This is my healing journal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sherry Raynor

Sherry Raynor
Born 8-18-1930
Died 12-10-2007

Sherry Raynor was born Sherry Diane Nevins on August 18, 1930 to James Cyril Nevins and Ebba Ebbesen Nevins. She grew up in the Depression in the Upper Peninsula. She was the granddaughter of emigrants from Sweden and Norway on her mother’s side and was of Irish descent on her father’s side. She is the older sister of Christine Nevins Ronan.

When she was in her high school years, Sherry and her family moved to South Haven, Michigan. She was their Peach Queen and she graduated from high school in 1948.

In 1949, she met and married Robert Storrer and they settled in Owosso, Michigan. They had three children: Robert, Christine and Sandra.

She met my father Louis Raynor, when she was studying art classes at Michigan State University, where he was a professor in ceramics. In 1959, she married Dad and they had three children: Ebba, Nels and Beatrice. They settled in Okemos.

When I was born, the family had to make significant adjustments, since I was born without eyes. Mom was tireless in looking for services to help me cope. But, she also encouraged the rest of the family and herself to let me live a nearly normal life. Often were the times when I would help with cake baking, picking out vegetables and other things in the kitchen, just so I could learn.

Mom received a degree in education when I was little, and went to work for Ingham Intermediate School district, first as a homebound teacher, and later to head up its pre-school program for the blind in 1971, on the campus of Michigan School for the Blind. She continued as its director until 1979. In the fall of that year, she moved to the Perkins Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts to continue her work until she resigned in 1983, so that she could devote more time to her own private non-profit organization, the International Institute for Visually Impaired.

In 1979, Mom, along with a small group of friends, started the International Institute for the Visually Impaired, Inc., which later became the Blind Children’s Fund. This was an institute that provided information for parents to help their pre-school blind children to function independently as much as possible in a world where they could not see. This meant that Mom would have to start traveling in earnest to gather what information she could and so that she could participate in studies going on. She published two books for parents and teachers called “Get a Wiggle On” and “Move It”. I believe these were the first two books available in Braille for parents and teachers who were blind who had pre-schoolers. The International Institute for Visually Impaired changed its name to Blind Children’s Fund in the late 90’s.

Mom loved being there for her children. I remember her always trying to make the time to attend our Christmas programs at school and church, track meets and football games, plays, band, orchestra and choir concerts and art shows. Even when we were grown and moved away, Mom still would come to anything we were doing if she had the time.

Mom loved Art. She loved making pewter jewelry, benches with small ceramic tiles on them and small clay owls. However, she excelled in pottery after retiring from the Blind Children’s Fund in 2001.

Mom loved to travel. She made several excursions to Mexico where she studied Spanish and began collecting masks. She’s also been to Russia, Israel, Denmark, England, Germany and Australia, just to name a few places, due to her work. She was planning on going to Vietnam this year.

Most of all, Mom loved getting away from life whenever she had a chance. She often would go visit my father until his passing in 1999 in the small town of Leland, where he retired. Often, she could be seen working on art, collecting stones, walking, cooking for Dad and herself, and basically thinking.

Mom was preceded in death by her parents, both her former husbands, various aunts, uncles and cousins. She is survived by her sister Christine, all her children, two stepsons Raymond and Fletcher, eight grand children and eight great-grandchildren.


  • At December 11, 2007 at 5:35 PM , Blogger Tom C said...

    Know that my thoughts are with you and your family.
    In time comes peace.

  • At December 11, 2007 at 6:26 PM , Anonymous the boomer said...

    Hi, Beatrice:

    That was a wonderful obituary on your mother! I doubt anyone could have written a better one than you did! It took a lot of thought, a lot of love, and certainly, a lot of care! May I once again offer my sincerest eartfelt condolences on her passing, and pray that God will watch over you and grant you His perfect peace, and His strength. My prayers continue to be with you.

  • At December 11, 2007 at 8:51 PM , Blogger Suzanne R said...

    What a lovely tribute to your mother! She was a remarkable person. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you. You are remarkable, too.

