Meet Ray and Patti Bean
It all began with a term paper.
As a young nursing student in Detroit, Patricia Green made the short trip home every Friday to spend the weekend with her family. One weekend, however, she had a paper to finish and stayed at school.
Friends persuaded Patti to go with them to a University of Detroit football game. Afterwards, they went to a dance.
A group of boys came up to Patti’s group of friends, and a young man named Raymond Bean asked Patti to dance.
“Three marriages came out of that dance!” Recalled Patti.
Not long after Patti and Ray met and began dating, Ray graduated from the University of Detroit with a degree in Architectural Engineering. The Korean War had begun by that time and Ray joined the Navy.
Ray was stationed across the country in Coronado, a little town near San Diego. There he was involved with construction work at the naval base. Patti remained 2,000 miles away in Detroit working as a clinical nursing instructor, but still they stayed committed to each other.
“There were four bachelors living with Ray in that beach house,” laughed Patti, “but I trusted him.”
On October 9, 1954, four years after that first dance, Patti and Ray were married at Most Holy Redeemer Church in Detroit.
Walking into their reception, they found a humorous surprise.
“I never thought about our last names until our wedding reception,” said Patti. “There was a banner that read ‘The Green Bean Wedding’!”
After the wedding, Ray returned to California, this time accompanied by his new wife. They lived in Coronado and then San Francisco while Ray continued his work at the large naval shipyard.
In 1956, when the Beans moved back to Michigan, they had two children.
When his active duty enlistment was up, the Navy asked if Ray would serve on inactive reserves, but Ray declined.
“If I didn’t have kids and a family, I might have stayed,” said Ray.
Instead, the couple settled in Ray’s hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan to raise their family.
Patti was one of eight children and Ray was the youngest of four, and they hoped to have a big family of their own. Eventually, they got their wish.
“In the course of events, we had seven children,” said Ray.
The final count was five boys and two girls – “a basketball team and two cheerleaders.”
The Bean household was a busy one, but Ray and Patti tried to make it to all of their children’s events. With seven children, at times attending five different schools, it could be a challenge.
“When there were conflicts, we compromised. The children were all so different but special in their own ways,” said Patti.
A favorite activity of the Bean family was camping. When their kids were little, Patti and Ray began taking them camping throughout the state. One of their favorite places was Hoeft State Park, near Rogers City. The camping tradition lives on today, with their now grown children, taking their own families.
Ray was fortunate to be able to travel during his years of work as well.
After finishing his navy career, Ray went back to school and earned his Master’s in Business Administration. The MBA, coupled with his past work, gave Ray a rich and varied scope of experiences.
“All that experience helped him get a job,” said Patti.
Ray had the opportunity to work for a noted architect for five years. During that time, he was able to be part of the teams involved with the design of several American landmark projects. He then worked for several other firms before taking a job at General Motors.
Ray had “42 years of building, design, and construction work” experience before retiring in 1993 from General Motors, where he was employed for 30 years.
After years of interesting travels and endeavors, including a memorable trip to Peru, Ray has many interesting stories to tell.
With seven children, Patti turned her attention from nursing full-time to motherhood. However, she was able to channel her passion for being a nurse and caregiver through volunteer work.
Patti volunteered in the NICU at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for 24 years, to provide care and comfort for sick babies. She also spent many years working for Birthright, an organization dedicated to supporting young single mothers.
Ray was also a community and church volunteer.
One otherwise normal day in 1987, crisis hit close to home.
Patti very seriously injured her right arm in a horse riding accident. Her injury was so severe, they feared amputation would be necessary. Prayers were answered and nearly 30 years later, Patti still has both arms.
“I even have full rotation of my arm,” said Patti.
Ray supported her through it all.
“When two people get married, one is not an individual anymore but a pair,” said Patti.
With age comes more challenges, but as they have done for 62 years, Ray and Patti tackle life’s challenges together.
The beauty of life is that where there are troubles, there is also abundant joy.
Patti and Ray had always wanted a big family. Today they have seven children, twelve grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren with a fourth on the way.
“With the extended family included, there are 300 people in the family!” Said Ray.
They are thankful.
“We are very blessed to be around this long and to be able to see our great-grandchildren,” said Patti.
Spending time with Patti and Ray, one thing is very clear; after 62 years, they very much still enjoy each other.
“In a marriage,” said Ray, “you learn to trust, to listen to each other, and to share.”