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Edward Raye, a family therapist, was heavily involved the El Paso County democratic party for many years and helped pave the way for democrats from the El Paso County to win statewide offices. (Photo courtesy of Christina Charles)

A long-time Democratic Party leader in El Paso County, Edward Raye, who helped make blue inroads in a deeply red community, died in April. He was 65. 

Raye, a family therapist, led the county Democratic Party as chairman, served as a super delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2000, worked as the regional director for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and ran for House District 17. He lost the race narrowly to Republican Mark Cloer. 

Raye's daughter, Christine Charles, said her father was probably the most proud of keeping families together during his work as a therapist for more than 20 years. He was also an advocate for single dads and would show them how to cook and clean, she said.

"He just genuinely cared about people and their happiness," she said. 

He was a patient and gracious father and raised Charles and her half-brother, James Eads, who he adopted, she said. 

Raye was also a patriot who would raise the American flag outside his house everyday, she said. 

As a political advocate, he was interested in issues such as nursing home reform, equal pay and racial equality, Charles said. 

"He really put in the work and effort to make sure that everybody is treated the same," she said. 

He was also among those who worked on the renaissance of the Hillside Neighborhood, an area southeast of downtown, and helped turn around some of its issues with crime and rundown infrastructure, Councilman Richard Skorman said. 

"He was really motivated by helping women and minorities and people in need," He said. 

Former State Senator and Representative Michael Merrifield recalled Raye as a leader with a broad sphere of influence at a time when running democratic campaigns in the county was even more challenging than it is now. The party was making progress in the 1990s, but just "inches" at a time, he said.  

Raye brought a gift for public speaking to the party and Merrifield never wanted to follow him on stage, he said. 

He also mentored Merrifield and helped him learn how to campaign. The two co-led Merrifield's first successful campaign for state office in 2002, he said. 

Since then the local party has grown significantly and democrats in the area, while still in the minority, hold two state house seats and one senate seat.

Raye left politics around 2008 when he started to get sick with dementia, Charles said. He died on April 20.

Originally born in New York state, he had lived in Colorado Springs for 58 years and graduated from Mitchell High School. 

He went on to lead the Women's Resource Center and the young democrats club, where he was a strong advocate for voting, Charles said. 

He never grew arrogant over his achievements. 

"He just was very humble and always classy," Charles said. 

To help the Raye's family with funeral expenses visit GoFundMe and search for Edward Raye.

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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