Time to give: Ray Eder receives Distinguished Service Award

February 2016 Posted in People
Mount Angel Distinguished Service Ray Eder

Mount Angel Distinguished Service Ray Eder

By Steve Ritchie

Being self-employed has its advantages.

For Mount Angel farmer Ray Eder, one of the most important things about being his own boss is that it allows him the freedom to lend a hand in his community whenever it needs to be done.

Eder, who is being honored by the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce with the 2015 Distinguished Service Award, has been putting on a free-throw contest at St. Mary’s Grade School and Mount Angel Middle School for 22 years. He uses that project as an example of how his flexibility helps maximize his volunteer work.

“Some of what I do is easy for me to do during the day because of my being self-employed… for example, with the free-throw contest I can do it during the school day. If it got turned over to someone else they would probably have to do it on a Saturday and wouldn’t get any participation, where I do it through the PE classes and I see all the kids.”

Eder admits, though, that taking time out from work during the day often makes his work day longer. Like most farmers, he gets to work early and often stays late.

“I get here at 7 a.m. during the winter and earlier in the summer. I try to go home when it gets dark. It is hard but I make it work. That’s one thing about being self-employed, you can take off when you want and that’s probably the reason I’m here until dark, so I can get caught back up with work.

“I just always have been one to give my time and give back to the community.”

Eder says volunteering runs in the family, citing his mother, Mary Eder, and his father-in-law, Blair Smith, as people who influenced him with their concern for others.

“Mom was very giving and a hard-worker and liked to give back. (Blair) was a real great guy who was really involved in volunteering throughout his life and he had an effect on me.”

In his third term on the Mount Angel City Council, Eder notes the 20-plus meetings a year can be grind and serving 12 years on the council is a long stint.  “I’m not burned out yet… As long as I feel I can contribute, I’ll stay in it.”

Eder’s record of community service is extensive and diverse. It includes coaching youth basketball and little league softball, mentoring JFK students, serving on the Benedictine Sisters’ vocation and finance committees and helping with their mustard business, and donating blood to the Red Cross. Eder is involved at St. Mary Parish, where he has been a member his entire life. He joined the parish’s Knights of Columbus organization more than 30 years ago and has served as Grand Knight three times. He is a Eucharistic minister and minister to the sick.

Many of Eder’s volunteer commitments have extended for decades. For 23 years, he and his wife, Patti, and their four daughters when they were younger, picked up and delivered donations from the parish to Mission Benedict one Sunday each month.

Never one to attract attention to himself, Eder is gracious about the recognition. But he’s clearly not entirely comfortable with it.“I’m just trying to figure out who it was that nominated me.”

Whoever did, wrote, “Ray is the best kept secret” when it comes to volunteering.


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