Memorial Spaceflights

Ray V. Widing

"Lived by the Golden Rule"
1909 - 1997

Ray 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 the fine.

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 High School.

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 Herlein.

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.

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