty years after he spoofed the woman on the city bus, Mr. Jones was known as the Pied Piper of Elm Street. Still holding a day job shining shoes at barber shops along Elm Street, he spent his lunch hours entertaining children with his signature antics: whistling and making balloon animals.

 

"I'd just whistle, act crazy and sell more than anybody," Mr. Jones once recalled. He also hung out at a magic shop downtown, learning sleight of hand from magicians.

 

No matter how full Mr. Jones' bag of tricks got over the years, his shrill whistle was his trademark. Its force and volume made many wonder what kind of whistle he was using and how he kept from swallowing it.

 

"No, it's no whistle. I just tell 'em it's a secret," Mr. Jones said of his technique.

 

Mr. Jones' secret was a missing front tooth and incredible lip dexterity.

 

Although Mr. Jones originally sold trinkets at college football and minor-league hockey games, his success skyrocketed with Dallas' professional football franchises. In the early 1960s, he began selling seat cushions at Dallas Texans games at the Cotton Bowl and went on to become the unofficial icon of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

 

At Cowboys games, Mr. Jones would dance and clown around, sometimes riding a stick horse or scuffling with the opposing team's mascot. As his popularity eclipsed his need to sell souvenirs, the Cowboys asked him not to sell and focus on entertaining the crowd.

 

At the peak of his fame, Mr. Jones made frequent personal appearances, from routine showings at auto dealerships and shopping centers in Dallas to more exotic performances in Hawaii and Mexico. He even won bit parts in movies and commercials.

 

But in the late 1980s, Mr. Jones' health began to fail. He was sidelined by a hiatal hernia in September 1989.

 

In the years that followed, Mr. Jones found himself broke and in increasingly bad health. He had five heart bypass surgeries and a leg amputation. By last August, he was recovering from his fourth stroke. The strokes impaired his speed and the use of his right arm. Glaucoma blinded him.

 

Cowboy fans began to ask Mr. Jones if he'd retired.

 

"I tell them, ‘No, I just have some heart problems,'." he said.

 

A lack of money meant his utilities were turned off, and the Joneses had trouble paying for prescriptions.

 

Wayne Walker, a neighbor, coordinated efforts to help the Joneses pay bills and renovate their house. Fans donated money and Bedford-based Operation Forever Free - an organization dedicated to helping military members and their families - renovated the Korean War veteran's home with donated time and materials.

 

Mr. Walker didn't help the Joneses because Crazy Ray was a Dallas icon, he said Saturday.

 

"It's not because he's Crazy Ray," Mr. Walker said. "It's because he was a neighbor in need."

 

Off the field, Mr. Jones' personality was just as loving and big-hearted, recalled Richard Davis, who lived across the street from the Joneses. The two met in the mid-1960s while fishing at White Rock Lake. They became instant friends and fishing buddies - more like brothers than friends.

 

Mr. Jones was always looking to make people smile or better yet get a big belly laugh out of them, Mr. Davis said.

 

"Sometimes, he might put on ladies' clothes just to get a laugh," said Mr. Davis, grinning at the memory. "That was Crazy Ray."

 

In addition to his wife, Mr. Jones is survived by two brothers, Paul Jones, 62, and Jerry Jones, 64, both from the Dallas area; a sister, Eugenia Gibson, 78, of Atlanta; and two grandsons, Derrick Jackson, 38, and Darryl Jackson, 35. His daughter, Glenda, preceded him in death in 2000 at age 53.

Edited by Ziachild007

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Sad to be sure - he's been a part of the Cowboys since I was a little kid. I remember meeting him at Trades Day in Canton where he used to sell whistles and would walk around entertaining the kids. He did that all his life and he was never paid by the Cowboys either (though he was allowed the best seat in the house each game).

 

Great guy, sad day...

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What bull, I can not beleive the Cowboys did not help crazy ray and his family out! Lost of class there with Jerry Jones. I lived in Dallas when I was young and remember Ray laughing and making those ballon animals for my brother and I it was great time. I feel for his love ones.

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I too am shocked Jones didnt do more for Ray. He was the unofficial mascot, but was a staple to those who went to the games.

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I will have good memories of "Crazy Ray" dating far back. Although a Redskin fan I always was entertained by his antics. Thank You "Crazy Ray" for the good times.

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Sad to be sure - he's been a part of the Cowboys since I was a little kid. I remember meeting him at Trades Day in Canton where he used to sell whistles and would walk around entertaining the kids. He did that all his life and he was never paid by the Cowboys either (though he was allowed the best seat in the house each game).

 

Great guy, sad day...

 

 

That for sure. One less thing on my to-do list. :D I always wanted to meet him as a kid.

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:D Sad day..I remember him from my childhood as well..Rest in Peace Crazy Ray

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IRVING, Texas - The Dallas Cowboys will pay tribute to the late Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones, their unofficial mascot of 44 years, with a public memorial service at 10 a.m. (CDT) Saturday, March 24 in the Stadium Club inside Texas Stadium.

 

Friends and fans of Crazy Ray and the Cowboys are welcome to attend Saturday's service which is open to the general public. The Texas Stadium parking lot will open at 9 a.m., and fans will be asked to enter the parking lot located at the Gate 1 parking entrance.

 

Admission to the Stadium Club will be accessible at Gate 10, next to the statue of Coach Tom Landry.

 

Ray, 76, died Saturday morning after battling various illnesses over the years. He was a beloved icon since the Cowboys' early days, cheering the franchise on in full western wear.

 

The Cowboys also announced Tuesday that Ray will be honored at a 2007 regular-season home game at Texas Stadium next fall. A tribute to the team's most famous fan will be presented, and the organization will honor Ray's wife Mattie in an on-field ceremony.

 

cowboys.com

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:D How can anyone who ever watched a Cowboys game ever forget him? I watched him many times as "the enemy" and he still made me smile and laugh. RIP Crazy Ray.

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Another shout out of respect to Crazy Ray from a die hard Skins fan. I grew up watching Crazy Ray and Chief Zee go at it during the 80s. Fun memories that will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace.

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Sorry to hear about "Crazy Ray" sounds like a die hard fan and adored in the TX area.... Rest In Peace!

Edited by PSULions

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Crazy Ray was great. I still remember him from when I was a kid. He'd run around acting a fool, chasing Rowdy and even some of the cheer leaders. I saw him a few years ago and it was sad. He was riding around on the side line on a "lil rascal" waving a pom-pom and talking through a bull horn. RIP Crazy Ray.

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