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Ray White

Raymond White
1925 - 2010

Raymond was born in 1925, into a Ferndale household of six children, growing up in a hard-scrabble life during the Depression after his mother was widowed. A proud, decorated veteran of the D-Day invasion during World War II, Ray was a member of the 108th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion “Seabees” whose job was to construct an artificial harbor for the famous D-Day landing of allied troops in France. He entered the Navy in August of 1943 and served until April of 1946. Ray took part in a documentary that aired on the History channel recalling is participation during the war, and the “Honor Flights” of veterans to Washington, D.C.

A 1943 graduate of Lincoln High School, Raymond married his sweetheart, Mary Ruth Damon after the war. When meeting her parents for the first time, he was surprised to find that Mary’s mother was also his favorite grade school teacher!

When Ray retired from General Motors after more than thirty years in the auto industry, he helped out wherever he was able, becoming a well-loved and respected activist in the community. Ray was a Past president of the Ferndale Historical Society and the Fisher Body Retiree Association.

He also spent time behind the camera at Ferndale’s Cable TV during City Council meetings and helped the disabled in his spare time.

Those who knew Ray were always happy to see his smiling face appear with his ready sense of humor. Even if it was an old joke, his delivery made it funny again — “let me say this about that” he would intone, then ask a nonsensical question like “Did you skaz your burgnier off today?"

After surviving heart bypass surgery complicated by a stroke in 1997, and a bout with the West Nile Virus a few years later, Ray White continued his decades of civic engagement as a member of the Oak Park Election Commission (1989 - 2009) and the Board of Review (2006 - 2009). He also led the effort to build a replica of the “Crow’s Nest” traffic signal at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and 9 Mile Road in Ferndale. This was a very familiar corner to Ray, who led marching bands in parades down the street for many years as a volunteer assistant band director, inspired by marching in Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade as a child.

A big fan of the Detroit Tigers and Ernie Harwell, whom he considered a friend, Ray had a lifetime pass to the Baseball Hall of Fame, received for his donation of an antique three-finger glove. He was particularly proud of the softball trophy won while still playing in his 40s. His recollections of sandlot baseball and a kids training day with Hank Greenburg were cherished.

Ray attended the 1935 World Series, noted on the commemorative brick by the entrance to the new ball park. Another favorite pastime of Ray and his wife, Mary, was the Detroit Symphony, where they had box seats. A tuba player since 4th grade, Ray was fortunate to see his youngest son, Walter, perform with the symphony as a featured trumpet soloist.

Raymond Henry White, age 85, faithful husband of Mary Ruth (Damon) White for 62 years and loving father of five children, passed away August 4, 2010 from a congenital heart defect. Ray is survived by his wife, Mary; his brother, Harold (Sally); daughters, Elaine Hynes (Tim) and Bette; along with sons, William (Jennifer), Richard (Barbara) and Walter (Christianne); twelve grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren join in mourning the patriarch of the family. Always giving back, Ray donated his body for science to Wayne State University, from which Mary graduated in 1976. A celebration of his life was held on Sunday, August 15, from 1-3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, 22331 Woodward Avenue.

Ray and wife Mary at Museum
Ray and Mary at the Ferndale Historical Museum
Ray White Lincoln Graduation
Lincoln High School 1943
Ray volunteering at Council meeting
Ray volunteering at a City Council Meeting
Ray at Comerica Park, Detroit
Ray at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan

Ray's various medals
Ray's war medals

Building The Road To Freedom
Ray White
Ray's recount of his participation in the D-Day Invasion as a SeaBee
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