By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
It has been a year since lifelong resident, business owner, family man and all-around town supporter Ray Schneider passed away. Ray was diagnosed with cancer and the entire town, friends and family rallied behind him and lent their support to his wife, Lu, and sons Jud and Tyler.
“From the very start, from Ray’s diagnosis and throughout his battle with cancer, to his passing and even still, our family has experienced an overwhelming amount of support from the community,” offered Lu, Tyler and Jud.
Wanting to keep Ray’s memory and spirit alive, a group of good friends, family and classmates came together to establish the Raymond G. Schneider Living Endowment for Youth scholarship program.
“This group is made up of Ray’s closest friends and even some family,” said Lu. “This group, is keeping Ray’s memory alive, both through the endowment and by gathering and remembering Ray.”
One of the members of the core group of organizers, Ben Bruggeman recalled the first time he met Ray Schneider. Bruggeman said he was new to Monticello and went to Monti Barber Center to get a haircut. Ray introduced himself to Bruggeman, as well as others in the shop that day. Bruggeman said he felt welcomed into the Monticello community.
This endowment is a way to remember “an iconic individual of this community.”
Ray Schneider was one of the biggest supporters of youth in this town. His boys were both in Scouts and earned their Eagle Award. He helped get youth involved in such programs as Scouts, sports and school-related activities.
His wife and sons said Ray was a huge supporter of Monticello by buying locally, and being involved in the community in many ways through Scouts and sporting events.
“This foundation allows Ray to continue to help our community without physically being here with us,” offered Lu.
“His entire personality revolved around what he could do for others, how he could help, how he could encourage,” said the group of guys organizing the endowment. “The tragedy of Ray’s illness was not only that it took our friend, but it also took a vibrant, vocal supporter of our community’s youth. An endowment in Ray’s name seemed to be a fitting way to remember him.”
Through local fundraising efforts and donations of any amount, the group plans to give two scholarships a year to seniors at Monticello High School. This year, two $250 scholarships will be presented. The awards are expected to increase as funds allow. Any graduating senior is eligible to apply for the scholarship, as long as they plan to attend a post-secondary educational program. Award recipients will be chosen based on the following criteria: character, academics, community involvement and extra-curricular activities. Visit the website for more information.
The group is accepting contributions from individuals as well as corporate donations. Any gift is eligible for state credit. Any contributions can be made by going to the endowment website
To increase funds, the group is working on hosting a 5K walk-run event throughout Monticello. The idea is to have participants run/walk past various locations in town associated with Ray Schneider: the barber shop, the schools, Sacred Heart Church, etc. they are looking at hosting the event around May 16, Ray’s birthday.
A golf outing is also in the planning stages.
“Ray was a friend to essentially everyone he met,” offered the group. “Because he was taken from us far too soon, many, many people will never have a chance to meet him, or get to know him. The endowment and the grants it will provide will be a consistent reminder to the community of the person Ray was, and the works he enabled. Helping people remember and appreciate who Ray was and what he did was central to this project.”
“Ray had a very vibrant personality,” his family recalled, “and everything he did, he thought of his family and his community. He always took the opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face whenever he could, but he still had the old-fashioned sense of values about him. That’s the memory we want to preserve.”