Art Director Ray D'Amelio Gunned Down by a Burglar

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NEW YORK ( -- The staff at MRM Partners Worldwide grappled with grief and disbelief today as it prepared to memorialize its senior art director, Ray D'Amelio, who was gunned down by a burglar in his Lower East Side apartment June 12.

The 49-year-old, who had worked at MRM for six years, was highly regarded by colleagues.

'A gentleman and friend'
"Someone in our office put it well by saying Ray always wore baggy clothes to hide his angel wings," said Tracey Owens, MRM executive vice president and general manager. Ms. Owens described Mr. D'Amelio as a "real gentleman and friend."

Richard Eber, MRM's chief creative officer and Mr. D'Amelio's boss, said, "He was very humble. When I'd compliment him, he would cringe. He was very humble but very talented."

His work for the Peace Corps., done when he was an associate creative director at Backer Spielvogel Bates, New York, won a Clio award. Earlier in his career, Mr. D'Amelio was employed at Ogilvy & Mather.

Traveling outside of the U.S. was one of Mr. D'Amelio's favorite pastimes. "He loved food, culture -- especially Latin culture. He went to Havana twice and just returned from Rio," Ms. Owens said.

Despite his shyness, Mr. D'Amelio sang karoke for fun, said Barbara Boyle, Mr. D'Amelio's former wife and a friend. "He just won a chili contest," she said. "He was a great cook. His recipe is called 'Hombre Duro Smokin' Hot Chili.' He was the nicest, most talented and humble man."

Memorial service
He is survived by his mother, Mary; his father, Joseph, three brothers and a sister. A memorial service is scheduled for June 19 at the United Nations Chapel, 777 United Nations Plaza, at 3:30 p.m. His family has requested that donations be made to the Harlem School of Arts in his name. Colleagues at MRM Partners are buying a park bench in Central Park in his memory.

Steven Santos, the suspect in Mr. D'Amelio's murder, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday, according to a report in The New York Times. Police say that Mr. Santos, 20, confessed to killing three people, including Mr. D'Amelio, according to the same Times story.

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