Ray Ulmer

Ray Ulmer
May 22, 1928 – September 20, 2022
Martinez resident

Raymond Ulmer, 94, of Martinez, California passed away Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Celebration of Life services will be held at Colonial Chapels in Vallejo, CA, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 3:00 pm (viewing 2:00 pm) followed by a reception. Burial will take place Monday, Oct. 17, 12:30 pm at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, CA.

Raymond was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska to John William and Sarah Etta (Clary) Ulmer on May 22, 1928.

Growing up in Scottsbluff, he began elementary school in a segregated, mixed-race school until he was unceremoniously and to his dismay, removed to an all white school. He spent much of his childhood working in the sugar beet fields of the area, (and his parents were farmers who came to California many years later and had their small farm in Concord). In 1946 he graduated from Scottsbluff High School.

His education was interrupted by WWII, as he made his way to California to enlist in the military. Unable to serve in the Navy due to his young age (17) and visual impairment, he was accepted into the US Maritime Service (Merchant Marines) in Denver, CO in 1945. He served as a Steward’s Mate, Second Class, on the M/S/ H.T. Harper out of Richmond. He was released from active duty in San Francisco, also in 1945.

Upon high school graduation, he returned West to Martinez, CA in 1947 where he worked in the asphalt lab, eventually as Lead Inspector (chemist), for Shell Oil Company, for over 34 years, retiring in 1981.

He also served in the National Guard of California from 1947 to 1954 during the Korean War, when he was Honorably Discharged, and as a US Army Reservist.

On a return visit to Nebraska in 1949, he met his dance partner for life, “Patsy” Lambert of Bayard, NE. They married in Carson City, Nevada, and then raised their family in Martinez. Pat and Ray celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary this past August.

In 1955 Ray contracted with the San Francisco Chronicle to represent them in the greater Martinez area. The daily newspaper sold for a nickel. He turned the dealership back to the Chronicle in 2008, at the age of 80 after meeting most of the people in Martinez over the years, and teaching his children to be a part of the family business and community.

Over his many years as an active citizen of Martinez, Ray was a lifetime member and youth leader of the First Congregational Church, and served in union leadership with the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Local 1-5- and Contra Costa Labor Council, achieving healthcare for members as a benefit, was a Master Mason of Martinez Masonic Lodge No. 41 F&AM since 1965, was elected to the Martinez Unified School District Board of Trustees, served as President and Board Member for over 35 years with the Mt. View Improvement Association, and served over 3000 hours of volunteer service with Contra Costa Regional Medical’s Hospital Auxiliary. He enjoyed dancing to the Big Bands with his wife and taught his daughters how to dance, he was a bowler on Shell leagues and played softball and bocce in Martinez leagues, such as The Chrocroniclers.  He also helped to build the DiMaggio fields at the marina in Martinez when they were first built, and as part of Mt.View Improvement Association, voted to approve the use of Mt.View Improvement Assoc. park for use by the City of Martinez and the neighborhoods for no lease cost to them.

He developed a committee, the Citizens for a Safe Martinez, that was responsible for creating a safe family long-term homeless shelter with programs, as opposed to the County’s attempt to put in a single-night, men-only homeless shelter in his own neighborhood.  That shelter program is still successful over 25 years later.

As a result of his strong community commitment and achievements, California’s Assembly created an Honorable Resolution in his name in 1995, presented by Assemblyman Bob Campbell.

Mayor Mike Menesini and the City of Martinez proclaimed a day in August 1999  as Raymond and Patricia Ulmer Day, receiving a 50th Wedding Anniversary Proclamation of Recognition for their lengthy community service.

Raymond is survived by his wife, Patricia (Lambert), children and sons-in-law; Cheryll (Mark Haskell) Grover, Cynthia (Steve) Bandrowsky, Cathleen Cline, Christine (Joe) Huff, and William Ulmer, grandchildren; Jacob Travisano, Stephen and Christopher Bandrowsky, Lisa Cline, Calen Huff, Jordan Davison, Dustin Ulmer and Kenneth Ulmer and eight great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, John William and Sarah Etta Ulmer, brothers; Evon, Kenneth, Donald, Thomas Ulmer, and sisters; Zola Williams, Cecilia Haller and Lavonda Zehren, as well as son-in-law, Robert Cline.

Donations are welcomed in lieu of flowers to the Mt. View Improvement Association, c/o Colonial Chapels, 1000 Redwood Sr., Vallejo, CA 94590, or 1357 Peach St. Martinez, CA 9455.

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