Councilman Ray Champney never grew tired of volunteering in the community and advocating for more art and cultural opportunities in Bedford.
Mr. Champney, 76, died Feb. 6 after being diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time.
“Ray was very passionate and loved the city of Bedford,” Mayor Jim Griffin said.
Mr. Champney served on the board of Arts Council Northeast, and he was also working on getting a designation from the state for Bedford’s cultural district, Griffin said.
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“He was always challenging us to think broader and bigger about what we are doing to benefit the community,” Griffin said. “Ray was always a tireless advocate for the arts.”
Mr. Champney also helped spearhead the city’s annual ArtsFest and the Twilight Thursday concerts.
Joshua Santillan, who owns a gallery called Central Arts, worked closely with Mr. Champney.
“Ray was very passionate, and he was very driven,” Santillan said. “He was very supportive of the arts.”
Santillan said Mr. Champney was instrumental in helping him open Central Arts.
He described how Mr. Champney was the first person to purchase art while visiting the gallery: “He bought some art pieces from a little girl who was selling them for $3. That is who Ray was; he was always supportive.”
City Council service
Mr. Champney served on Bedford’s Beautification Commission from 1997 to 2006. He then served on the Community Affairs Commission and was elected to the City Council in 2008 and served until his death.
While on the council, Mr. Champney was a liaison for the Teen Court Advisory Board, the Hotel/Motel Association and the Cultural Commission.
A special election will be held May 6 to fill Mr. Champney’s Place 3 seat, and candidates can file from Wednesday through March 6.
Mr. Champney was born Aug. 6, 1940, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Power Memorial Academy and attended City College of New York.
Mr. Champney’s wife, Anne, said her husband worked for many advertising agencies in New York before opening Champney and Associates with offices in Dallas, Mexico City and New York.
He then became a business coach in the 1990s, she said.
But his lifelong interest was in helping people and working to make Bedford a better place, Anne Champney said.
Besides his love of promoting art and culture, Mr. Champney served on the pastoral council for St. Michael Catholic Church and volunteered for Meals on Wheels, his wife said.
When Mr. Champney was first diagnosed with lung cancer, he started a cancer support group at St. Michael that was open to all denominations. He led it for 16 years.
He also visited schools and talked to children about lung cancer and the dangers of smoking.
“He truly had a servant’s heart and just wanted to help people,” Anne Champney said.
Other survivors include a daughter, Meghan Champney; a sister, Joan Miskovits; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass for Mr. Champney will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Michael Catholic Church, 3713 Harwood Road in Bedford. Interment is private.