Longtime Lake Riverside Estates security officer Kit Ray has retired from over two decades of service at the small gated community in Aguanga.
Tough, fair, alert, detail-oriented, professional and pleasant to a fault, 83-year-old Ray has served as a security officer for an incredible 23 years. She has provided a wealth of information to the residents and their animals. From knowing where all the dogs belong and watching out for the children at the bus stop, to tracking speeders and assisting with emergencies, she has “been there, done that” for the people in Lake Riverside Estates.
The memories she shares with many of the older residents in the association are instantly recalled and shared.
“I remember when every summer, word would go out in Anza that there was a pool party in Lake Riverside Estates, and 50 or 60 non-residents would show up,” she said. “I would have to be on extra alert on those days.”
Ray was formally recognized and wished well by the community’s board of directors, staff and caring residents at the open board meeting Thursday, Feb. 15, in Lake Riverside.
“I’m here to pay my respects to my friend Kit,” longtime acquaintance Mike McIntosh said.
Ray greeted her fans with huge smiles and grateful thanks for the special gifts bestowed upon her that evening. Plants, flowers, cards, letters, plaques and even a complimentary gate access card were presented to Ray, much to her surprise. Past security associate Marvin Coats from Securitas was on hand to give her a small gift, card and heartfelt hugs.
“Kit is the most dedicated officer I’ve ever met; I just love her,” he said.
A special “Kit” cake was served, and Graffiti Coffee supplied refreshing beverages for all the guests, who exchanged memories, especially among the younger generation who grew up with Ray overseeing their activities.
Ray’s love of children has always been obvious to community members, who saw her as stern yet forgiving.
“I enjoyed watching them grow up into adults, but some adults never grow up,” she said smiling, with a sidelong glance at McIntosh.
Not an armed officer in recent years, Ray did start out carrying a Glock pistol on her rounds, advised to do so because of a strong mountain lion presence within the community. One night she said she was glad she had it.
“I got a call one night of a mountain lion panicking some horses and went to investigate. Sure enough, there he was, growling, with eyes glowing in the beam of my flashlight. I fired several times into the ground, and the cat ran away,” she said. Her main concern was the safety of the horses and the people, she said, and she has always taken her job very seriously in that regard.
But Ray and the children shared many shenanigans as well, she said. Ray told guests of a barge that was kept on the lake for maintenance years ago. One day some children decided to pull it out into the middle of the lake and use it as a diving platform. Of course, Ray needed to get the barge back to shore right away.
“I shouted at them to bring it back, and they challenged me to make them do it,” she said. “So I simply informed them that a poisonous water moccasin snake had been removed from the barge just that morning. They could not bring it to shore fast enough!”
Residents said they will miss seeing Ray as she patrols the community in her white security truck.
“We lived in Lake Riverside Estates for over 14 years. Except for a couple brief periods, the one consistent factor was always Kit,” Leonard Handzlik said. “She was always friendly to us, very responsive to our calls for assistance, and I believe that Lake Riverside Estates will never have another security guard like her.”
Back in March 2015, Ray was hospitalized for major heart surgery. Community residents raised almost $3,000 to assist her. She said she was humbled by the huge outpouring of concern and support, and she was back patrolling in record time.
“I’ve retired five times,” she joked. “And always came back. If I get bored, I think Lake Riverside Estates will find me something to do. I have loved every minute working here and love the people dearly.”