The cranberry community lost a staunch advocate and longtime friend this week with the unexpected passing of Ray Samulis.
Ray retired in 2017 after 41 years of service as agricultural agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Burlington County and was also an advocate for farm safety for much of his career, leading several seminars on farm safety. He received many awards over the course of career, including a citation for Distinguished Service to Agriculture from the NJ State Board of Agriculture.
But more importantly than that, he was a friend to all of us. “Ray Samulis was a great friend to the cranberry industry collectively and to many of our members personally,” says ACGA President Shawn Cutts. “As our county extension agent, he was always available to help in whatever way needed. Ray was a regular at all of our meetings, usually giving one of his famous safety talks – a subject about which he cared deeply. His support, advice, and friendship have been missed since his recent retirement. The ACGA extends its sympathies to his family and loved ones.”
“I couldn’t believe when I heard,” says Mike Haines. “I am so sad to hear about his passing when he was really just starting his retirement. We missed him already at the ACGA and county board meetings. He was so kind and friendly to all, and always looking out for us farmers.”
“Ray was a good friend to every cranberry farmer in Burlington County as well as every other farmer in Burlington County,” Bill Haines says. “His focus on pesticide coverage as well as ensuring the safety of farmers was his top priority and it was always greatly appreciated. He was always looking to help and I appreciate everything that he did for us.”
Ray’s work to promote farm safety was his proudest accomplishment. In a Burlington County Times article on his retirement, he noted that the industry was listening:
For his work, Samulis said he was honored by cranberry growers with a “watchdog” award.
“Then I realized that they did pay attention,” he said.
We certainly were, Ray. And the promise we made when you retired still holds true: we’ll try to keep our initials off your list!