Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Member Spotlight: Ray Ericson

To acquaint our online friends with the folks who make up the Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association, this member spotlight will pop up here from time to time. Each entry will feature a bit about a member and what the organization means to them. We hope it will attract new members, compelled by the stories shared here. Don't be shy; just click the pie pic at right for a membership application. Sign up today!

We will start this series in an unusual way – focusing the spotlight on a dear, departed member of the BHOSA and the exrordinary gift given to our organization in his memory.
Ray the younger                            Ray the elder


Raymond “Ray” Lee Ericson, 73,
was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He died Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Ray lived a rich life, leaving lasting memories for everyone who knew him. Ray was an engineer and had everything planned out up to the end. He never lost his sense of humor and loved his family more than anything. Many of Ray’s Swedish ancestors lived in and around Bishop Hill and a memorial was established in Ray’s name. What follows was penned by the current BHOSA President, Randy Anderson. Below he describes the generous gift left to our organization in the name of his cousin, Ray Ericson:
When the Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association hears of the passing of a Colony descendant, it is like another death in the family.  In many ways it is just that, even if we do not know them personally, or even if we have never heard their name before their death, there is a connection when we hear they were a descendant of the Bishop Hill Colony.
The Old Settlers has always been about family.  Since the founding of the Old Settlers in 1896, fifty years after the founding of the religious commune of Swedish immigrants on a small hill on the prairie in west central Illinois, it has always been about family.  
The Ray Ericson family at his June 30th Memorial in the Colony School
When the Raymond Lee Ericson family contacted the Old Settlers with a desire to establish a memorial fund for a major project to honor Ray, it was decided a new roof for the Colony Schoolhouse would be a fitting tribute to the memory of their beloved husband, father and grandfather and head of their family.  Ray had expressed a desire to contribute memorial money to the Colony School to help maintain it for future generations because both his parents attended school there.  A new roof was much needed, and the family assured the Old Settlers it would happen and wanted it completed for the memorial/celebration of life to be held when the family would gather in Bishop Hill on June 30th.  The roof was completed a week early and under budget.  With the memorial donations from the Ericson family, the new roof for the Colony School was fully funded and the family was able to see the completed project when they arrived for the memorial/celebration of life in honor of Ray.  
Our new Schoolhouse roof - thanks to Ray Ericson's most thoughtful gift