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Meet Ray Barnum

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By Nancy Huth

Keeping in good physical condition is a top priority for Ray Barnum, who turned 70 last year.  Ray,  who teaches twice weekly in the Silver Sneakers classes at the Fitness Plus gym in Middlefield, is  a great example for seniors. Two seniors who attend his classes, Roberta and Art Barringer, said, “We love Ray’s upbeat, encouraging manner and how he keeps us moving for the whole hour.”

A 1964-graduate of Cardinal High School and valedictorian of his class, Ray lives in a century home in Mesopotamia with his wife Linda.  The home had belonged to Ray’s grandparents Alvia and Iona Jemison.  Alvia worked for Johnson Rubber for 40 years.  Ray and Linda met when both attended Hiram College where Ray got his BA in Spanish.  During his junior year he spent nine months at the University of Madrid attending a program for Americans learning Spanish.  After graduating from Hiram, Ray headed to Germany where he served three years in the US Army. While there the Barnums lived off-base where they could get to know the locals and learn German.  After being discharged Ray and Linda traveled for three months through Germany and Italy in a Volkswagen Beetle (Bug) carrying a tent and supplies on a roof rack.  Back stateside Ray taught Spanish and German for three years at Ashtabula High before earning his Master’s degree in Business at The Ohio State University.  With a business degree in hand Ray moved to Detroit to work 11 years as a project manager in information technology as well as in sales and marketing. His work took him to Europe frequently where he and Linda lived in Brussels, Belgium for  three months while he worked on an IT project.  He also spent 15 months at Kraftmaid as a foreman and production analyst.

After returning to northeast Ohio, Ray’s love of teaching and working with teenagers drew him back to the classroom. He taught Spanish for 13 years at high schools in Sharon, PA, Conneaut and Geneva, Ohio.

Between the ages of 44-48 Ray completed six marathons.  He is now involved in our community helping keep physical fitness awareness a priority for seniors living here.  As Ray said, “It’s fun to look back at what you’ve done, but I always want to have a goal and plan for what I can accomplish in the future.” Besides volunteering to teach Silver Sneakers classes twice a week, Ray has also coached the Middlefield Chair Volleyball team to victories in 2016 and 2017 in a state-wide tournament in Athens, Ohio.  The team is undefeated in numerous local northeast Ohio tournaments over the past several years.  Ray plays pickle ball regularly and has run in local road races and track events.  This year he competed in the 70-74 age category in the Ohio Senior Olympics.  He brought home a bronze, two silver and three gold medals. He plans to compete in the 2018 Ohio Senior Olympics with the goal of qualifying for the National Senior Olympics in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2019.  We wish him luck and we thank him for his energy and enthusiasm in helping to keep us healthy.

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