ROGERS PARK — Ray Pate was a friendly and compassionate presence, often found behind the counter of the record shops he owned and the taverns he operated.
Pate was a natural, giving his establishments an air of Chicago authenticity and making friends with anyone who stepped in, said his daughter, Olivia Pate.
“Lots of people have been calling him the quintessential Chicago guy,” she said. “He definitely was.
“The phrase I’ve been using is ‘ultimate life of the party.’ He had that quintessential bartender energy. He could talk to anyone and he could listen to anyone.”
Ray Pate, the owner of Chicago Ray Records in Rogers Park and the former owner of several other North Side record stores and bars, died last month at 64. His funeral service was Wednesday, the day after what would have been his 65th birthday.
Chicago Ray Records, 7051 N. Clark St., will close this weekend after a liquidation sale. The sale is a way to wind down the store while serving as a testament to Pate and his love of music, his daughter said.
“My sisters and I would love to have the music and other items go to good homes,” Olivia Pate said. “We know my dad would like that.”
The sale will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Chicago Ray Records. The store’s collection of vinyl, CDs, cassettes, stereo equipment and other items will be offered at steep discounts, Pate said.
Ray Pate opened Chicago Ray Records in August 2020 in his home neighborhood of Rogers Park. It was just the latest business venture for the lifelong North Sider.
Pate previously owned RPM Music at 1839 W. Irving Park Road, which was in business 2016-2018. A dispute with the landlord forced RPM to close, but it gave Pate the opportunity to open a store in a neighborhood he knew well.
“The plan was to always open again and move into Rogers Park because it’s needed here,” Pate previously said. “People who buy records are moving here. Rents are going up and they can find a deal here.”
Before getting into the record store business, Pate was a tavern owner.
He and a business partner opened Players on Clark in Lakeview in 1990 in the shadow of Wrigley Field. After renting the entire building, including the bar, Pate moved into the apartment above Players, he told the Chicago Tribune in 1992.
After that, Pate opened Simply Ray’s in Ravenswood, which lasted for a few years in the 1990s, Olivia Pate said.
Pate’s friendly enthusiasm was on display at Chicago Ray Records. In weekly videos on the store’s Facebook page, Pate would film himself going through the store’s newest vinyl, his love of music on full display.
The last video was posted on Jan. 18.
Pate died Jan. 20 from complications of a lower body vein condition he had endured for years, Olivia Pate said. Despite the ongoing condition, Pate was otherwise healthy and his death came as a shock to family and friends.
“It was very sudden,” Olivia Pate said. “Right up until then, he was doing everything at the store by himself.”
Since Pate’s death, friends and customers have reached out to his family with stories of his kindness and friendship. Friends helped raise $8,000 for Pate’s funeral arraignments.
The stories have helped the family cope with their loss, Olivia Pate said.
“It’s been amazing for me and my sisters to hear,” she said. “We’ve learned so much of who he was to his friends. It’s just a great community of people.”
Friends and customers will have another chance to honor Pate by making use of his extensive record collection. Customers coming to the store this weekend are asked to bring their own bags or boxes to haul out records. Cash and electronic payments via Venmo and Zelle will be accepted.
“We could have gotten rid of the records or donated them,” Olivia Pate said. “We want to get them into the hands of people who will enjoy it.”
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