Ray R. Hastings 1920 – 2010 Lest we Forget

 

My Father, Ray R. Hastings, went to Heaven on December 26th. He spent ninety years on this earth and his life impacted thousands of people.

Grandpa18aDad was, in the words of one of his best friends, unique. He began his life in Kansas. I remember stories from my Grandmother and his aunt about how tiny he was and that they had to keep him alive and warm by putting him in the oven. A unique way to begin.

Dad started working at nine. He was a gandy dancer for the railroad, digging ditches and working twelve to fourteen hour days. This experience did two things for him. It gave him an incredible work ethic, plus it started his fifty-year smoking habit. You see, the only break from hard work he got was a smoke break, so why not. He quit smoking, cold turkey, at sixty. He was unique.

Dad was a star athlete in High School. He excelled in football, track and wrestling. He was fast, sure footed and strong. I remember when I was ten or eleven racing him about 200 yards. He whipped my tail. He was the strongest man I ever knew and always could turn a screw one or two more times than I could. Nobody in thier right mind would arm wrestle with him. I never saw him lose, even to younger men.

He was a patriot. He joined the National Guard at eighteen and eventually, on a tip from his father, wound up in the Army Air Corps (Dad hated the term Air Force). He was a Tech Sergeant responsible for the lead plane in his company, the 83rd bomb group. He was proud of his country and his war service took him around the world supporting ground troups with B-25 raids. A pilot from his group told me, “Everyone wanted to fly on Ray’s plane. They knew it would be perfect.”

Dad left the army in 1945 and married my mother. They have a legacy of sixty-five years of marriage. Near the same time, he found his career and spent almost fifty years doing what he loved to do.

Two stories galvanize my dad to my mind and heart:

The first was when I was about ten. We were in the desert town of Barstow, CA and Dad needed some critical information about a piece of property. He found the person with whom he needed to talk at his home. Dad parked our car across the street and went to the house. It seemed like two hours later he came back. His clothes were filthy (he always wore a tie, dress slacks and a coat). When my mother asked what he was doing, he told us that the man was working on his car and Dad helped him change the oil. He got the information he needed, made a friend and helped a person in need. That was my unique Dad. He enjoyed people and especially helping them.

The second was when I was fifteen. I was working in his office when a senior city official came to visit. It wasn’t five minutes into the meeting when I heard loud voices and saw my Dad, one hand on the visiting man’s collar and the other holding him up by back of the belt. Dad literally threw the man bodily out of his office. I heard the stunned visitor say, “You’ll never work in this town again!” It seems the official asked my Dad to falsify some documents and as a payback, he’d be rewarded some prime contracts. My Dad had tremendous honesty and integrity. He’d never do it. Truth is, after this event, my Father had so much work outside of our town, he couldn’t do it all without help.

Dad was unique, hard working, honest, happily married and a story teller. He’s probably fishing someplace in heaven, or telling stories to someone. He left us an incredible legacy. He’s pain free and I can’t wait to see him again.

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10 Responses to “Ray R. Hastings 1920 – 2010 Lest we Forget”

  1. Dana says:

    Wow! What an incredibly beautiful tribute to your father. So very sorry for your loss, but celebrating with you the wonderful gift your dad was to you.

  2. Wayne, I love this and would have loved to know your Dad. I think the most powerful legacies are left by the people who simply were loving and kind at their core.
    You are a good son to notice the spirit of your dad in such a profound way. Such things are often lost on those who honor more fading qualities.
    His patriotism, pursuit of excellence in his craft, and his commitment to your mom are nearly extinct character traits in today’s world. Thank you for reminding us of the things that truly make a person’s life great.
    It’s a wonderful thing that so many continue to be blessed by Ray’s life because we know you.
    God bless you and your family in your healing as heaven holds and celebrates another saint.

  3. Thanks so much Toni. He left a solid legacy and is at peace. Were grateful.
    Wayne Hastings
    The Wayne Hastings Company, LLC

  4. Thanks, Dana, I appreciate your kind comments.
    Wayne Hastings
    The Wayne Hastings Company, LLC

  5. Very nicely done Wayne. If I were a betting man I’d guess that our dads are involved in some pretty competitive cribbage games about now!
    I will always remember your dad and mom’s kindness to me during my time in San Diego and during visits to the area during my post-military working career. Thanks for sharing.
    Mike

  6. Ha, you better believe that are with Grandma playing winner!
    Sent from my iPad

  7. Dave Castle says:

    reat story Wayne! Bill and I have shared some great stories about our Uncle Ray over the years. When we were little we always felt a need to be on our best behavior, but I’ll never forget his smile and ‘kidding’ nature. As we got older we realized what a really cool dude he was. One more thing… during my young adult years I had a knack for arm wrestling and only remember losing to one man. Yep! every single time too. Love ya cuz!

  8. Thanks, Dave.
    Sent from my iPad

  9. A wonderful tribute to your father, Wayne. I’m sorry for your loss and I trust your dad will save you a place beside him at his favorite fishing hole in heaven. I’m sure he’ll have some amazing new stories to share. :-)

  10. Thanks for your kind words, Mindy..
    Wayne Hastings
    The Wayne Hastings Company, LLC

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