Today I am 93 Years Young!

By | April 14, 2022

I was born in Eitel Hospital in Loring Park and now I live in the Kenwood – less than a mile away, not far in 93 years. But I doubt that anyone has ever seen and done more in every day, hour, minute and second.

My hero, Don Quixote, and I are tilting at windmills every waking hour and forever chasing “The Impossible Dream.” The dream is not in Spain or Mexico or Hawaii, or Canada or etc. I’ve been there! The Impossible Dream is every day – in what I do and what I’ve done! It surrounds my family, my friends, my colleagues and my dogs. Every day is, and has been, a gift that I cherish – whether I deserve it or not. I try to cram each day and every minute (I don’t sleep much – 11:30PM to 5AM) with friends and experiences that will make our lives full of fun but at the same time, safer, more beautiful, and more meaningful for each and everyone of us on this planet.

So far I’ve been busy! The following is an abbreviated version! (Enough to fill a book but I’ve already written my one and only book)

I’ve done a lot! I was primarily responsible for –

  • Being the second person walking on water – on Cedar Lake
  • Building Greenway Gables – the first owner occupied housing downtown and being the first homeowner – now 50,000 +
  • Walking the Kemps Holstein Cow across the Hennepin and Lake intersection
  • Buying the Sears Building on Lake Street, preventing it being demolished and preserving the site for the Midtown Exchange
  • Sitting in the electric chair in San Quentin Prison. They had the opportunity to turn it on – to prevent all of my future intentional mischievous activities
  • Creating a successful urban middle school
  • Playing frisbee on the Santa Cruz Beach with a pie tin made by the Frisbee Tin Co. – starting the frisbee craze in the 1940s
  • Identifying the site and providing property for Orchestra Hall
  • Breaking most of the bones in my body (some repaired)
  • Creating the World’s Best Off-Leash Dog Park
  • Regularly pulling trolleys on streetcars – rendering them immobile – followed by rotten tomato bombs
  • Creating Calhoun Square and Uptown – 5 years to achieve the impossible!
  • Dressing up multiple family members in Gorilla suits with bananas to meet son Dan and his to-be wife at the MSP Airport.
  • Developing Douglas School and MT Curve Townhomes on Lowry Hill
  • Placing quacking ducks in bridal suite of a fancy Kansas City hotel for my former friend and college roommate
  • Buying my beautiful, dark-wood interior home at 4339 Fremont Ave S. – by sealed bid followed years later by a fire that totally gutted the interior – followed by a contemporary all-white renovation
  • Being the local fashion icon and owning (still) a spectacular green hat and green ensemble
  • Being called and being a “skulker” as I acquired properties for major corporations
  • Helping Lowry Hill group move the Berger Fountain in order to make the Sculpture Garden a reality
  • Frequenting my favorite two restaurants, Manny’s on 9th and Marquette and White Castle on Lake Street
  • Organizing and leading Community housing/Sholom Alliance Senior Housing and Service Facility and starting Meals on Wheels in the 1970s

Yes, I accomplished a lot and admitted to some!

As I look back, and forward, my family, friends and colleagues have made my journey worthwhile! Great people of all colors and backgrounds have all helped fit my life’s puzzle together. To them, I am thankful! Some of the names you know and of their exploits –

  • Harry Davis – my friend and favorite social justice champion
  • John Pillsbury and Ken Dayton – who cared more about the community than their money and themselves
  • Judson (Sandy) Bemis – the link between the world of business and the world needing help
  • Barbara Flanagan – the wonderful community gadfly – caring mightily for her city
  • Mayor Don Fraser – thoughtful and 100% non partisan
  • Ted Mann – the entertainment impressario who never slept
  • George Latimer – the great Mayor of our sister city

and some not familiar names but oh so important –

  • My favorite Attorney – Sightless Amos Deinard
  • My favorite Architects
    • Randall Bradley – North MPLS Anti Poverty Champion
    • Lew Moran – great mind and taken too soon
    • Dick Gilyard – a true visionary and my favorite sounding board
    • Nick Koch – knows everyone and cares for all
  • My favorite city employees
    • Tommy Thompson – City Coordinator extraordinaire
    • Mike Monahan – Traffic guru and problem solver
  • My favorite Republican – Rudy Boschwitz – Mr. Plywood MN and senator Rudy
  • Memorable Friends
    • Brenda Ueland – Barbara Flanagan’s Predecessor
    • Tony Mastrey – early Cedar Ave pizza provider
    • Barbara Carlson, Jens Christenson, Sally Howard, and Lew DeMars – City Council Notables
    • Hallie Cowan – Cedar Riverside Madam who sold her business and real estate to me.
    • Phil Roberts – World’s number one food “Maven”
  • John B. Davis – MPLS School Superintendent – articulate and cared for everyone
  • My Business Partners – Astute, tough, patient with me
    • Bill Fine
    • Doug Head
    • Norman Ackerberg
    • David Jasper

And especially my family – all of them. Artists, ball players, teachers, travelers, Mothers, Fathers – who tolerate me, and care for me.

And lastly, but not leastly – My sixteen dogs – they make life worthwhile!

Thank you all – the trip so far, continues!

3 thoughts on “Today I am 93 Years Young!

  1. Nick Koch

    Ray, that was beautiful and inspiring. Touching and moving. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU and PROUD TO KNOW YOU.
    Please don’t blush, but YOU are a latter-day Don Quixote. And if I can qualify to be among your legions of Sanchos, that would be great. 🙂
    Your friend and co-conspirator, Nick

  2. Dave Zeman

    Congratulations Ray!
    I think of you often as i try to figure out this retirement gig.

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