Ray Leverton - Happy 90th Birthday

Posted by Jackie Bessner on

Ray with his 4 Great Grandchildren and 4 Grandchildren  

"If anyone could be described as an unwaveringly loyal volunteer and community member its longtime Ishpeming resident Ray Leverton" says Paul Bonetti fellow philanthropist. 

"A man of great faith, generosity, and character that everyone should aspire to be" says fellow volunteer Julie Solka.

Ray Leverton was born just in time for the Great Depression and grew up understanding the value of a dollar, of persistence, of community, and of family.  He is a Korean War veteran, he has 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. 

Ray was invited in September 2015 to participate in an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. commemorating his service to country.  He has always honored his commitments to family, church, alma mater, and his hometown, and his legacy of community service will be long remembered.

Ray spent thirty four and a half years as curator/manager of the National Ski Hall of America and Museum and helped to keep that institution a local treasure when others wanted to move it to another state.  Ray knew that Ishpeming was the birthplace of organized skiing and that many local athletes had made contributions to the sport on a national and international level.  History and hometown pride combined to give us the unique structure that introduces Ishpeming to the visitor.

Ray worked tirelessly to help fund that project and when he retired, the building had been paid for.  His work as a volunteer for the National Ski Hall of Fame and Museum has been recognized locally with a Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award in 1992, a Super Senior award from Bresnan Communications in 1998, a volunteer award from the Ski Hall in 2004 (now an annual event named in his honor, the Ray Leverton Volunteer Plaque); he traveled to Canada for  the W.R. “Bill” Schroeder Award by the International Association of Sports Museums and Halls of Fame in 2005, and was presented with an award from the Michigan Historical Society in 1998.

  
In 2012, Ray gave his time and attention to another local treasure, the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library.  His fundraising helped to fund new exterior ramps, allowing the disabled equal access to the building, an elevator, air conditioning, fifty six new windows, a twenty-foot custom display cabinet, a meeting room, two barrier-free restrooms and energy efficient lighting throughout the building.

Ray not only raised the nearly $600,000 needed, he also helped to identify these needs and facilitate their construction.  He’s left the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library a better place for the next century.  He did, as he always does, as much as he could for as long as he could, with what was available.  Ray was again honored by the local Chamber of Commerce with a Volunteer of the Year award in 2015, for his work with the Library.

After winding down the library project, Ray turned his attention to the needs of our local school district.  As a loyal IHS alum, he’s always looking for ways to help the next generation of Hematites.  Thanks to his efforts, the Ishpeming Stadium has been repainted and the press box has been remodeled.  He continues to work on a new concession building and and has many other projects lined up, including enlarging the high school campus area by helping acquire adjacent properties.

"Best Forward the Ishpeming Team ever had" describes one resident.  Although Ray did not actually wear the uniform and hit the courts, he has always been a team player with his ongoing support of our community and youth programs. 

"As he turns 90, Ray still feels there’s much to do and he plans to have a hand in all of it" says his son David. 

Happy 90th Birthday Ray!  We thank you for your service to both Country  and Community, and for being a true INSPIRATION to all of us!   

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 photos courtesy of the Ray Leverton family and friends.   

6 comments


  • Congratulations Mr. Leverton for all of your well deserved awards. Your contributions to the community are an amazing commitment to what really matters. Service. You are truly a member of The Greatest Generation.

    AnneJohnsonHeilmann on

  • I met Ray a long time ago, when I played in the Ishpeming City band with him. He was always cheerful and fun. Always a lot of laughs with you and Smith .Thank you, Ray, for all you have done for the Ishpeming Library, and all you have done to make Ishpeming a wonderful town.I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

    Diane Rowledge Brown September 3,2019

    Diane Rowledge Brown on

  • I have only known Ray for a couple of years. My loss for sure. I met Ray at the Negaunee Y. We took a the Enhance Fitness class together. I now am the instructor of this class. Ray is amazing. He inspires us all. He gives his full effort in doing whatever the class entails. He always has a hello, smile & hug for everyone in the class. He is of course, out numbered by the women. I think he & Norm enjoy those odds.
    I am so happy to have met him. I wish him a most heartfelt happy birthday & expect to see him for a long time on Monday, Wednesday & Friday mornings, when he is not obligated to one of his many other adventures. Love you.

    Nancy Fosco on

  • Great tribute to Ray—and every bit of it is deserved! Happy 90th birthday!

    Marilyn Andrew on

  • Have a great Birthday Ray and many more. God bless.

    Debra Lucas on

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