In Loving Memory of Our Founder
Friends Forever Founder
The Friends Forever International family changed eternally with the loss its founder on January 1st, 2014. Bob Raiche founded FFI in 1986 when he took a group of 5 Protestant and 5 Catholic boys from Northern Ireland and brought them to the United States, transforming them into young peacemakers. Bob is deeply missed by all whose lives he’s touched and is a testament to one person's ability to change the world.
Bob passed away peacefully at the age of 85. He was born and raised in Springfield, MA and received his Bachelor and Master Degrees from Springfield College. After becoming involved with the local YMCA, Bob was asked to be the Executive Director of the Hilo YMCA in Hawaii. Living there for five years, Hawaii is where Bob met his wife and where he considered his true home to be.
Bob married the love of his life, Yooko, and moved to Danvers, MA in 1960 where he founded the Danvers YMCA. In the years to follow Bob served as the Executive Director of YMCA’s in Salem, MA, and Portsmouth, NH and briefly served as the director of the MA chapter of the National Kidney Foundation. In his “retirement” Bob fulfilled his lifelong ambition to be an entrepreneur by opening a toy store in Danvers.
No matter what was going on in his life, Bob remained dedicated to Friends Forever International. He was always at the airport to greet the groups of young people and did so just months before his passing. In addition to immeasurable gratefulness, Bob received numerous awards and recognitions for his work with us including the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, the Martin Luther King JR. Diversity Award, The Paul Harris Fellow and most recently a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. A longtime Rotarian himself, Bob also received two of Rotary International’s highest honors; the Service Above Self Award and the Donald MacRae Peace Award.
Bob is survived by his wife of 53 years, Yooko, and their three children; George and his wife Joan; Robert Jr. and his children, Robert III and Katharine; Ina and her husband Gregory and their children, Christopher and Jason, as well as many special relatives from Hawaii and California.
A humanitarian, family man, youth worker, friend, role model and inspiration to all, Bob has touched the lives of thousands. He as inspired many to become involved in the international peace process, who may otherwise have not. His legacy will bring hope to countless young people across the world for decades to come. Rest in peace dear friend.
By request of his family, the Robert Raiche Fund has been set up in Bob's name to help carry on the inspiring work Bob dedicated his life to.