  • At December 11, 2007 at 9:45 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    I received the following from our cousin Jacquie, and thought it was appropriate for me to put here, speeling errors and all.

    cousins Dear Beatrice and Burt: 

    I am so sorry to hear about the death of your mother.  Cousin Teen called me this morning to tell me.  She is in God's hands now and enjoying a lovely chat
    with Mary Alice and Glenn Scott.  I know how hard these past few weeks have been for you and I pray that your memories of your mother will outshine the
    bad momemts.  I remember how gracious she was with Glenn and Ethel, coming to Mary Alice's funeral this past May and not coming or able to come to Glenn's
    this Fall.

    This Sunday I almost raised my hand in Church and asked for prayers for Sherry that God would find a place for her alongside the relatives.  I know that
    Sherry I think went to our church in South Haven for a time and was closer to Mary Alice.  I remember when Sherry came here for a night or two and we entertained
    her friends.  I loved her spirit, her sense of humor, her humanitarian work, and her concern for you always.  Give my love to your siblings in this time
    of rememberences and grieving.

    I am unable to attend the service next week as our business does not warrant me to come. Please save me a bulletin and any eulogies so that I can remember
    her as well. 

    Love to you all: 

    Jacqui and (Glenn) - I know he would have been saddened but I am sure they are havings lots of fun and getting into trouble up above.


  • At December 11, 2007 at 9:54 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...


    You are a sweetheart! Thanks for posting my entry for me. I was right. I knew I would not have had the presence of mind to do it. Still reeling from a lot of stuff going on with family and some family friends, thatI really should not have to deal with right now. Your phonme message to me, and our subsequent conversation really helped. If I had know the internet would bring me back in contact with one who is more brother than friend... Appreciate you so much.

  • At December 12, 2007 at 8:24 AM , Anonymous ryan perdue said...

    Our prayers are with you, bert and family.
    That was an awesome obituary and you're mom did some remarkable things.Let us know should you need anything.

  • At December 12, 2007 at 5:14 PM , Blogger Tom C said...

    Bea. John left a note on my home again post for you, and as I've written something else I thought I'd pass it on here.
    John said " Beatrice: My sincerest of condolences on the loss of your Mother. I read your obituary and she clearly accomplished more than many of us could possibly imagine over two lifetimes!

    I know that the feelings of loss you are experiencing are difficult but any continuation of her physical discomfort would have been an unhappy consequence to what was obviously a full and rewarding life!

    Truely she was a remarkable woman and you were indeed fortunate to have been part of her life as much as she was to have had you in hers!
    John" | 12.12.07 - 7:26 pm | #

  • At December 12, 2007 at 7:59 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    Thanks, Ryan. That really means a lot. I know y'all would be there for anything, shouldI ever need it. Much appreciated.

    Lyn and Syzanne, I didn't mean to not comment on what you had to say last night. I'm still reeling from everyhtng going on around me.

    Tom, thanks for posting John's comment here. Appreciate your friendship, as I've already said. Strange, how the net actually helps us all to be a small family of sorts in times like these. I'll post my response to John's comment on your blog. However, I'm in total agreement with what he said. The prolonged physical discomfort she wentt through could have been prevented. Unfortunately, my sister and her partner didn't see it that way, though by putting her on life support, what they were doing was going against her wishes. But, I'll leave it at that. I don't want to add to the anger the rest of the family has felt at times about that. What good would it accomplish, especially since I just want all the anger to end? Let her rest in peace and try to concentrate on the good she has done in people's lives.

  • At December 12, 2007 at 10:18 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    I thought those of you who read my blog would appreciate this long, lovely letter here from singer/songwriter Joel Mabus.
    HI Beatrice

    I did just go to the blogspot. I'm so sorry for your loss, or should I say losses, considering the various and complicated relationships in your family
    that you hint at. But your mom's pain is done and gone. She did some remarkable things with her days on earth, as you write about in your remembrance.
    She made a difference in a lot of people's lives. Within your own family, things are a bit more complicated, as they always are in every family. There
    are old wounds that haven't healed, and old scars where the healing was tough. But I hope you are in a good place yourself, and by being in grace, can
    beckon others in your family to join you there too.

    I remember a folk music conference a few years ago where an award was given honoring the life and music of Woody Guthrie and Moe Asche, the man who championed
    Guthrie's early recordings on Folkways Records. Guthrie's youngest daughter was there to accept the award. After a long video tribute to the men, and
    many speeches of praise, Nora Guthrie accepted the award, saying, "I know you folks really loved my dad, and Moe Asche -- but you didn't have to live with
    these guys!" More than a little family dysfunction to go around, I guess.

