Lewis Thomason recently lost our long-time partner and friend, Ray Babaoglu. Ray attended Memphis State University College of Law, where he earned his JD in 1974. It was there his love of the University of Memphis Tigers was born. After graduating from law school, Ray embarked on an illustrious forty–five–plus–year career specializing in immigration law. He joined Lewis Thomason in 2000.
Ray was born in Milan, Italy and immigrated to the United States as a young boy. Ray’s family settled in Newark, New Jersey. Ray attended Rutgers University where he graduated with a degree in Russian language and literature. While at Rutgers he was a member of the Scarlet Knights’ wrestling team until an injury forced him to retire and forgo his promised Olympic career. It was at Rutgers that he met his one true love, Lydia Amelia Zajcew and they married in 1968. In 1973, Ray served in the US Army Reserve in Hattiesburg, MS at Camp Shelby as a medic in the 330th General Hospital Unit. Then he and Lydia moved to midtown Memphis to start their lives together and raise two children, Lara Babaoglu Reynolds, and his son, Rehim Christopher Babaoglu. Above all else, Ray loved his family.
Ray was passionate about serving his legal community. He was honored by Super Lawyers of America as a Super Lawyer in the Mid-South. He was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for his work in immigration and consumer law. He served the Memphis Bar Association as a member of its board. He was on the board of directors of Memphis Area Legal Services for nearly twenty years, with two years as chair. He also served on the board of directors of Mid-South Immigration Advocates.
Because of Lydia’s extensive history as a ballet dancer, Ray became a board member, dance-floor installer, and window-unit air conditioner installer of the Memphis Ballet Company. He was a die-hard Yankees fan, University of Memphis Tigers football fan, and an ardent lover of animals, the arts, the ocean, and the environment. In fact, he is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records for being the benefactor to the most “Save the (insert your favorite animal here)” organizations. He happily spent his free time volunteering for many local causes, smoking Cuban cigars and later in life, dining with the ROMEOs (Real Old Men Eating Out).
We will miss our friend.