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Remembering Ray

Tribute to founding Board member
Ray Van de Water (1920 - 2006)

Ray & Flo
Ray & Flo

Who is this [old] man, I thought to myself when we first met;
On some strenuous hike or other, as he forged ahead of us all,
Breathing easily, up hill and down, while taking in all the beauty of the hike.
His stamina is amazing.

How patient he is, I said to myself as he unfolded his long limbs
From the back seat of our [small] extended cab Toyota,
Having endured an hour of hot dusty roads, trying to
Find our way out of someone's huge acreage in the middle of nowhere.
And he is still smiling.

What a kind and thoughtful man you are, I said to him,
As he presented me with a very precious book to keep -
"Gualala, The Water Coming Down Place"
Yes, it was an extra copy, but still...
And yes, it has been reissued, but still...
That book is all the more valuable for its presenter.

What a loving and gentle man this is, I marvelled
When Flo became less mobile and withdrew more and more into her private world.
I never saw a cross word, and watched in wonder as he had the old bathtub torn out,
And replaced by a newer model
Just to make Flo's life easier and more comfortable

His mind is still sharp and clear I mused as we discussed contemporary politics
And the environmental horrors that have occured and continue to violate our planet earth.
He would have loved this last election
And would have gone out to vote, too.

He is amazing I confided to others, while he explained in detail -
The Coastal Conservancy, the Coastal Commission, The Land Trust Association, The Building and Planning Department, CalTrans, engineered trail and cable steps drawings, and
What it all had to do with building a little trail for beach access

Now there is the home of one who knows nature intimately
I thought when I visited he and Flo in their home -
A home filled with memories of a much loved family and fulfilled life
In a setting that never intruded or overwhelmed,
But rooted, like the man, and became one with its surroundings.

And there was a man whom we will all greatly miss -
A model for how to live in harmony with the earth and its current inhabitants
Fighting to keep the wonder of it all from disappearing;
Where age is no handicap,
But instead a melting pot of wisdom accumulated over the years.

He was here but a relatively short time,
But shall remain here forever

Irene Leidner
November, 2006

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 1511
Gualala, CA 95445
Phone: (707) 884-4426