    My mom died nearly 18 years ago, and I still miss her. But with time, the ill health of her last days have faded in my memory, and the quarrels and spats
    are in the background, just part of the mix. But what remains is the fact that we are our mother's children. Our first tender touch was her touch, and
    will always be so. Our parents lives become our yardsticks, by which we measure ourselves, both our shortcomings as well as our accomplishments. It is
    hard to envision our parents as the imperfect mortals they are, but that is the very signature of growing up -- to see our mom and dad as frail humans,
    and not the omniscient protectors that we once took them to be.

    So my thoughts are with you, Beatrice, and may smiles soften the tears in the coming weeks. The bleak midwinter will pass.

    With Affection,

    Joel Mabus

  • At December 13, 2007 at 7:32 AM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    The following two tributes were sent to a bunch of people all at once. I thought I would post them here for y’all to read. Both of these women I knew personally, as they both worked for Mom, when we lived in Massachusetts. The first one is from Julie Urban.

    I just wanted to add another tribute to our dear friend Sherry. I worked
    with Sherry when she began the preschool at Perkins, then the Infant program
    and IIVI, Inc. She was the driving force behind the first international
    preschool conferences as well as all the wonderful things she did for
    children who are blind throughout the world.

    She was there when I met my daughter for the first time, she was with
    us on adoption day, First Communion Day and many other ordinary days in our

    May her love of helping others continue in all of our lives as a living
    tribute to a wonderful mentor, friend and mother. As we keep her memory in
    our hearts, may we keep her family in our prayers.

    Rest in peace dear friend.

    Julie and Becca Urban

    This Next one is from Janie Kronheim.

    A day before Sherry passed away I had a very telling dream in which Sherry was present as I was presenting my guitar, to play for the children!!! This was
    one of the best memories of my time, working with Sherry at the preschool program at Perkins School for the Blind in 1979. I believe that she loved my
    guitar playing the best, especially for the little children and their parents. I shall always remember her in my heart!

    Sherry, I know you are now at peace in heavenly arms, comforted and cherished. You are always in my thoughts. Jane Kronheim

  • At December 13, 2007 at 7:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dear Bea,

    I did not realize what a remarkable Mother you had until I read the obituary. I wish I had known her. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Peggy H

  • At December 14, 2007 at 8:48 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    This is from another co-worker of Mom’s.

    Sherry impacted my life greatly, as well. I was a stay at home mom when she recruited me to work as a speech pathologist in the preschool house at Perkins.
    She encouraged me to bring my 2 children as role models. It was an experience that has had a lifelong impact on both of them. I also worked with Sherry
    in IIVI, inc. and as the parent coordinator of an outreach grant. A presentation as part of that grant brought me to where I am in my career today. I
    have thought of Sherry often and the impact she has made on families all over the world! Judi Simmons

  • At December 15, 2007 at 9:02 PM , Anonymous all4christ said...

    Oh, Beatrice! And to think thatWhat a marvellous life of humanitarian work your mother has led! It's onwderful to know that the inspiration for that work came from you, either directly or indirectly. She was a marvellous woman, for sure! You were the wind beneath her wings in all of the things she did, either for all of you in the family, or for all the causes she worked so tirelessly to aid! You were truly privileged to have such a mother! She was truly your angel!

  • At December 15, 2007 at 9:55 PM , Blogger Healing Song said...

    Thanks for that, Lynn. Sometimes, it really didn't feel like she was my angel. I think weboth took turns being each other's angels.

  • At December 16, 2007 at 3:14 PM , Anonymous Melissa D said...


    Our condolences to you and your family on the loss of your mom. I pray that the fragmented relationships you and your siblings have with one another will be restored. The obituary you wrote was truly honoring your mother.

    Melissa & Eric

  • At December 16, 2007 at 9:33 PM , Blogger Indigo Red said...

    Very lovely thoughts and memories of your mother. A truly remarkable woman she was. Now that I have read the organizations she helped to found, I can say I knew of her because I knew of the organizations. As you've said here in the comments, Bea, the internet does bring people and lives together.

    While we live, few of us understand, or would admit to, being anything but average folk. It is unfortunate that it is only after death that the true grandeur of our lives is revealed. I'm sure your mother thought she was only doing what a mother is supposed to do. But, she did so much more and very obviously she was so much more than what she did.

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