“Family is a big thing for us,” said Ray Bean, Mendelson Home resident.
Ray and his wife Patti met in college. Ray attended the University of Detroit, studying to be an Architectural Engineer. Patti went to school nearby at the Mt. Carmel Hospital School of Nursing.
“We met at a party,” said Ray. “There was a football game at the University and a gathering afterwards.”
Patti’s friends convinced her to take a break from her studies and go to the party with them. She met Ray and the two soon began dating.
“We were very involved in a lot of activities with the other nursing and engineering students,” said Ray.
They went to dinner dances, ball games and many other school events. They dated for nearly three and a half years before marrying in 1954, at Holy Redeemer Church.
Following graduation, Ray joined the US Navy Civil Engineering Corps.
“We had to plan our wedding remotely,” said Ray.
“We were going to wait until he completed active duty to get married, but didn’t want to wait another two years,” said Patti.
Ray’s first assignment was near San Diego, California, working with construction crews on San Clemente Island to a build bomb proof shelter, repair a WWII airfield and harbor facilities.
“When I arrived in San Diego, they told me they had no place for me to stay. They were out of housing,” said Ray.
He and five other men ended up renting a house on Imperial Beach near the Mexican border. After he and Patti married, she joined him in Coronado, California where the two of them rented a small home on the Island.
“Southern California was like Heaven on earth. The weather was always beautiful,” said Patti.
Patti used her time on the island to get settled into her new home. She also found a nursing job working at Mercy Hospital in San Diego.
She had to take a Ferry to the mainland each day and then bus to the hospital. She worked in the operating room and assisted with surgeries until her first pregnancy.
“You had to be very still in the operating room and pass the instruments very quickly. That became more difficult for me when I was pregnant. Standing so still for so long would sometimes make me feel a little dizzy,” said Patti.
Unable to fulfill the duties of her position, Patti took time off from the hospital and focused on their growing family. Their first child was born at the Naval Air Station, six blocks from their home.
Five months later, Ray was reassigned to the Navy Ship Yard in San Francisco, repairing ships damaged in the Korean war. That was his last assignment. In 1956, he joined the reserves. He and Patti returned to Michigan, now with a second child in tow.
“It was exciting to move back home. We had two babies our families hadn’t seen,” said Patti.
Ray was offered a job within two weeks of being home. He was hired to work with one of the best architects of the time, Eero Saarinen and his associates.
“I happened on the job by chance,” said Ray. “Their office was expanding and they needed people with construction experience.”
Because of his educational background in Architectural Engineering and his time spent in construction with the Navy, Ray qualified for the job. During his employment, he was involved with projects such as TWA Terminal at the Kennedy International Airport in New York, and the Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. He also worked on the bidding and construction plans for the Yale University hockey rink.
“Dulles was built on nine thousand acres and designed to accommodate one hundred twenty aircrafts,” said Ray. “It was the equivalent of five major airports in one.”
Ray and Patti rented a condo in Royal Oak for six months. Afterwards, they purchased their first home. They lived there for eleven years, but eventually outgrew their three bedroom house.
“We ended up buying the house five doors down on the same street,” said Ray.
Their new home had an extra bedroom and bathroom. The Beans had seven children total. With five boys and two girls, the extra space came in handy.
Outside of work, both Ray and Patti had busy lives. Ray chose to go back to school in 1963 to get his Master’s Degree in Business Administration and eventually took a job in Industry, using both of his degrees.
For her part, Patti continued to pursue her interest in the medical field. She volunteered her time at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where she worked in post-op recovery. She also spent time working in the NICU.
“My biggest job in NICU was just to hold the babies. The parents would visit as often as they could but they couldn’t always be there. Physical touch and sound was a big part of their development. It helped them grow and get stronger so they could go home. I would hold the babies and sing to them,” said Patti.
Ray and Patti were also both very involved with their own children’s lives. Faith and family were two values emphasized regularly. As such, spending time together as a family was important to the Beans.
“We were both scout leaders,” said Ray.
They attended scout meetings and outings. They also did a lot of family camping, buying a small trailer for trips. One of their favorite places to camp was Interlochen, Michigan, a small town near Traverse City. Interlochen is the location of Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Children involved with Interlochen’s summer program performed for guests, but the school also booked professionals such as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops.
In addition to Michigan campgrounds, the Beans also traveled to national parks in both the United States and Canada. The children were taught to use maps and helped navigate their trips.
“We wanted them to see and experience other places,” said Patti.
The Beans have lived a successful life, with many adventures. However, their greatest adventure was raising their family.
“I always thought raising our children was the most important thing I could do,” said Patti. “It’s amazing when you think about it. We’ve lived so long and are so blessed to have witnessed our children grow and have successful careers. Now they’re raising families and doing good for other people in the world.”
Ray and Patti have twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Many of them live nearby, but the few who do not, keep in touch through technology, using video chats and sending pictures.
The Beans will both be 88 years-of-age this year and have been married for sixty-four of them. They now reside at Mendelson Home, where they continue to live full lives.
“We love Senior Theater,” said Patti. “Lexi puts on so many great plays. We also really like the sing-a-longs with Laurie.”
In addition to music and theater, both Ray and Patti enjoy taking part in exercise activities and discussion groups.
“Mendelson Home and Lourdes Senior Community at large, have been great for us,” said Ray. “We really enjoy being here.”