By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER
Welcome to Elegies of Joy, welcome to the remembrance of one of New Hampshire’s own lost to coronavirus.
Ray Kohler died at 72, a Veteran, a Father, a Grandfather, a Husband
In talking with his wife, Marie, I learned not only that Ray left a full, wonderful life, I learned that in his community of Manchester “Ray Stories” is a thing.
Years ago, Ray decided to mow his lawn on a warm day in June. It was hot and he’d not dressed for the weather, sporting jeans and work boots. Ray decided to go inside and change into shorts. When he got into his cool kitchen, he sat down for a drink, hydrating as the sweat dripped from his brow. He took off his boots, his heavy jeans, sat and took a breather before he returned to his lawn.
Ray must have had a lot on his mind as he then simply put his boots back on, forgetting that he’d neglected to replace his pants with shorts.
He returned outside that warm, muggy June day dressed only in his tighty whities, shirt and work boots, pushing his lawn mower, cutting the grass.
And, as he liked to mow with a cigar between his lips, he’d lit up a stogie and continued his lawn work, waving to passers by who slowed to witness this site.
Marie laughed as she shared this story, her husband of 49 years still bringing her joy, relating that their two daughters, Christine and Karyn, had shared this memory for a Father’s Day contest at WMUR and won.
Ray won with laughter, Ray won with kindness, Ray won with complete and utter love for sports and his four grandsons: Kyle, Cole, Cameron and Brady.
And, as InDepthNH.org begins its Elegies of Joy, I invite you, dear readers, to see the faces and hear the stories behind those lost to Covid 19.
And I invite you to remember what Marie said to me as we talked of Ray.
“These people count – they are not numbers.”
I hope you’ll see Ray as much more than a number, as much more than simply a victim of a pandemic.
He was a guy who forgot to put his pants on on a warm June day, a guy so much more than a number. Ray Kohler counts.
Ray died May 7, 2020. His obituary is here: https://lambertfuneralhome.tributes.com/obituary/show/Raymond-G.-Kohler-108484346
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Susan Dromey Heeter plans to tell the stories of all the people New Hampshire has lost to COVID-19. Please contact Susan via firstname.lastname@example.org to share the story of someone you loved and lost.