Whether it was ponies or politics, Ray Kerrison was, as a former colleague described him on Monday, “New York’s quintessential columnist.”
Kerrison, who wrote for The Post from 1976 to 2013 as a news columnist and horse racing columnist, covering 32 Kentucky Derbys and countless other Triple Crown races, died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 92 years old.
“Ray was smart, kind, dry and witty and as committed to his craft as any reporter I’ve known,” said Bob McManus, the Post’s retired editorial page editor. “He was a man of unwavering principles, which was evident in his writing, but also a man who respected the intelligence of his readers. His goal was to persuade, not lecture, and while his work could be controversial, he was always honest. And he was a friend.
A friend of all, it seems.
“One of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” said Ed Fountaine, a former Post horse racing writer. “No one could say anything bad about him. Working with him was one of the pleasures of my career there. A real pro. At 82, he was on the track at 6 a.m. in the rain.
Raymond William Kerrison was born on March 2, 1930 in Cobdogla, near Renmark in the Riverland district of South Australia. He got his start in journalism in his native country and joined News Limited in 1963 in its New York office. Ray moved there to edit the National Star, Rupert Murdoch’s first American publication, in the early 1970s, then moved to the Post in 1976 to cover horse racing.
“Even when he retired, he was so amazed by his journey,” said his son Damien. “He was born and raised in the Australian bush. So to get out of there and be so successful in the New York market was a wonderful achievement. I know he was greatly admired by his colleagues. They all have a thing for him.
“All I can tell you is that Ray Kerrison was just a wonderful human being,” said Greg Gallo, a former Post Sports editor who started working with Kerrison in 1973. was a terrific journalist, a columnist, a tenacious reporter who went after stories thoroughly. But he was so kind in the way he did his business.
“I called him the Fred Astaire of thoroughbred racing because he was the best. He was the classiest guy who ever worked on this rhythm. No one was better as a journalist. … We really lost a special person here.
“Ray Kerrison was one of a group of notable Australian journalists, including Steve Dunleavy, Neal Travis, Peter Brennan, Ian Rae and John Canning, who descended on New York in the 1970s and left an indelible mark on the industry of the press with their skills and flair. said former Post editor Col. Allan. “Unlike his friends, Ray lived a quieter life but was deeply respected for his principles, integrity and warmth. I will miss him.
“One of the nicest people you could find, unusual in the world of the press,” said Eric Fettmann, who edited his columns from 1994. “He was persuasive without being strident or dogmatic. And he was a joy to edit – not that his column needed much editing. He was a simple but elegant writer.
Kerrison reported on many major news events, including the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, the first moon landing in 1969, and the tragedy at the Munich Olympics in 1972. And in 1977, Kerrison uncovered a scandal of horse racing in which one horse raced under the name of another at Belmont Park. For this reporting, Kerrison was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
“You want to know the most amazing thing about my dad?” said Patrick, her youngest child. “In 92 years, he never cursed. Not once. There were seven of us and a 59-year-old woman and we gave her plenty of reasons to do it.
A wake will be held Tuesday from 5-9 p.m. at Blackley Funeral Home, 809 Broad Ave., Ridgefield, NJ. Funeral Mass will be held Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Matthew’s Church, 555 Prospect Ave., Ridgefield.
In addition to sons Damien and Patrick, Kerrison is survived by daughters Catherine, Loretta, Louise and Francesca, and son Gregory, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Monica, a daughter, Maria, and a son, John.
“I remember sitting in the press box with him in Saratoga,” Patrick said. “One of the few times I was allowed to do that. And he said, “OK, Lovey – he and my mum used to call us all Lovey kids – it’s time for dad to work.
“And I just remember sitting there and watching him, cigarette in hand, typing, looking at the race form and thinking ‘That’s my dad. He is so cool. ”
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Longtime New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison dies at 92 – CNET – ApparelGeek