Earlier this summer, a memorial garden and park bench were dedicated in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park, in memory of Ray Houser. Houser, a member of the Lions Club of Staunton for 69 years, and the longtime master of ceremonies of the city’s annual Bluegrass in the Park summer concert series, passed away in 2012.
The Lions Club desired to honor Houser and his service to the club and the city and thought it appropriate to choose the very spot from which Houser watched countless bluegrass concerts, between the Gypsy Hill Park bandstand and concession stand. Club Treasurer Woody Sanders said that “Ray loved his work with Bluegrass in the Park and enjoyed listening to the music on his folding chair. It seemed appropriate that we would honor him at a place he loved so much.”
City Horticulturist Matt Sensabaugh and Horticulture Assistant Terry Bonner designed and completed the installation of the memorial garden and bench, which were funded by the Lions Club, in recognition of Houser’s numerous contributions to the community. Among other organizations, the Lions Club, the Salvation Army, the Valley Mission, Ruritan and Statler Brothers’ Happy Birthday U.S.A., all benefitted from Houser’s leadership and dedication.
In its own release, the club stated, with obvious affection, “Lion Ray’s great humanitarian spirit, sense of humor, and love of people will be greatly missed.”