The highest compliment a man could receive in the Old West was: "He’ll do to ride the river with." This was a tribute from the old trail days when only the fearless dared to swim herds across treacherous rivers. -- Dr. Joe Wheeler.
I met Ray Thompson in October of 2005 in Hachita NM when we were all out on the border with the Minutemen. We shared a minor passion for archaeology, yet we were so busy that we had precious little time to compare notes about digs we had participated in. I wrote about the Hachita operation at the time in a short essay entitled The Magnificent Minutemen.
Ray picked up the nickname of "Quasimodo" because every night he could be found in the bell tower of the abandoned Catholic church in Hachita, scanning the valley below with night vision. Of Ray, Bob Wright recalls: "Today marks the sad loss of one of the essential personalities that made our efforts in New Mexico possible. Received the sad news this morning of the passing of Ray Thompson of Deming, New Mexico. Most will remember him by his radio call sign "Quasimodo." His tireless energy assured quality operations and his good humor helped us all through some tough hard days and nights. God rest you, Quasi!"
As for me, I'll let stand these final words from The Magnificent Minutemen as my eulogy to Ray:
History, for good or ill, is made by determined minorities. Never was that truer than among that small band of New Mexico Minutemen. They were dirty, unshaven and exhausted on their best day. They didn't look like much more than a small convention of the homeless. But by their presence and their gritty determination they were calling the shots on the border. They were pitiful, they were magnificent. I am proud to have known them and to have served with them. And if we can find more of their kind, we just might be able to save the country.