Last month, we attended the funeral for a very dear family friend. I've known Ray my entire life. In fact, he's the one that drove my mom to the hospital when she went into labor with me! Where was my father, you ask? Hauling corn in Valentine, Nebraska. I was 3 weeks early. Ray and his family attended our little country church...one of three families that weren't related to us. But they were like family.
I have a few memories of Ray working at the bank, but most of my memories are of Ray as superintendent. Ray gave big bear hugs and had a heart even bigger. You'd be hard-pressed to find a man who cared more about every one of his students.
If he saw a need, he did everything he could to meet it (anonymously most of the time--there are many things I've heard he did for students, but you'd never hear him admit. Humility...another rare quality Ray possessed).
It wasn't uncommon to see him in the hallways and if you did, he always gave you a double thumbs up.
He was also the driver's education instructor for many years. And he made a deal with every one of his students: if he caught you without a seat belt on, you had to buy him a pop. If you caught him without a seat belt on, he had to buy you a pop. I don't think he ever had to buy anyone a pop! I remember one day when a girl was driving...her turn was coming up pretty quickly and she seemed to be oblivious to that fact. All the rest of us students were getting pretty nervous, hitting our imaginary brakes. But Ray, he just calmly reminded her she needed to slow down, her turn was coming up...his brake wasn't imaginary, but he didn't use it! :) He always had a very tanned right arm in the summers from all the driving he did with students (that evened things out with his other arm, from all the driving he did normally).
Ray was present at just about every sporting event. He loved the regional track meet. He was also a huge WSU fan.
His faith was an integral part of Ray. He was involved in Navigators back in the day and I think was responsible for getting most of the couples from our church to attend. He was also big on "Memorize the Word". He did just about everything at our church, at some point...even preaching! His wife, Jane, was the piano player. When he led the singing, he "directed". I just have to close my eyes when I hear a familiar hymn and I can see him standing up there behind the old podium, directing away. He was a Sunday school teacher-children's and adults' (although I don't know that he ever taught the really little ones!). There was no compromising when it came to his faith. And I have no doubt that there were many times it would have been easier to do so. I'm not foolish enough to think, that even in our small community, there weren't times that made it hard to hold fast to his faith and his beliefs. He was one of my dad's closest friends and a great example and encouragement to Dad. I know the Lord welcomed him to Heaven with the blessed words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Ray's faith was his life. His Savior was His best friend. He was sick for several months before he passed away, but that doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye. I'm so thankful we had the opportunity to see him one more time over New Year's. And my family continues to hold up those left behind in prayer...for strength and courage to face each new day without Ray.