Raymond V. Widing
1909 - 1997
by the Golden Rule"
V. Widing was born in Manistee, Michigan, on July 5, 1909. During
his high school years a paper route enabled him to save enough
money to buy a Model T Roadster. He was the envy of his high school
class. In the Roadster, he received his first speeding ticket
for exceeding 70 miles per hour. He protested, stating that the
car would not go that fast. He lost the argument and had to pay
Ray graduated from High School in 1927, earning
a diploma for completing the college preparatory course of study.
His class was the first graduating class of the then new Manistee
On October 9, 1929, Ray married his high school sweetheart, Vera
Crystal Callesen in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ray was 20 and his bride
was not quite 17. Their marriage lasted 63 years until Ray lost
Vera in 1993. During the honeymoon, Ray's father Axel Widing went
down in the car ferry S.S. Milwaukee which sank in a
storm on Lake Michigan. The entire crew was lost. The car ferry
was not found until 1963.
After the wedding, Ray and Vera lived in Muskegon,
Michigan. During the depression years Ray worked many jobs, mostly
as a salesman, to support his family which had grown to six members
by 1933. Beverly Jean was born in 1930, the twins Robert Roy and
William Ray in 1931, and Jerrold Duwane in 1933.
Ray grew tired of working as a salesman because
the income was not very dependable. He quit and went to work for
the local foundry, Campbell, Wyant & Canon. This was a hot,
sweaty and dirty job and Ray was not happy working there.
Shortly before World War II the family moved to
Flint, Michigan, where Ray worked for Sprague's Dairy as a milkman.
After a couple of years, Ray moved his family back to Muskegon,
Michigan, where he went to work for Highland Park Dairy.
All his life he wanted to be his own boss, and when the children
left home, Beverly to marry Benjamin Herlein, the twins Robert
and William to join the Air Force, and Jerrold to go to Michigan
State University, Ray quit the dairy and opened two Necchi/Elna
Sewing Centers, one in Fremont, Michigan, and one in Muskegon,
Michigan. Ray and Vera worked in the Sewing Centers until 1954.
The work allowed them to enjoy interacting with the public.
In 1954 they went on a vacation to Southern California
and both fell completely in love with the area. They returned
to Michigan, sold everything, and moved to the Hollywood/Los Angeles
area where Ray's mother, Elizabeth Widing, had already moved to
live with her brother, Walter Keith.
The Widings attempted several ventures with none
of them panning out. They eventually settled in Santa Barbara
in 1957 and bought the Santa Barbara Hearing Aid Center.
They were in the Hearing Aid business for about 30 years. The
first few years were very lean, but Ray and Vera worked long hours
cultivating a record of being honest and hard working. Ray traveled
all over Southern California, from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles,
fitting hearing aids on everyone including babies, children, as
well as seniors. His reputation flourished and he received many
referrals from medical doctors.
If a patient had a problem with their hearing aid
on Sunday, they would call Ray at home and he would meet them
to try to help them out. He dedicated himself to the public.
Ray developed one of the most successful hearing
aid businesses in California. He was a past president of the Hearing
Aid Association of California and a member of the International
Hearing Society for 35 years. He retired at the age of 73 and
sold the business to his daughter Beverly and son-in-law Benjamin
Ray and Vera then traveled all over the world.
Among the places they visited were Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark,
the Netherlands, England, and Australia. They eventually bought
a home in their old home town of Manistee, living summers in Michigan
and winters in California.
After he lost Vera, life wasn't the same. Ray died
after a long illness on Sept. 28, 1997, at Mission Terrace Convalescent
Home in Santa Barbara, California.