Raymond Fern, Loved by Family and Friends, Respected by Peers
Raymond Fern was a veteran’s veteran. He served in the United States Air Force, doing a tour of duty in Korea through 1953. After his service in Korea, Ray received an honorable discharge from the Air Force as a Sergeant. He always would tell anyone who would listen that Korea was the “coldest place he had ever been to”. For fifty-nine years his loyalty and dedication to his fellow comrades continued. A great portion of his time was spent at the local Veteran’s Administration Hospitals, where he amassed over 15,000 volunteer hours. In a relentless manner, he served those who had lost their health – the hospitalized veteran – with the motto “Keep ‘em smiling in beds of white”.
In 2006, Ray Fern became the International Supreme Commander of the United States Military Order of the Cootie (MOC), which is the Honor Degree of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and was honored at a banquet in a room packed full of dignitaries and colleagues from twenty-two states across America as well as having speakers such as Past Commander-in-Chief Jim Goldsmith, Major Ronald Dickens, USAF (RET), and Jim Dykes representing Senator Jane Orie. He was the only Pittsburgher ever to achieve this status in the then Cootie 87-year history.
Ray became a member of the Jene-Mager VFW Post 278 in Bloomfield in 1984. He amassed exceptional achievements attained by hard work and personal sacrifice that resulted in Fern’s prestigious rise through the ranks, including being named as Outstanding Commander and All American Commander for each of the offices he held. He was also awarded the distinction of being 100% as Post Commander, County Commander, and District Commander.
Ray was invited to join the MOC in 1989 and became a Life Member in 1993. Again, his support of all fellow veterans became the most important factor while he rose through the ranks culminating in being elected as International Supreme Commander, MOC in 2006. He was named as the All*Star Grand Commander of Pennsylvania in 2000 and was awarded the coveted Pennsylvania Cootie of the Year Award in 2002. From 2000 to 2012 Fern was the Editor of the MOC newspaper, Cootie Courier.
Ray held membership as Chairman/Commissioner of the Keystone Kops Program, Commissioner in the National Home Fire Department, Life Member in the Texas Horny Toads, Life Member in the Department of Europe Bier Busters, Life Member in the Pacific Areas Paddy Daddy Program, and was a very proud recipient of the 2004 Legion of Honor Award received from The Chapel of Four Chaplains. He was also a member of the Korean War Veterans (Life Member), American Legion, Merchant Marines, Knights of Equity, Loyal Order of the Eagles, Catholic War Veterans, and a 32nd Degree Mason.
Ray served on the Board of Directors of the Bloomfield Preservation & Heritage Society, served on several committees of the Bloomfield Citizens Council, and has received Distinguished Service Awards from them for his patriotism. From 1997 to 2006, he also served on the Board of Directors for Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall. He previously served as Hospital Chairman for Sharing and Caring, Pittsburgh.
Ray was also honored by his home town by having City Council Member Bill Peduto and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declare October 31, 2006 as “Ray Fern Day in Pittsburgh”. Ray served the City of Pittsburgh as a Constable from 1995-1998. He belonged to St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Church Parish (formerly Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish), where he served as an usher.
In all of America, Fern’s brightest light shines in the eyes of the Veterans he served and the family he loved so very dearly, his wife Patti Donatelli Fern, his daughter Ilona Fern Grenzig, and son-in-law Bill Grenzig, and grandson Matthew. Ray was the son of the late Winifred Fern and was preceded in death by four brothers and three sisters. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Wednesday and Thursday, November 14-15, 2012 at Zalewski’s Funeral Home, 216 Forty-fourth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201. Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Fr. Doug Boyd, will be at 10:00 AM on Friday, November 16, 2012 at St. Maria Goretti Parish, Friendship Campus (formerly Immaculate Conception Church).