top of page


Ray Roussel

Toronto Optimists - Ray Roussel

Celebrating our Website Founder

Ray Roussel

Renaissance Ray


So exactly where would a group of old farts go when they needed someone to design a modern, snazzy looking website to let the drum corps community know the who, what, why, where, when of The Optimists Alumni? The search began and ended within our very own ‘old fart’ bubble. 

Ray Roussel is the most well-read human I have ever met. When he wanted to write and arrange music, he read up on it. When he became interested in being a music copyist, he read up on it and practised faithfully, every damn day. When he decided he’d like to be a writer, he read the dictionary. When he became fascinated by computers, he

read up on them and became so good at understanding software that he worked for years as a technical writer, bringing programs to life for the great unwashed. He also read just for the joy of reading. What temerity!

Ray was a self-taught soul in all he accomplished.

He designed the first Alumni website around the idea that it should be easy to use and fun to get involved in. As usual, he did a lovely job. 


Ray was a happy soul who always found good where other’s couldn’t — a true Optimist. I miss him every day.

                                                                                                                                                     -Vern Johansson

George Wright, Ric Brown, Mhairi Cumming, Andy Henderson, Vern Johansson, Ray Roussel

George Wright, Ric Brown, Mhairi Cumming, Andy Henderson, Vern Johansson, Ray Roussel

Ray Roussel and Vern Johansson

Ray Roussel and Vern Johansson

Roussel Brothers (Den, Rick, Tim and Ray)  (from How Rick Roussel Became An Optimist by Ray Roussel)

Roussel Brothers (Den, Rick, Tim and Ray)

(from How Rick Roussel Became An Optimist by Ray Roussel)

Marching In Ray's Footsteps


Hello fellow alumni of the Optimists and other visitors! As a new member of one of the Optimists organizations, I thought I joined for the sole purpose of continuing to play contra (tuba) with a group of like-minded and fun musicians. OK, that did happen and I was happy to continue something that started for me in 1971 as a Cardinal of Precious Blood (then Oakland Crusaders, then Santa Clara Vanguard). However, the scope of my involvement with the Optimists Alumni changed when our previous webmaster, Bob Carell, had announced his retirement from supporting the rich and vast website he had help nurture from what Ray had started.


Yes, there have been many friends of mine who marched with Toronto Optimists, Seneca Optimists, Optimists Alumni, and the feeder corps, but in taking on the support of the new website, I had no idea of the education I was about to journey through. With Bob's help, I ramped up as fast as I could on the existing website and learned the technology behind it (I had retired from over 30 years of I.T.). Next, I decided to bring the technology up to current standards to help with supportability and to create functionality for others to easily contribute content without being webmasters.


So that was the tech part and I've enjoyed it... mostly. What I discovered along the way, was how deep and well-documented the Optimists history was. I became immersed in that history and found myself very familiar with the people from over a half century ago to those in the Alumni corps years. They may not know me, but I now know them. Names like Bud Parker, Al Baggs, the Roussel brothers, Colin Hedworth, Vern Johansson, and many more, have been people I could tell you something about. What I finally understood was that I was actually an Optimist and not just a member of the Alumni. To be a member of the Optimists, is to be part of something wonderful that carries on with its vast and rich history foundationally supporting it.


In working on this tribute page to Ray Roussel, I was so happy to see that my design of the 2021 version of the website was immensely close to the first version he created. Everything from the simple and celebratory background images of the Toronto Optimists to the easy to navigate menu system above.


Thanks Ray, for, in some way, bringing me into that Optimists history and the opportunity to march in your footsteps. March On!

        - Brian Menard

Our Website Over The Years

Optimist Alumni - Original Website by RayRoussel

2002 - The Original by Ray Roussel

bottom of page