Wesley Acres Residents and Staff Reflect on Their Time With Governor Ray

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Governor Robert Ray greeted every person at Wesley Acres with a smile they will never forget.

“The thing that I noticed is he would just always smile. He would always smile for you. And it did bother him sometimes when he didn't recognize somebody, but like we told him, he knew so many people, you couldn't recognize everyone,” Wesley Acres Resident Betty Speas said.

The staff said he was always looking out for everyone.

“He’s somebody that we admire a lot. With the staff he’s always been so kind and such a sweet guy. In fact, with our dining staff, I know that he always asked them if they had eaten yet that day. He was always concerned about others,” Dining Director Sam Kolner said.

Kolner has a special connection to ray.

“During the dinner, I remembered I had a picture of him crowning my mother-in-law, Lois Theesfield, Miss Iowa in 1969. So I went through all of my pictures and brought that up and decided to show that to him and brought it over, and he got a big kick out of that,” Kolner said.

Ray reached out to many people, whether it was through work or even at church.

“I had long heard his name growing up in our church as a person of faith, as a person who my parents often referred to when they needed to share with me a role model,” Reverend Bill Spangler-Dunning said.

Speas said she also went to the same church.

“I knew him when all of us went to church. I knew him when I was a Sunday school teacher and I had his oldest daughter in first grade, and she was very quiet,” Speas said

They reconnected when he moved to Wesley Acres, and now she is sad to say goodbye.

“But in a way, sometimes you think he’s earned his reward, but always sad to think somebody's not going to be there when you walk over to the health center,” Speas said.