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Sept. 8, 1954 – Jan. 5, 2013

Abu Bilal Abdur-Rahman, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and an advocate for prisoners and former prisoners, died Saturday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center after a long illness. He was 58.

A native of Buffalo, “Mr. B,” as he preferred to be called, was a graduate of East High School, where he was known as Willie Ray Jr. He attended both Erie and Genesee community colleges and was a U.S. Army paratrooper from 1971 to 1973.

He had a passion for the arts, including reading, writing poetry and drumming. He was the author and publisher of “The Joy of My Life,” which was dedicated to his daughter, the late Brittany Joy Ray.

“Mr. B” was a former employee of Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services and was proprietor of Ruff Buff Clothing Co. He also was a court advocate at Back to Basic Ministries and was involved in Prisoners R People Too, and he received numerous awards.

Survivors include his wife, the former Venita C. Pickett; three sons, Ronald Keels Jr., and Willie and Jihad Ray; five daughters, Aisha Ray, Gwendolyn Lee, Susan Smith, Chausiku Ray and Eboni Ray; and two sisters, Patricia Hamilton-Stacey and Pamela Linton.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in Masjid Darus-Salaam, 75 East Parade Ave., followed by a repast in New Cedar Grove Life Changing Church, 100 Old Maryvale Road, Cheektowaga.