December’s Senior Spotlight is volunteer Ray Rognstad

Published on December 19, 2017 with 1 Comment

There are some people who seem to have experienced the entire world throughout their lifetime. Ray Rognstad is one of those people. The time seemed to roll by while listening to his story, and the thought, “then what” kept rolling in my mind.

Ray Rognstad

Rognstad was born in 1934 and he “worked his whole life.” He walked to school everyday in Lorain, Ohio; just outside of Cleveland. While in school, he said he always knew he would go into military service. His dad served in World War II. He said he helped his mother every day while his father was aboard ship. “I learned to sew, cook and take care of things.”

After high school he said he didn’t plan on college but he was told by a counselor to try for the Naval Academy and made it in but his eyes were found to have value blindness; he joined the Marines and went to Paris Island.

“I was designated to be a squad leader right away, simply because of my height.”

At that time, he said, the Korean war was going on. “My sergeant said, ‘Listen to what I’m telling you and you’ll stay alive.’ He’d been in Korea. I did what he said. I stayed alive.

He said, “We were there to stop the North Koreans from advancing into South Korea. It was 1953. I was in the First Division. Next, I was with the Second Division and went to Beirut to push back the guerillas into the mountains. We were like a stop gap wherever we were needed and then the Third Division and 6th Marine Regiment I was with the Second Marine Division. I was on one of the last ships into Havana Cuba before they closed to any military ships at the time.” He said he stayed in the Marines for 5 years. “Things are so different now. I enjoyed every bit of service. I was going to stay in but my hearing was so bad from ringing in my ears. It’s called ruptured acoustical nerves. I made sergeant.”

Ray Rognstad plays bingo at the Guy Thompson Community Center

Rognstad graduated from the Cleveland School of Art and began working with an independent illustrator named King Beach, Jr. working in photography. “I made $50 per week with an advertising photographer.” He worked with the illustrator for 9 years. He worked 10.5 years for General Electric in the lamp business division where they offered health benefits. “I was a family man.” After a layoff in the early 80s he moved to North Carolina and found himself working at the Cherry Point Marine Air Station as a maintenance engineer. He came to Milton in 2003. “I’ve moved a lot,” he said. “Ten times.”

Rognstad said he’d taken his early retirement and moved to Milton because he liked it here. “I’ve always volunteered. We bought this house in Milton and were happy to settle here. I met John Tompkin and volunteered at Green Up Nursery. I found out about the Guy Thompson Community Center. I go every day.” Senior Program Coordinator Joe Paschal said Rognstad is a tremendous help at the center. “Wow. Ray is such a great guy. He’s involved in every activity and is such a help.”

“The amazing thing is all of these things fit together. Everything I’ve ever done fits together somehow. It’s just God.”

After losing his wife to cancer last year, Rognstad said he wanted to be around more people. “I need to be active. I taught SCUBA diving, water safety, I was a deacon at church. I look back now and think, ‘how did I do all of that?’ I enjoy being around people. I have a chance to do things to help. At the community center I answer phones and help out where I can.”

 

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1 Comment

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  1. I have lost contact with this most wonderful and kind man. Could you.please send me his cell phone number. I have been friends with him for over 50 yrs. I’d love to hear from him.

    My name is john hoyt and I live in N. Canton, Ohio.

    Thank you.

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