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Ray Shafer, Ninety Years of Memories

Ray Shafer, Ninety Years of Memories: allegiance to the U.S.A.-a nation under God and service to others

By Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

Ray Shafer enjoyed an overwhelming crowd of well-wishers at his 90th birthday Open House this past weekend at the Biggsville United Presbyterian Church.

And rightly so as he remains a true patriot in service to his community and country as he did in World War II in the U.S. Army, taking part in that often talked about landing on Normandy. He was a devoted son, husband and father, and was a hard worker who always was there for his family. He is a master carpenter, and a community leader excelling in scouting as a scoutmaster who helped shape many many young boys lives into responsible young men, passing on the same values he had learned and modeled so well.

Ray's life is full of remarkable Henderson County history of a local boy turned man at a young age.

There is never enough time, nor is there enough space in The Quill, to adequately express the heart, mind, and life of this special gentleman.

It shows once again how a man can be a kind wonderful human being, yet he can be a warrior in the battles that men must fight to protect home, country, family and community, as well as the God they serve.

At ninety, Ray takes time every Wednesday, to make an important phone call to the Minority Leader of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House, telling them to get something done.

"I'm here to tell you as a veteran who fought for this country, "Things are out of control!"

"During the war in France and Germany during WWII, I saw a lot of white flags saying, "Thanks Yanks for freeing us! We're going to be trapped if we don't impeach him (Obama). Enough is enough!"

Ray said that Obama is following some of the things that Hitler has done.

"It bothers me a lot! We were 19 and 20 years old when we went to war and now we are old and the young kids are going to give us away to Obama-that bothers me.

"I'm in the opinion that he hates America and what we stood for and we gotta get him out of there! We've NEVER had a president do what he's doing now. I imagine we have a lot of other World War II veterans who feel the same way. It wasn't easy fighting through there," Ray said.

To start at the beginning, Ray was born in Stronghurst on October 13, 1923, the second child of Cliff and Ethel Tucker Shafer. His older brother was Clifford (1921-2011).

His mother was a housewife and mother, his father and Uncle Bob Shafer delivered groceries in Stronghurst for the stores in his dad's Model T Ford.

A sister Gloria (1926-?) (Harland) Jaynes was born in 1926, the same year his dad hired out on the Apt farm in Carman and the family moved to the country.

Ray recalls being there when Charles Lindbergh flew his plane for the first time from New York to Paris, France in "The Spirit of St. Louis" where Lindbergh had gotten his financial backing.

"I remember it well. Dad and mom had traded cars and had "The Gardner." They backed the car up and hooked power from the car battery to power the radio, and the family listened to the excitement of the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

"I was 4 years old and I remember that big radio and all the dials they had to turn to get that station tuned in. It was quite a deal to synchronize all those numbers."

To give an idea of what the world was listening to in the 1920s, and the influences that the news media has upon the nation and on Ray and his comrades in their early days- a brief part of the Lindbergh report is included here:

Charles Lindbergh

Flies the Atlantic, 1927:

[At 7:52 A.M., May 20, 1927 Charles Lindbergh gunned the engine of the "Spirit of St Louis" and aimed her down the dirt runway of Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York.

Heavily laden with fuel, the plane bounced down the muddy field, gradually became airborne and barely cleared the telephone wires at the field's edge. The crowd of 500 thought they had witnessed a miracle.

Thirty-three and one half-hours and 3,500 miles later, he landed in Paris, France, the first to fly the Atlantic alone. The waiting crowd of 100,000 rushed the plane.

"I saw there was danger of killing people with my propeller and I quickly came to a stop."

Lindbergh became an instant hero, "the Lone Eagle." New York City gave him the largest ticker tape parade ever, the president awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

His feat electrified the nation and inspired enthusiastic interest in aviation.

It was as if everyone saw in him something that they sought in themselves-a spirit of adventure and achievement in life.

Somehow Charles Lindbergh represented the symbol of hope in a weary world, for there was something unique about his integrity, courage, and indifference to honors.

"He had started with no purpose but to arrive. He remained with no desire but to serve. He sought nothing, he was offered all." ]

Shafer's life was shaped by an attitude that opportunity is the result of integrity, courage, and service through hard work, and without the thought of getting a reward for doing the right thing.

What a difference in today's America with growing shouts of "What's in it for me?" rather than an attitude of service.

Eight more children were born to the family: in 1928 Meredith; in 1930 Ada (Richard) Reed; 1933 Helen (Doug) Hulen; 1934 Joann (Wayne) Rednour; 1936 Lyle (Louise) Shafer; 1939 Richard (Debbie) Shafer; and 1943 Lyle (Louise) Shafer; 1943 Robert Dean Shafer (Opal). His parents and all but one sibling have died of cancer (Ada with Alzheimzers) with only Helen and Ray still living. Bob, Lyle, Meredith and Ray have served in the military. Helen lives in Anchorage, Alaska in the summer and Palm Springs, CA in the winter.

Ray Shafer, continues next week