ur beloved Ray passed on May Day; he was born in October of 1929 in Scotia, simultaneous with the beginning of the Great Depression. His immigrant parents (Yolanda and Giovanni/John) had come from Lucca and Italian was his first language. He was raised in a boarding home surrounded by saloons in Wildwood/Rio Dell. He went to sleep listening to the music coming from the bars in his neighborhood. His love of music, both contemporary and classical, had its beginnings here; he knew all the songs from this night life. He loved to whistle. He whistled through blindness, seizures, eight knees, anosmia (loss of smell), freezing cold and after he broke a bunch of teeth, he learned to whistle again. His mother called him ‘Testa Dura’ because trouble and injury were his companions and yet he continued. His whistling was his art but his positive attitude was a gift from God. His high school sweetheart would become the love of his life but first he joined the Marine Corp and fought in Korea. He survived the battle of the Chosin Reservoir after enduring frostbite, grenades and the loss of buddies. He would suffer the rest of his life for this conflict but he never complained and he was proud he helped South Korea enjoy freedom from tyranny. Ray was a Marine and this shaped his life, he loved his fellow veterans.
Coming home, he went to HSU and became a teacher. He chose this ‘noble profession’ because he believed teaching would help him impact others the most. He taught at Arcata City Schools but spent most of his teaching career at Winship in Eureka. If you had him for a class you would remember him, a blind teacher named Mr. C. He was a disciplinarian his students respected. He loved swimming and he taught many how to swim. He loved shooting, reloading and hunting. His Tack Hammer club at Winship taught many how to shoot and hunter’s safety. He loved the outdoors and his guidance with Boy Scouts taught many to appreciate adventure and nature. He loved baseball so he coached. He loved his community and his involvement in Kiwanis helped serve this purpose, his Kiwanis club was dear to him.
He was married to his beloved wife Marilyn Ann Wise for 63 years. She was his rock, caregiver, loving companion and warden. Together they built a family. Two Sons, Lance (Vicki) and Kirk (Lynda) led to 7 grandchildren, Ellen (David), Cambria (Louis), Boaz, Nathan (Heidi), Moriah, Amos and Hadassah. He was preceded in death by his sister Melba and her husband Al Bianchini, by his brother-in-law Pete Hill and his sister-in-law Betty Wahl. His sister Jean Hill survives him. His nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors and friends are all a part of his legacy for which he was very thankful.
The family was with him singing, telling stories, and caring for him when he went to glory. He had run his course, fought the good fight and set an example that inspires. He said not to cry for him but to laugh at the size of his nose. The family wants to thank St. Joseph ICU and Humboldt Hospice for their care and help. We would have loved to have shared this time with you in a celebration of his life and we are sorry that we cannot invite you to such an event. We encourage you to play some Sinatra, enjoy some big band music, teach someone, be caring and know Ray’s vision is now restored, he is whistling with the angels and he is with his Savior.
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