PATERSON, N.J. – The family of Ray Beesley, the late Paterson man known to many as the “Real Santa,” is carrying on his legacy by doing what he loved best: giving back to children.
His loved ones have launched Ray’s Christmas Miracles. The fund will “provide holiday joy to children in need,” according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the family.
As of Tuesday evening, the page had garnered more than $10,500 in donations.
Beesley passed away Friday at the age of 65, after spending decades brightening the lives of kids and parents.
He is survived by his wife, six children and five grandchildren.
“Ray Beesley devoted his life to children. Now his legacy may live on,” the GoFundMe page states.
Beesley had been portraying Santa Claus since the 1970s, visiting area churches, scout troops and organizations.
He would even play Santa in the off-season at minor league baseball games, where he asked only for tickets for wheelchair-bound kids in return.
He played Santa at the Wayne Towne Center for 18 years and gained a massive following. More recently, he had donned his red suit at the Christmas Ice Caverns at Fairfield Garden Center.
“He cared for everyone he met, loved with an unparalleled fierceness, and gave of himself endlessly,” the GoFundMe page states. “He was a man who selflessly brought hope, love, kindness, belief, and a chance to relive our childhood with the spirit of Christmas. He was and is a shining example of humanity at its best, how we should all be in this world.”
Those whose lives he touched have flooded the GoFundMe page with kind words.
“He was and will always be our Santa, our friend,” Karen Toma wrote. “Thank you for sharing your loved one with all of us. The impact of his life is immeasurable.”
“May your selfless spirit and the true meaning of Christmas continue with this beautiful fund,” Kara Jerla wrote.