Meet Calvary VIPs: Ray Schramm

May 20, 2022

What a joy to visit the Calvary VIPs. They are Very Inspiring People - and are "Home Centered." VIPs are those who are unable to get to church regularly, or have a chronic illness or are in a care facility OR those who have reached their 90's.  Ray Schramm fits only the last prerequisite. Ray is 95.  Early in my work with VIPs, I tried phoning Ray.  Failing in that, I stopped by his home.  He was not there.   Finally, one day in the late afternoon I found him home.  He told me he no doubt had been still at work or maybe training for the BOLDERBoulder.  Yep, into his 90s and still at work or running. Pretty Amazing, this Ray Schramm.  Ray grew up in a large family on a large farm.  It taught him a great work ethic, resilience and a good deal more.
   Ray was born May 2, 1927 in Grand County, North Dakota.   His parents had immigrated  to the USA in 1905 from Bessarabia (region in Moldova), both of German origin.  Jacob, Ray's father, was 21, Maria his mother was 15. They came separately, but like many German immigrants, they settled in North Dakota, where land was available through the Homestead Act.  The initial homestead in 1905 was 160 acres.
  Jacob and Maria married in 1906.  Their first year of marriage on the homestead was spent living in a dug-out, a hole dug in the ground with wood planks providing shelter from snow and rain.  Quite the honeymoon.  By the time Ray was born in 1927, he was the 10th child in a family that would number 13 children.  The farm was then 1800 acres with pasture for 60 head of cattle, 40 horses, poultry and other animals.
   Growing up, the children milked the cows, separated the cream from the milk for use by the family and also to sell.  Money from the sale of cream was used for groceries and clothing.  Ninety percent of what was eaten by the family had been raised on the farm.  Ray's Dad filled up a 50 gallon vat with homemade sausage and lard so they could live well through the winter. Ray spoke enthusiastically about how well fed they were.  Groceries were purchased on Saturday. Sunday was for church.
   The highlight of the year was Christmas Eve when Ray's Dad drove a homemade horse-drawn sled, filled with the kids, through the snow for 3 1/4 miles to church.  Each of the kids received the biggest treat of the year that night: a bag of apples, oranges, peanuts and walnuts.
   To accommodate the large family, they enlarged their home and included an important music room. Every child had an instrument and playing music was the only excuse acceptable for not working in the fields.  With that incentive, some did well, and others did OK.  Ray took piano lessons and says he did OK.  Jacob Schramm loved music and instilled that love into his children.  The family gathered at night in the music room to sing together. Music was woven into their life as was the German language, which Ray learned to speak fluently.
   The family and the farm did well until The Great Depression.  The economy suffocated all farm commodities: cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys had little value. 1930 through 1939 were difficult years. At one point they butchered and cleaned 60 turkeys and took them to town to get $1 each.
   Sadly, in 1937 Ray's father was diagnosed with cancer and he died in 1939.  Ray was 12.  Then came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and two brothers went to war.  
   The death of Ray's father meant Ray had to learn to navigate adversity and loss; it also meant an increase in his work load and the learning of new skills.  At school, as the years went by, sports which Ray loved provided a diversion. As a teen he played football, usually quarterback.  In basketball he was the top scorer.  There was, however, tension for Ray during those days.  Some of the city boys thoughtlessly teased and took pot shots at the farm boys.  Ray had a temper that could be triggered and he was fully able to defend himself and often did.  Ray sensed, though, that his anger needed control.  The Baptist Church had 10 night revival meetings. Ray attended. Eventually, knowing the impact that baptism would have on his mother who had been baptized in 1941, Ray followed her into the waters of baptism in 1942 and baptism had an impact on Ray too.
   Ray knew his behavior did not always represent who he wanted to be.  He knew without an ounce of hesitation that he wanted to be more like Jesus.  He gained control over anger and found he could avoid situations that were not healthy and good.  His parents had a high standard and he wanted to live up to it.
   Needing help, Ray's mother asked her brother to come to the farm.  It was then that Ray's sister Hilda suggested that Ray go to the University of North Dakota.  He did and became chef at the Commons which fed the 1900 students.  During college he served in the National Guard and ROTC. The summer before graduation in l951 was spent at Lowry Air Force Base.  From 1951-54 he served at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.  Civilian life returned in 1954 as Ray moved to Williston, North Dakota, where he worked in the oil and gas industry, in which he works today.
    The job meant moves.  It was in Colorado that he found a school teacher, who was a good listener and also a rodeo queen, to spend his life with. Nancy, had been crowned queen at the Logan County Fair in l954.
   Ray and Nancy married in 1958 and moved 6 times in 5 years. They landed in Denver in 1963 when Nancy was pregnant.  Their home at 3318 S. Dayton Ct., was one of two houses on the prairie.  Ray still lives there.  Ray joined Calvary the first year the current building, just down the road, opened in 1966.
   In l968, Ray and an ex-marine started an oil field service company. Allen & Schramm, Inc,  prepares pipe, equipment and supplies for oil well machinery.  Ray is still at it.
   Ray and Nancy's son J.B. was born on August 30, 1963.  J.B.  grew up at Calvary and was active and a leader in youth programs and a graduate of East High School before going on to great success at Yale and then Harvard.  In 1992, J.B. married Lauren Goodyear with Larry Loughhead co-officiating.
   J.B. was the founder of an amazing Nonprofit, Peer Forward, which works with youth throughout the country supporting their efforts for schooling after high school.  J.B. and Lauren  are the parents of Ray's three grandchildren: Jake, Luke and Rosie. 
   Sadly, Nancy Schramm died three months short of their 50th anniversary.  Nancy taught until 1985.  The Schramms loved traveling and visited all continents. Nancy's favorite was sailing the Nile; Ray's favorite was Vienna.
   Ray maintained his interest in sports. Playing handball, golf, and the last 12 years running the BOLDERBoulder which he plans for this year. He won his age group each year.  Of course the competition does thin out each year.  He has been a season ticket holder for the Broncos since 1960.
   Ray is so proud of his family and what a significant legacy he daily shapes for them:  a strong work ethic yes, resilience yes, but so much more. Ray learned well how to navigate loss and adversity. He learned skills on the farm he could use for life.  In a large family he learned how to work with and care for others.  He discovered faith and its transforming power.  He models loyalty, support and faithfulness to church.  He speaks of Calvary as a church that has a door always open to those in need and he says it's a place you can always recover from your mistakes.  Most of all, from his parents and family,  Ray learned how to receive and give love.  His ready gentle smile speaks of a life well and gratefully lived.
-Reverend Mary Hulst, Coordinator of VIP Ministry