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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Tribute to Raymond Rank, my father in law.

I would like to honor Raymond Rank. Ray became my father-in-law when I married Catherine Ann Rank, better known to her friends as Cat LaFlamme, my wife.
Ray was not the kind of man who got his name in the papers. He was the kind of blue- collar worker who provided the muscle and backbone the rest of us depend on, but don’t think too much about as we go about our lives. He was a construction worker, primarily a carpenter and cement finisher. We often don’t consider the human factor involved in the buildings we live and work in, but without men like Ray, these structures wouldn’t exist.
Some of the buildings Ray worked on were:
The State Capitol Complex
Baptist Hospital
Deaconess Hospital
St. Anthony’s Hospital
The Physician’s Building
Oklahoma State University
Northwest Classen High School
John Marshall High School
The Murrah Federal Building
Southwestern Bell
The Patio Building
The United Founders Tower
The General Motors Plant
Dunlop Tire Factory
OKCPS Maintenance Facility
Swann Rubber, Stillwater
The Gold Dome Building
We also don’t consider the suffering that all too often is a part of those buildings. In 1970, while building the Ralston Purina silo in Edmond, Ray fell 35 feet on to a concrete floor, an accident that disabled him for the rest of his life.
Ray was a union man and because of his union pension, Social Security, and workman’s compensation, he was still able to live a modest, basically middle-class life for his remaining 35 years. He raised 4 daughters, bought a home, and still managed to keep up with his carpentry work, even helping his daughter Catherine remodel the home she and I live in in The Village till age and the effect of his injuries caught up with him. He died on April 2nd of this year 2 days after his 77th birthday.
Ray didn’t want a funeral, so we held a celebration of his life here at Mayflower. Turns out that Ray had a connection to this congregation, because as an infant, Ray was christened in the old Pilgrim Congregational Church on 16th St. His wife Donna, Cat and I plan to take his ashes to one of his favorite fishing spots to give the fish a chance to get back at him. Ray would have liked that idea. He didn’t want any gravestone to mark his passing.
In St. Paul’s Cathedral, there is a plaque to its architect Christopher Wren that reads, "If you seek his monument, look about you." So as you go through the city this Father’s Day, you will see monuments to Raymond Rank, and the countless men and women who have built Oklahoma.

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