Sad news hit the C.K. McClatchy community of latter years on May 7 with the passing of long-time metal shop teacher, Ray Allinger, who many described as a good-natured, happy individual who enjoyed his retirement with a zest of life and adventure.
Preceded in death by his first wife Mary and his brother Doug, Ray is survived by his wife Bonnie, son Chris (Patti), daughter Carla (Jason), brother Grant, grandsons Joshua, Lauren, Nathaniel, Luke, Nicholas, Alexander and Matthew.
Richard, as his family called him, was born in Berkeley on May 20, 1931, and spent a great deal of time when he was young with his beloved cousins, hunting in the fields and mountains and fishing in the creeks of Butte County. He fondly remembered going to the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island. While he was only 8 years old, he was allowed to go unsupervised with friends, just as young as he was with only 50 cents in his pockets, 10 cents for the train to get there and back and 40 cents to spend on food or whatever he wanted.
He proudly earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1947 with six other friends in Troop 24. Ray graduated from Berkeley High School in 1950 and Chico State University in 1957. With the generous help of friends and his brother Doug, Ray built an adobe brick house with a red tile roof on 10 acres in Wilton in 1967 and lived there until his death.
One June 1, hundreds of former students, friends and family gathered at Ray’s adobe home for his celebration of life service.
Ray’s wife, Bonnie, spoke with Valley Community Newspapers about the ceremony and about her and her late-husband’s many years together.
“It was a gratifying (turnout at the ceremony),” Bonnie said. “(Ray) had a huge diversity of interests we were involved in. He was a very, very wonderful, giving person in that he was always willing to help people,” she said.
Sadly, Bonnie explained that while over the last eight to 10 years, Ray suffered from many different health issues, involving various kinds of operations, he continued to persevere with a hopeful attitude. “We had many, many years of happy times. We were together for 28 years. It was a nice, wonderful relationship. As he started going downhill, we had to alter our lives, but he still remained happy and he did a good job with that. In the latter years, he was in quite a bit of pain. We have to look at the fact he’s gone but that he’s not in any more pain. He was very positive in his approach of getting over stuff and trying to get back to a normal life where he could still work in his shop and do his iron work and participate in his social activities he enjoyed. He was a happy person.”
Recalling how they met, Bonnie explained it all happened in “1986 or 1987” during an educational trip to visit a vocational school in Arizona.
“Three of us went down there from the Sacramento area. I had seen him in other vocational department affairs. He and the other industrial education teacher were both really nice guys. We had a lot of fun. We learned a lot. We discovered we enjoyed similar interests. That was the beginning. But, we all came back to our regular jobs and came back to work. We didn’t get married until 1992. We just meshed beautifully. We enjoyed each other. He had a lot of diverse interests. I enjoyed them. He enjoyed mine. He was a friendly person. He enjoyed people. He loved kids. He was good at relating with students,” Bonnie said.
During his teaching career, Ray taught at Stanford Jr. High School, part time at Sacramento City College and metal shop at C.K. McClatchy High School until his retirement. Ray was an active member of the Wilton community. He and Mary took square dancing lessons at the Alta Mesa Community Center and he thoroughly enjoyed being the auctioneer at the annual Box Social dinner. He was also very active in the Wilton 4-H Club. Ray took great pleasure in being Master of Ceremonies and planning and participating in evening entertainment at the annual Alta Mesa Fair. Many Wilton kids will remember sitting on the floor in his house stamping, carving, stitching and dying their various leather projects in the leather craft class he taught in 4-H. Ray also made a hand-engraved wood sign for each child that showed an animal at the County Fair. Each sign had the children’s name on top and their show animals’ names below, attached with two chains, to be hung outside the pen or stall. In addition to 4-H, Ray was a valued member of the Western Festival Committee and an active member of the Elk Grove Optimists. Ray loved the Alta Mesa Gun Club. He helped organize and also participated in the shoots, and he held the positions of treasurer and president over his many years of involvement. Ray and Bonnie also enjoyed jazz and assisted for many years for the setup of the jazz festival in Old Sacramento.
Ray loved to fish. Family vacations often revolved around locations with a lake or creek that he could put a line in. These included places like Butte Meadows where his Aunt Grace had a cabin, Weed to visit Father Mellow and Jackson Meadows with Wilton friends.
