Remembering Ray: health center radiology technologist passes

Gabrielle Moreira

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File Photo: Daily Sundial

Raymond Solis, the radiology technologist at the Klotz Student Health Center, was optimistic, cheerful, and caring. His enthusiasm for life was contagious.

Ray, as staff and students at the center called him, was an eclectic, fun and encouraging person to be around, even during the toughest moments of his life.

“Ray was a ray of sunshine to me and all of the staff at the Student Health Center,” said Dr. Yolanda Chassiakos, director and medical chief of staff at the Klotz Health Center.

Solis passed away at the age of 56 on Aug. 6 while waiting for a heart transplant. In 2007 he had hoped to have the transplant at the UCLA Medical Center, but the surgery was called off.

An avid runner, Solis had gone for a routine check-up in March 2007 for the L.A. Marathon and learned he had a hole in his heart. This deterred him from running in the marathon, but it didn’t cloud his view of living life to the fullest.

“Ray maintained his optimism,” said Chassiakos. “He even created a Facebook page to keep everyone updated on his progress while he was waiting for the transplant. He was very enthusiastic about his athletic activities.”

Chassiakos met Solis 13 years ago when she became the health center director. In 2004 Solis was in a traffic accident while riding his bike home from work. The accident kept him out for five months and he was required to wear a halo – a metal ring that is connected to the spine and neck by pins and fastened to metal rods.

Not long after his accident, Chassiakos went to visit him at the hospital. “He still had a smile across his face,” she said. Solis had worked at the health center for 21 years as the radiology technician and it was his X-ray room that had convinced Chassiakos to work there in 1999.

Though Solis preferred film radiology, the room was renovated a few years back to handle up-to-date computerized technology. But memorable pieces of his office still decorate the room. “Ray meant a lot to everyone he touched,” said Sharon Aronoff, health educator at the Klotz Health Center.  “He was a consummate professional and he always had that smile on his face.”

One of the fondest memories Chassiakos has of Solis was his desire to make sure students were comfortable during X-rays. Before his room was changed, students would immediately be at ease upon entering the chirping, brightly lit room. Even laying down on the X-ray table, students were greeted with photos of landscapes from all over the world.

“The gift he gave the staff and students with his smiles can never be forgotten,” Chassiakos said.

Friends, family, and coworkers have flooded a guestbook for Solis on legacy.com.

“Thank you for being there with your encouraging words,” said Lisa Solis, his younger sister. “I promise to continue to walk and live healthy, ‘one day at a time.’”

“I have learned a lot from him: how to love, care, and go forward with anything I do,” said Frank Solis, his brother. “I will miss him dearly, every day of my life,” he said.