Ray at 24

Ray at 24

Poster by Kevin Morgan

Brother Ray Heads For The Shore
Monday, April 15, 2019

Here at the Fur Peace Ranch we just concluded another amazing weekend with Larry Campbell and myself as teachers and Larry, Teresa, Justin and Jesse as the concert. Well, they dealt me in for the second set and it is always a joy and an honor to hang with these folks. The circumstances the Ranch never ceases to elevate me from my daily world… always; The giving and receiving from friends, old and new sustains us… it really does!

Time moves on relentlessly, inexorably… because that’s what time does. There is no ‘pause’ button, no ‘rewind…’and absolutely no ‘do overs.’ Sometimes one is part of a story greater that oneself and one of these amazing stories in my life involves the Hurlbut family.

Jorma with Ray on his 95th Birthday

Jorma with Ray on his 95th Birthday

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

John Hurlbut has been our Ranch Manager for twenty some years but he and Vanessa and I go way back beyond that. I met Johnny in the early 80’s when Kurt promoted a solo Jorma show and Johnny was somehow involved. We became friends, he and I and his brother Pete, and his friend Wally and Jay the Bass player (now long gone) and a host of Columbus characters; some still with us, some on the shore of the River Of Time.

In 1984 I left twenty years of life in San Francisco and hit the road for the East Coast. It was a long-awaited homecoming. I always was an East Coast kid! I would stop off in Cleveland and Ray and Lucy Hurlbut would let me sleep on a couch in their basement as long as I needed to before the next stage of my journey They would tap me on the shoulder in the morning and coffee and breakfast would be waiting.

When Vanessa and I started out thirty-year relationship in 1988 in Key West, Johnny was down visiting his folks who were snowbirding. He stopped by our pad down by the Southernmost Point and as Vanessa was getting to know him she said, ‘I don’t trust him. He’s too nice.’ But that’s just who he was and that’s who the Hurlbut family is. Our daughter Israel carries the name of three strong women. Israel Love Diana Lucy Kaukonen. Love was my mom’s middle name, Diana was Jack’s beloved wife and Lucy was Ray’s other half. She was Mother to John and Pete and Mary Lou.

The Kaukonen’s will never cease loving and respecting the four generations of Hurlbuts we have come to count as friends and family.

After Lucy passed away eight or nine years ago the relationship that Ray and I shared changed. He was no longer John’s dad to me… he was more like an older brother .I embraced his counsel and he always had a relevant view of current events and family. I loved the man dearly… and still do. Time has a relentless way of leveling the playing field. Ray was born in 1921, flew as a radio operator in bombers in the Pacific in WW II. He had a long and productive life! Today at 1640, Ray Hurlbut went home for the last time. Johnny was able to be there and sing songs and then by the Grace of G_d Ray gently left us… like the passing of a tree. He was 98 years old~!

I could go on, but then I would start repeating myself. Nessa and I got to visit him last Wednesday and we were able to swap hugs and stories. He was still sharp as a tack… the Ray I had known for years. For some time, I had graduated from being Johnny’s friend to being Ray’s brother. It was honor I shall not soon forget!

At moments like this, we all say ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ The real loss would have been if I had never known the man. He was one of my many blessings. Our friend Wally and his wife Cat visited him the other day and Ray told Wally, ‘Tell my brother Jorma I’ll be saving him a seat next to me on the stage… but tell him not to rush.’ That was Ray.

I will miss the man of course, but the honor was mine to have known him and the rest of his family.

Anchors aweigh my brother and as always… fair winds and following seas.

The Bros...

The Bros...

Foto by Vanessa Kaukonen

The Ladys Man at 98

The Ladys Man at 98

Foto by Jorma Kaukonen


  1. Comment made on April 22, 2019 by John B

    Amen johno. Thank You…..@johno

  2. Comment made on April 21, 2019 by johno

    Happy Easter and Happy Passover to the Tuna Nation
    Easter is my favorite holiday of the year
    Crossing Jordon I need not fear…

  3. Comment made on April 19, 2019 by Ben

    I feel we’ve all benefited from Ray. RIP. I know there are stars in his crown. Thanks for the words Jorma.

  4. Comment made on April 19, 2019 by eaglesteve

    zissen Pesach to the Kaukonens and Tuna Nation

  5. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by Brian Doyle

    Have to imagine what it was like to be in one of those bombers in your early 20’s…A high school friend of mine once mentioned his father was crew on an aircraft at Leyte Gulf…Changes the way you look at someone…

    On the bike path I passed an older couple on my bike and heard the older man make a loud involuntary whisper something about “hippy’s” or such…Good to know the pony tail is still working lol!

  6. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by gregg

    Gregg staten island ny g

  7. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by johno

    Hey Gregg what does G S I N Y mean?

  8. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by gregg


  9. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by Mitch Spector

    So sorry to hear about Rays passing .Love & prayers Brother John ..Jorma always knows how to tell these life story’s and tributes eloquently . Love to all at this time

  10. Comment made on April 17, 2019 by mikie

    I seems to me that Mr. H’s major contribution to this world was not as a warrior, but as a lover. That is evident from the love he so apparently instilled in John and his family. That love will shine a long time. m

  11. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by Chappy

    Thoughts are with John and his family. Had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hurlbut a couple of years ago at an FPR show. We have sadness in the passing of loved ones…especially family…and joy in all they meant to us. John’s Father lives on in great spirit and memory. Many blessings.

  12. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by Rick Quinn

    John, the memories will give you comfort forever.

  13. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by Jeff

    Beautifully written – you are both blessed

  14. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by John B

    So very sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad Hurl. May God Bless and keep him always along with you and the Tuna family .

  15. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by johno

    They sure don’t make them like Ray anymore. He was part of the Greatest Generation. He was in the Pacific theatre of WWII, like my Dad.
    He sounds like a great guy, RIP.

  16. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by Tom Fabry

    Peace to Brother John and his loved ones. May his father, Ray, rejoice and be singing in glory, Amen.
    We all must cross the Jordan…Amen.

  17. Comment made on April 16, 2019 by Richard

    May Ray Rest In Peace..You very often bring a tear to my eye..This time many tears..

  18. Comment made on April 15, 2019 by carey georgas

    Sharing your relationship with the Hurlbut family as you did here is why I come to read your posts and why I think your book is special. The prose you use to express yourself is elevating, even if it’s sometimes difficult. The memories will vanquish the the grief of loss with relative ease, sounds like to me.

  19. Comment made on April 15, 2019 by Joey

    My condolences to Hurl, and everyone concerned. Knowing how sweet and kind a man John is, obviously he was raised by special people.
    Thank you for your warm tribute.
    Peace & love♡

  20. Comment made on April 15, 2019 by DennisK

    Wow, this is really sad. So sorry for your loss Hurl, Jorma and Vanessa. Ray sounds like a special guy and at 98 he had a good run. I know he will be missed by all who loved him.

    My thoughts are with you all, especially my pal John…Dennis

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