We celebrated the life of Deacon Ray Standford Miller this past week. I believe there was even a tear in the eyes of the Rev. Calvin O. Butts, along with everyone else, as Miller was loved by many.

Born in Harlem Hospital to Roscoe and Beatrice Miller on April 12, 1961, Ray was a true New Yorker. He walked the walk, talked the talk and sang with all of his heart and soul. He literally knew how to put his body into it as he swung and swayed with every beat. Miller leaves behind his loving wife, Denise, and their daughter, Mariah Jeanne; his three sons, Sgt. 1st Class Ray Garnett, Sgt. Quincy Miller and Christian King; his daughter, Shanay McCoy; grandchildren Tierra Garnett, Jaiden Miller and Elijah McCoy; a devoted mother-in-law, Jean DeWees; two sisters-in-law, Nina and Christina; brother-in-law Donald Childs Jr. and his wife Jewell. Gone but never forgotten.

While I don’t consider myself to be particularly wise about politics, especially regarding international affairs, I did read a recent article relating how the Syrian insurrection is inching its way into the city of Damascus. Well known for their love of nightlife, Damascenes are fearful that war will reach the heart of the city any day now. As one resident put it, there used to be a time when all the people of Syria were one, regardless of their religious beliefs. Now, no one knows who to speak to; no one can be trusted; people want to kill. Scary.

During a recent encounter with some Harlem newcomers, the couple asked us, “Is it safe to live around here?”

We chuckled when we heard this and replied, “Well, where are you from?”

“Damascus,” they said. Damascus! And you’re asking us if it’s safe here? Harlem is a piece of cake, considering where you are coming from.

So interesting. As the air is full of fall and Halloween is beckoning, it’s always so much fun to get into the spirit of things. This is especially so when the store windows are designed with ghostly, ghastly things. One store on Amsterdam Avenue, between 72nd and 73rd streets, has just such a display. Prominent in the window are several full-headed masks of different personalities. Among those are President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, next to which was the scariest mask of the devil–all fiery red–that I had ever seen. Yikes! Is somebody trying to say something?

On Saturday, Oct. 27, NYC Parks will celebrate the fall harvest season as they host the annual Pumpkin Fest in Central Park. Featured will be a ghoulishly scary haunted house, the popular pumpkin patch and free pumpkins with pumpkin decorating courtesy of Syfy. There will be loads of fun for everyone. Meet at the Central Park Bandshell by entering the park at 72nd Street, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., come rain or shine.

Over 700 people gathered under the twinkling lights of the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom to celebrate the 134th fundraising gala for the United Hospital Fund. Distinguished guests included Dr. Edgar and Harriette Mandeville, Roger Fergurson Jr., Louis Fair Jr. and Blenda Wilson.

Following on the heels of this event will be the Signature Event of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs. Scheduled to take place Thursday, Nov. 15, 6:30 p.m. at the New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Ave., this will be uptown’s answer to downtown’s shindig. Dedicated to the memory and legacy of Lloyd Sherman, who passed away earlier this year, the Signature Event has Michelle Paige Paterson, former New York state first lady, as its honorary chair. Dinner committee chair is Denise Ellison. It’s not too early to mark your calendars–so do so now lest you forget. Call 212-241-8276 for tickets.

Happy birthday to you, Neal Forman, Dr. Johnny Williams, Derrick Singleton and Charles Mitchell. Happy anniversary, Seymour James and the Hon. Cheryl Chambers.

At the eighth annual Celebration of Hope Auction for the Bowery Mission’s Women’s Center, held at the Bowery Hotel, $141,000 was raised. The Bowery Mission Women’s Center, Manhattan’s only faith-based residential recovery program for homeless women, is committed to the vision of a safe home where a woman without shelter, without hope and without an advocate can find spiritual, emotional and physical restoration. Visit www.bowery.org to learn more.

I know the month was July, I’m just not sure if it was July 2012 or 2011. What I do remember is telling you all about a mega-event that raised mega-millions to continue the renovation of Roosevelt Island. Finally, after a long and often tumultuous time, the finishing touches have been completed and topped off with the dedication ceremony officially opening the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park (now you remember). All the political bigwigs were there to kick things off, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a few of Roosevelt’s grand- and great-grandchildren, and others too politically savvy to mention.

It was 1941 when FDR, then president of the United States, made his rousing “Four Freedoms” speech. To this day, that speech remains a cornerstone of democracy. Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear: Tell that to the Middle East.

Until next week … kisses.