CRANFORD, NJ — Bagpipe music filled the air at St. Gertrude Cemetery in Woodbridge on Feb. 16 for the funeral of Cranford resident Raymond Schwartz, 15, who died following a 15-month battle with glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer.
Schwartz, the son of Raymond and Stacy Schwartz, died Feb. 12 at Morristown Medical Center. Family, friends and neighbors who knew Ray spoke at his funeral about his courage, strength and dream of becoming a police officer, and many members of the Cranford Police Department were present to say their goodbyes to the teen.
The CPD had embraced Ray. He was sworn in by Chief Ryan Greco in May as an honorary police officer after Greco learned the teen dreamed of pursuing a career in law enforcement. Ray was part of the department’s Youth Academy and Explorer Program, and participated in the police trading card program. He even had his own card, featuring his huge smile. And Ray represented the department at last year’s Memorial Day Parade.
“The Cranford Police Department is highly committed to our community,” Detective Lt. Ed Davenport said in a Feb. 14 email. “We wanted to support Ray in his battle and let the Schwartz family know that we were here to help them in any way that we could. Being around Ray impacted all of our lives here at the Police Department, too.”
The outpouring of love, especially from the police department, has been a great comfort to Ray’s family, said his grandmother, Vickie Measel.
“Everyone has been so wonderful,” she said after the funeral at the repast, held at the Columbian Club of Garwood. “We don’t know how to express our thanks. The Fire Department, the Cranford Police Department, even the Union County prosecutor came to see him last week. The Woodbridge police came to the house to see him.”
Measel said she was in the basement on Ray’s birthday, Feb. 4, when she heard sirens outside the home. When she arrived upstairs, dozens of police and firefighters had gathered in the living room to sing “Happy Birthday” to the boy.
“He was more or less shocked to see all these people,” Measel said.
Ray’s loss has been felt across the community. According to a statement released by Cranford Superintendent of Schools Scott Rubin, “It is with profound sadness that I write this letter to inform you that one of our ninth-grade students, Raymond Schwartz Jr., passed away earlier today after a courageous battle. Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with the Schwartz family during this time.”
Robbie Kenny, president of the Columbian Club of Garwood, said the club donated the use of their space for the repast because “it was the right thing to do. We wanted to show how much his loss affected all of us.”
Even at home, Izzy, the family pet, has been wandering the house in search of Ray.
“When Raymond was sick, he would lay on the couch,” Measel said. “Izzy would sit right there by his side. Then when we had the hospital bed at home, she would lay under it, right by him.”
Members of the Cranford Police Department also found it hard to say goodbye.
“Ray was a brave kid who fought a tremendous battle,” Davenport said. “The Cranford Police Department first met Ray when he attended our Youth Academy Program and then our Explorer Program. He was a great kid who had a strong interest in law enforcement.”