He’s Turning 100 and Still Volunteering


Not everyone gets to celebrate a century of life. Cowell Family Cancer Center volunteer Raymond Weber will do exactly that on May 20.

The former Kingsley area resident came into the world on the family farm in Hannah in 1921. Warren G. Harding was just elected president. Former Red Sox star Babe Ruth had been traded to the Yankees and was beginning a record year that would conclude with 59 home runs.

A community hospital in Traverse City that would be initially named James Decker Munson Hospital was still in the planning and fundraising stages.

“I was one of 11 children – nine boys and two girls,” he said. He recalls his second decade during the Great Depression as a time when “we lived pretty frugally, but we had our own vegetables, chicken, pork, and beef.”

A volunteer at Cowell Family Cancer Center since 2017, Ray shares that he graduated from St. Mary of Hannah Catholic School and when World War II broke out received the call from Uncle Sam to serve in the Army. After basic training in Texas, he was assigned to an engineering unit that trained in Louisiana and then was sent to Europe to use their bridge-building skills to help the allied armies advance.

His battalion helped bridge the Ruhr, Elbe, Weser, and Rhine rivers in Germany to allow infantry and cavalry units to advance across Europe in 1944.

After the War
After returning home from the war, he found work at a company making helicopter blades for the military, and then went into road construction during the 1960s. For the final chapter of his working career he joined the company now called Cone Drive Operations – a company he retired from in 1983.

Ray married the love of his life, Bernadine, who went by “Bernie” in 1950. They had two daughters Jeanine and Cindi. Later came four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. “Bernie” passed away in 2001.

“She was a hard worker,” he said. “I never found another one like her, so I never married again.”

Enjoying Volunteering
Ray enjoys the opportunity of volunteering and helping at Cowell Family Cancer Center – mainly getting patients in wheelchairs to their destinations.

“I like to be around people. I’m home and by myself and it gives me an opportunity to get out and do something,” he said.

An active man who still drives himself to church and does some shopping, he pauses when asked for advice on reaching the century mark.

“I don’t look back much, I keep looking forward,” he said. “I used to have a garden and in the winter time I started going to Florida for three months. When the weather is decent, I also walk about a mile every day.”

Munson Medical Center Volunteer Manager Theresa Stachnik characterizes Ray and a “great example of someone who belongs to the ‘greatest generation.’”

“Ray’s strong work ethic, integrity, and humility show each time he volunteers his time as a Cowell Family Cancer Center concierge volunteer. Ray is one of the most dedicated volunteers I know and always delivers help straight from the heart,” she said. “We are honored he chose our organization to share his time and talents.  He is a welcoming face at the Cowell Family Cancer Center.”

Learn more about volunteering and the services at Cowell Family Cancer Center by visiting munsonhealthcare.org.