This spring we lost two great boatmen. Both
drowned. Both were pushing their own envelopes, having the best time they knew how. Ray
Interpreter was 26 and partying hard. Stan Hollister was the same age but with twice the
years, swimming the big stuff. Both were too young. Both were great guys and gave much to
all of us. Well miss you guys. Thanks for everything. Have great runs and well
see you downstream.
I did not think river gods could die. But they do
sometimes. Stan Hollister drowned on June 3, 1993, doing what he wanted to do, being
totally Stan. He would not have minded much.
He liked Cataract trips, without any frills. No shuttle, no boat, no
companions. In 1983, he enjoyed the peak flows of 110,000 cfs through the twelve miles of
Cat rapids, by walking in on the Red Lake trail, putting on his wetsuit, stowing his
clothes and thin sleeping bag in a black bag, and jumping in. At the end of the rapids he
hiked back to his car, stopping to sleep along the way. In 1983 his river trip took about
one hour. In 1993, his trip did not end. He would have been 52 in a month.
He was a fast walker. Only the Tarahumara would be faster. He would get off a
bus in Baja, stretch his long skinny legs and walk a good two hundred miles in just a few
days. He sea-kayaked 40 mile stretches through high winds and waves while sharks swan
Stan was a minimalist- in words, in using the worlds resources, in
showing emotions. Extremely self sufficient, but not self absorbed, always helping people,
usually behind the scenes and without being asked. He swam Cat for the exhilaration but he
was just as content rebuilding a VW engine, sewing his raincoat back together for the
hundredth time, replacing a tooth on his lifejacket or looking for the cheapest yogurt at
He was happy just as he was. He did not try to emulate anyone; he was not
waiting for something to change or improve. He lived in the present, with fond memories of
places seen, trips taken.
He loved finding things- old tools and shirts at thrift stores, a vacuum
cleaner along a road side, a 25-horse Johnson on the river bottom, flip flops in eddies.
Im glad that we got to find him- at the bottom of that most beautiful hole in the
ground which he called home for twenty-odd years.
Plant some orange globe mallows for Stan and remember.
ray is dead. drowned somewhere on the Salt
the Awesome Arrogant Asshole. one of the greatest hearts I knew. his
intuitive understanding of people, their fears and hurts, expressed itself as great warmth
and a de-stressing sense of humor.
he seemed to not want people to take him seriously. I remember him sitting
atop an upside down kayak strapped on the roof of an NAU Handicap Van, paddling away
his passing is not just water under the bridge. not to me. not ever.
mid twenties eaten up face that big Indian nose and alcoholic girth. ray the
river guide. so much wisdom.
I remember him in his tahitian skirt on dress up night with a tie on over
naked chest, beer in hand. how gently he lifted the girl with multiple sclerosis on to his
he was a natural. a boy from a hoods-in-the-woods program, cleaned up and set
on his way, only to stumble again and later again and again drinking. he could row
anything, and well, and with such a light touch.
that deep voice, telling stories about africa and the dancing black mamba, is
perhaps weve denied men the ability to be legends in our time. men such
as jimmy hendrick, ray interpreter, others living and dead. there are special people who
walk among us for a time. ray was one.
The passing of Ray
from this world is a tragedy
that affects me too deeply
to do justice to in words.
I know I share this feeling
with many who Ray touched
in his all too brief life.
will pay tribute to him
on every Grand Canyon trip
we ever do
from this day forward.
We will tell his stories to the wind.
Our hearts will be full
in our chests at times,
full of sadness at his passing,
full of joy from his very existence
in our lives and others.
I hear his war whoop
his falsetto chuckle
in the coming dusk.
Go in beauty,