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Laurence Raymer

Excerpt from: The Beloit Daily News Weekender (July 8, 1967)
Larry Raymer... Biggest Square of All

     Laurence Arthur Raymer sat at his big, oak desk, doodling and pondering Beloit's accomplishments and its future.

     "I think you have to keep boosting," he said thoughtfully. "I am a big enough square to think you have to say nice things about people. You have to volunteer; you have to do things without being asked.

     "We have to realize that squares today are needed. Squares are the kind of people who put together and fought for this country, and will keep it and make it what we all hope it can be."

     If one were to use Raymer's definition of a square, he would have to concur that the speaker himself is a "square." Few residents of Beloit have contributed so much in so many ways as Larry Raymer. Many organizations and movements have had his personal support.

     His community work has touched the lives of all of us in some way. We all have benefited from his unselfish efforts in our behalf.

Lives Cheerfully

     Few have given as many hours cheerfully over so many years in the interest of children, young people, adults and senior citizens.

     The "Outstanding Beloiter" assumed his new duties as executive vice president of the Greater Beloit Association of Commerce recently with an abundance of energy and initiative he has shown throughout his life.

     In discussing his work with the association he affirmed: "I think our biggest job is to convince people that we can do together a lot of things we can't do alone. We have let many things and situations divide us, and we must find things that unite us."

     He has an imposing list of achievements including being named "Outstanding Citizen" in 1954 by the Jaycees; "Outstanding State Citizen" in 1949 by Eagles Lodge; "Man of the Year" in 1959 by the Greater Beloit Association of Commerce -- an organization he now leads, and citation by his church in 1954 for contributions to parish life.

     He assisted in the organization of the Beloit Safety Council, Children's Field Day, Beloit Junior Chamber of Commerce, Beloit Winter Sports Association, Beloit Council of Defense, State Line Council of Boy Scouts, First Congregational Church Men's Club, Daily News Marbles Tournament, Daily News Silver Skates Derby, Beloit Aquacade, and has been an organizer and promoter of the Red Cross, Community Chest, Poppy, Heart, Cancer, Polio drives and campaigns.

Coached Camp

     He is a member of 11 civic boards and president of three.

     Raymer coached Herbie Turman of South Beloit to the national marbles tournament championship in 1948 at Asbury Park, N.J. His work was noted in Life Magazine in 1942.

     Achievement upon achievement keys Raymer's unusual career from elementary honor student to scholarship winner, from apprentice seaman to senior lieutenant; and from cub reporter to award winning executive editor of the Daily News.

     As this "Outstanding Beloiter" recalls, he always has had a little trouble with his birthday. His mother told him he was born April 16, 1909, but when he went into the service, the health department told him his birth certificate gave the date as April 15, 1909. "I don't know whether April 15 or 16 is my birthday, so I use April 15 for official records and April 16 for birthday cakes, etc."

     His father, Ray I. Raymer, worked for Yates American Machine Co., nearly 40 years before retiring to a farm north of Beloit. His mother, the former Ruth Gensrich, now makes her home in San Francisco.

     His father's family originated from Bitche in Alsace-Lorraine where the name was spelled "Roemer" and "Rhymer."

Academic Winner

     Raymer was taught by his father at an early age to shoot, and in 1927 was on a national rifle team from Ft. Sheridan Ill. The young boy later went on to win "expert" awards with both pistol and rifle in the Navy.

     The Raymers were a depression family, and he recalls humbly that "we were so poor that we moved almost every time the rent was due." He, with his brother and sister, attended Parker, Hackett, Waterman, Merrill, Burge and Gaston schools.

     Raymer won his first academic prize at the age of 10 when he was cited for compiling the best essay and scrapbook on Boy Scouting in the state.

     A member of the board of deacons at the First Congregational Church, he joined the church on his 12th birthday and sang in the choir 12 years. "I was a poor singer, but I could sing loud and high."

     Raymer started working at the Daily News while a senior at Beloit High School. Despite his full-time employment, he placed near the top among 300 graduates.

Moved Downstairs

     He was assigned high school and college beats and through the years that followed worked his way up to state editor, associate editor, assistant to the publisher, managing editor and executive editor. During his tenure he won five awards from the Freedom Foundation for "contribution to better understanding of the American Way of Life."

     Raymer worked for the paper full time through his college years. He initially intended to be an anthropologist and later decided poetry and literature were more to his liking.

     As a young student, he lived in the attic of the Sigma Pi fraternity house, but moved downstairs when he was elected president of the chapter. He remained in the house four years after commencement in 1934, serving as graduate advisor.

     After several rejections from the military draft, he entered the Navy at the age of 36 -- the oldest man in his company. Within months, he was named honor man of his company and then regiment. He graduated with honors from the officers training school at Schuyler, N.Y. In 18 months, he was promoted from apprentice seaman to senior lieutenant.

     Raymer attributes his success in the service to membership in the Boy Scouts and the ROTC. An Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver award winner, he joined the scouts at the age of 12. He was the first man to work up from tenderfoot to the presidency of the State Line Council of Boy Scouts. It took 32 years from the time he started in a secondhand uniform. He gained several Midwest championships for makings fires by friction in 16 seconds. As an ROTC student, he recieved the American Legion Medal as outstanding ROTC cadet and attained the rank of cadet major.

Family Important

     "My family is very important to me," the 5-feet-11, civic leader emphasized proudly. He met the former Miss Clara June Simeral at The Daily News and they were married during a 72-hour pass. They were married in the First Congregational Church and honeymooned in Chicago.

     The Raymers have two sons, Steve, 21 and Tom, 19. Steve, who was named after Steve Hudson, the grand old man of New Mexico, graduated first in his class June 5 from the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism. That same afternoon he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army.

     Tom enlisted in the Air Force last October and recently has been promoted to airman second class. Tom was named after one of his Navy buddies from Texas.

     With both of their sons in the service, the Raymers find their 9-room home at 1239 LaSalle St., a bit lonesome.

     They have a seven-year-old toy terrier which is pampered by the entire family. The terrier was a Christmas gift to Tom who decided to call her "Mistletoe." The name has long since been shortened to "Missy."

     Raymer calls himself a "Grandma Moses painter with a studio in the basement." An excellent artist, he works in oil. Another portion of his basement is devoted to another hobby, lapidary.

     When he gets a chance, he likes to steal away to the nearest lake to do a little fishing. He has taken several fishing excursions into Canada.


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