Several years after his first wife Mary passed away, Ray met Bonnie and began a second, happy chapter in his life. They enjoyed being a part of a dinner group and traveling to their their travel trailer (and later their motor home) and overseas. He also loved the fishing trips he took to Alaska and Mexico. After retirement, Ray continued to work with ornamental iron, creating beautiful railings and gates for the custom brick homes his brother Doug built as well as for the homes of many neighbors and friends. In later years, his iron work drifted to creating bells from oxygen tanks, each one with a unique hanging attachment. He sold some of the bells and also enjoyed donating one each year for the Optimist crab feed.
In the late 1970s, Ray’s close cousin Fred introduced him to diving for abalone in Fort Bragg and he was hooked. This was the beginning of many cherished family trips to the coast. Ray loved diving, spearing fish and just sitting around camp visiting, and the evening sing-alongs where he would play his banjo. Throughout the years, additional family and friends would come along and soon become part of the annual group.
Retired McClatchy teacher and counselor Jim Coombs said Ray was one of his favorite teachers to work with. “We had lots of laughs together. He was truly one of the best educators I met in my 38 years as a teacher/counselor, definitely in my top 10. He was so good with the kids and made a major impact on many hundreds of lives. I never saw him give up on a kid, no matter how big an asshole the kid was. Today our schools miss the likes of Ray and Chuck Warner (print shop teacher) who gave those non-academic kids a chance to succeed.”
Jim shared two quick stories that came to mind in regard to Ray.
As the Vietnamese immigrants became more integrated into school life, Jim would call them in and ask them if they would like an American first name to go by, which would end up on their transcripts.
Jim did this for many kids and it became a joke around the lunchroom. But one day, Ray sends this poor kid who is not Jim’s counselee in with a sealed note. The incident is still clear as crystal in Jim’s memory. “The kid stands there while I read (the note). In huge letters Ray has written his name: FU KING YU. In quotes, he says, ‘NEEDS A NAME CHANGE.’ I asked the boy about doing this and his response was ‘FU KING YU is bad name.’ So in less than one minute, FU KING YU became KENNY YU and life was much better for him thanks to Ray. From then on, I was Kenny’s counselor whenever he had a problem even though I wasn’t his counselor.”
The other story had to do with Ceila “BOOM BOOM” Boomhower, who was Ray’s sixth period teacher’s assistant. “BOOM BOOM was pretty accurate in describing her and all of the boys loved having Ceila in sixth period as she never wore a bra, and, boy were they big,” recalled Coombs.
“(Celia’s) fifth period teacher was an old biddy who still lived in the 1930s and every day she would send Ceila out of fifth period with a note that said, ‘Needs a bra.’ She wanted Ceila suspended for violating the dress code. After this had happened about five times, Ceila and I made a deal that would get me fired today. Ceila brought in a bra and put it in a drawer in the back of the guidance clinic. After 4th period she would pop in and put on her bra. After fifth period, she would pop back in again and take it off for Ray and the sixth period class. Ray and I had many laughs over Ceila and the bra story.”
Joking aside, Ray clearly made a difference in many students’ lives.
Starting high school averaging C and D grades, one of Ray’s former students, Kerry McColloch, said things turned around because of his metal shop teacher. “(Ray) was the dad I never had. That’s saying it mildly,” Kerry said. “He set me on a path that straightened me out. Ray had a knack and ability to get through hard-headed, dumb kids our age when we thought we knew everything. He put the fear of God in you. He had a way to teach you without you knowing it.”
While Kerry excelled in metal shop and continued his studies in college, he followed his then-new-found dream of opening a RV trailer repair and storage business (McColloch’s Rv Repair & Storage, 2420 Harvard St.) and hasn’t looked back. That motivation and courage to start the business on his own volition, Kerry said, was inspired by Ray. “It’s a good feeling to have. I put my two kids through college. And this all goes back to Ray. Three years ago, I told him all of this and it made him cry.”
Bob Sertich, a college-bound 1967 McClatchy graduate, said Ray was his class’s sponsor. “I was a class officer and Ray would always encourage us to do stuff we didn’t think we could do. I remember him saying, ‘Bob, you can do this.’ He was really positive and encouraging. I had lost my dad a few years before I started at McClatchy. There were male teachers and the principal who took care of me. There weren’t that many people who didn’t have a father. It’s not like today with divorces. (Ray) was one of the males who filled the void.”
As Jim Coombs stated: “Even as his health began to fail in recent years, Ray kept an optimistic attitude and stayed as active as his health would allow. Ray will be remembered for his positive outgoing personality, his willingness to help a friend, soup parties, tool loan cards, horseshoes, his beautiful iron work and his love of playing the banjo and ukulele. In addition to his family, Ray leaves behind many dear friends from Wilton, people he met during his teaching years and from traveling and the industrial education guys he befriended.”