Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve...I already miss you

I love Christmas and the holidays and the time away from work and the feeling of relaxation I get during this time each year. It is these moments I cherish the most.

Yet, today I received some sad news. If you have read this blog for some time, you may remember my Private Caller update of December 8, 2007. Ray Weinberger, the instigator of that call, passed away on December 16.

Ray and I talked on the phone a couple of times over the past year. Ray had a phenomenal memory and he remembered so many poignant facts of my family's history that he became an instant friend. I loved talking to Ray because he would ask questions and share more information in one brief discussion than others can do in years of conversations.

I met Ray at the AHSGR/GRHS combined convention this past summer in Casper, Wyoming. In person, he talked just as fast and was as energetic and as lively as a person could be. He shared with me his picture of his class from Trinity Lutheran school in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. My Uncle Fred was in the photograph and Ray made sure I could identify both of them before he would point out either of the two to me.

We attended the afternoon sing-a-long and truly enjoyed the camaraderie of the group. There is nothing like singing in German to build a bond with someone.

Not that I needed something to build a bond with Ray. He was one of those people you got to know quickly. And, he knew so much about my past that I felt he understood me, too.

Ray's wife, Ginny, sent me a copy of his service's program. The information truly captured the essence of Ray's life, so here is an excerpt from it.

Ray Weinberger, 79, of Arvada, Colo. died on December 16, 2008.
He was born, the second son to immigrant parents, Sophie and
Gottlieb Weinberger in Sheboygan, Wis.
He attended Central High School in Sheboygan, Wis., and served in
the US Army from 1951-53. He met Virginia J. Suscha and they
married in 1956. He worked as a traveling salesman for 25 years and
at one time covered eight states in the Western U.S.
A member of the German-Russian Society, Ray was very proud of his
German heritage and enjoyed attending society meetings in various
locations. He was a member of the Arion Gesangsverein choir and
never tired of trying to get people to sing just one more round of ‘Ein
Prosit der Gem├╝tlichkeit.’ He loved to dance and had a glamorous
partner in Ginny.
Above all, Ray loved to talk, discuss, convince, disagree, argue,
provoke and even taunt. Agreeing to disagree was not an option and
he never felt like a conversation was completely finished until he
convinced the other person to see things his way. He had a broad
vocabulary, rich with out-dated words, sayings and ‘Ray-isms’ that
were as colorful as his own character. He loved to question people
and things. Asking a probing question, one that no one else had
thought of asking, gave him a world of satisfaction.
He loved foreigners, foreign cultures and old Europe. He inspired a
sense of adventure in his children and encouraged them to travel and
know the world.
As a depression era survivor, Ray loved bargains. Shopping
entertained him and he loved finding a good deal, or better yet,
getting something for free. He routinely drove across town to save 10
cents a pound on bananas.

While I only knew Ray for a short time, he had a great impact on my life. He filled in gaps in my family history and for that I will always be grateful. As I begin this holiday season today, it begins with a hole in my heart. I already miss you and because of that, I will cherish every moment more than ever.

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