At age 93, Korean War veteran Raymond Freeman Buggs Long continues to live by his personal motto, “Although sometimes things don’t go well, other people are not responsible for it.”
The Texas native is the 2022 recipient of the Herbert L. Wallace Community Service Award for lifetime achievement in humanitarian work. The honor was announced by the American Benevolent Society at the 154th Cherry Pie Festival on May 4 at the U. S. ambassador’s residence in Lomas Altas.
Also honored was Angela Camacho del Angel with the Outstanding Employee Award.
"A day does not go by without a phone call, visit, request anything you can think of that (she) is called to do. Whether it is talking to a beneficiary who is scared of her neighbor, wants her dog’s nails trimmed, needs to go to the supermarket, needs to be taken to the hospital at 10 pm or just wants to talk, she will be there with a smile at any time of the day or night," said ABS Executive Director Aliki Elias in presenting the award.
The crowd of more than 100 celebrants was welcomed by the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States to Mexico Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath.
The annual Cherry Pie Festival is traditionally held on Washington’s Birthday but was delayed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a precaution, the 2022 event offered both indoor and outdoor accommodations.
“Call him Mr., Señor, of Don, Ray is loved and admired by all of us,” said said Frances Huttanus, first vice-president of The ABS.
Always smiling and usually in a coat and tie, Ray Buggs was born in a small town in Texas called Hallsville. Most of his formative years were spent in Longview, Texas.
At the age of 18, he ventured to Los Angeles, seeking the opportunity to access education. He enlisted in the United States Army and served his country in the Korean War.
Restless and eager for knowledge, Mr. Buggs decided to travel to Mexico City to seek a Bachelor of Education degree at Mexico City College, today the University of the Americas.
He then returned to Longview for a short time. But longing for Mexico, he returned to the city he fell in love with. He believed in Mexico his children would not suffer as much discrimination.
He also fell in love with Martha Bertha Lomelí, with whom he had his eldest children: Alejandra, Fernando, and Raymundo. From a second marriage came four more children: Armando, Faviola, Dominique and Emmit.
In 1960 he began the hard work of creating an English School, following his visionary and creative side. He offered executives from important companies such as Coca Cola, DuPont, and Nestlé the possibility to study Spanish.
Almost at the same time he was sought out by ELS Language Services, a US company, to become their Representative in Latin America — sending students from Mexico to the United States to study English.
Throughout his years in Mexico, he managed to balance work while also volunteering tirelessly as President of the American Legion, President of the University of the Americas alumni association, and President of the American Society. He was the first African American member of the University Club in Mexico City.
To this day, at the age of 93, he has remained active because he knows that meeting people and learning from them is what keeps him connected to life. This is a value he has instilled to his children.
In each endeavor of his life he put his heart into his work with the smile and a friendly manner that characterize him. His achievements make him proud of his race and the legacy he is leaving his children. They are so proud of their dad. His daughter Alejandra says his children sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously follow in his footsteps.
He has said that he will never leave Mexico, not even after death. He wants to be buried at the American Cemetery.
In presenting the award to Angie Camacho, ABS Executive Director Aliki Elias offered these observations:
All of the employees at the ABS are outstanding and truly embody the mission of the American Benevolent Society, “a benevolent community organization dedicated to help Americans in need," but today we want to recognize one who has become synonymous with the word care and compassion.The recipient of this award came on board in 2016. Hired initially as the office manager and as the head of sales at the cemetery, she very quickly shone in everything she did at ABS. A few months later, the position of Social Service Manager was suddenly open, and our awardee jumped in with a kindness and compassion that was wonderful, and she became increasingly invaluable on many fronts.
A day does not go by without a phone call, visit, request anything you can think of that our recipient is called to do. Whether it is talking to a beneficiary who is scared of her neighbor, wants her dog’s nails trimmed, needs to go to the supermarket, needs to be taken to the hospital at 10 pm or just wants to talk, she will be there with a smile at any time of the day or night.Some phrases to describe her: There are certain people who have such a beautiful way about them and also a host of competencies that make them outstanding in anything they do. Basically, she is excellent in judging a situation and what is needed but more than anything making sure the person who is receiving the service is treated with maximum dignity and kindness and is totally comfortable.
Among many other assets is a wide range of information and a simple ability to solve situations with a willingness to jump in that is calm, cool, collected, kind and impressive. As much as she does for the ABS, she helps enormously other charitable activities. She has a host of folks whom she aids willingly and lovingly. Please join in in congratulating a very special human being and a most lovely person. Angela Camacho del Angel, or as she is known to all of us Angie.