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Thursday, September 8, 2022
3:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)
Friday, September 9, 2022
Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)
Friday, September 9, 2022
Raymond Lowell Sorensen of Stoneham, Massachusetts died on Monday, August 29, 2022, following a short illness. He was 96 years old.
Raymond was born at the Winthrop Community Hospital on February 5, 1926, the day after a deadly winter storm had buried New England in more than a foot of snow. His parents were Ralph Waldo and Elmerta Blanche (Tibbetts) Sorensen. The family lived with Raymond’s grandparents in Everett until he was 8 years old, at which point they moved to Stoneham, the town where he would spend the rest of his life.
Raymond graduated in the Class of 1944 at Stoneham High School alongside his beloved wife of 72 years, the late Margaret (Thompson) Sorensen. The class yearbook reports that “wherever any mischievous pranks are being planned, you can always find drawling Ray,” who was also voted class comedian. Life was not all fun and games, of course, as the nation’s involvement in World War II loomed large in the minds of the students. With his graduation fast approaching, Raymond enlisted in the US Army Air Forces and reported for active service in July of 1944, at the age of eighteen.
“War is terrible,” he later wrote, “but it was an unbelievable experience to have the whole country all pulling together in the same direction.” He completed his training just as the war drew to a close, and was discharged on November 20, 1945. Raymond had already volunteered for the Stoneham Auxiliary Fire Department in 1942, and soon after his return to civilian life was appointed to the call force. In 1949, to his parents’ surprise, he gave up a job at the New England Telephone Company to accept a full-time position at the Stoneham Fire Department. Raymond brought dedication, preparedness, and an easygoing nature to the job—a combination that soon earned the admiration of his fellow firefighters. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1954 and then to captain in 1962. He also earned an associate’s degree in fire science from North Shore Community College, with honors.
Raymond’s 19-year tenure as chief of the department began in 1967. “I found my days to be extremely full and challenging,” he would fondly recall, “not just the firefighting aspect but the day-to-day managing of the department.” He served as president (1984–85) and secretary-treasurer (1986–91) of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts and was appointed by Governor Edward King to the Massachusetts Board of Fire Prevention Regulations. In his campaign against the dangers of unvented kerosene space heaters, Raymond testified before the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, D.C., as well as the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety. Due to his efforts, the heaters are now prohibited in Massachusetts.
Following his retirement, Raymond volunteered at the Boston Regional Medical Center until its closure in 1999 and then for two decades at the Winchester Hospital—right up to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a volunteer, he came to realize that “life, humor, and pathos all carry on no matter where you go,” even in a hospital. Raymond also found time to write three books related to the history of Stoneham, including the autobiographical Strike a Third (2002). He served as vice president and trustee of the Stoneham Savings Bank, as president of the Kiwanis Club of Stoneham, and on the board of directors at the Fuller House of Stoneham.
Raymond maintained a summer home near Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, where he and Margaret shared many happy memories. In his spare time, he pursued numerous hobbies and interests including boating, photography, jigsaw puzzles, model railroads, kite flying, reading historical fiction, and learning about his Danish heritage.
Raymond is survived by his devoted daughters, Bette Jean Norton and her husband Arthur and Marcia Strykowski and her husband Robert. He is also survived by many loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Family and friends are kindly invited to visiting hours on Thursday, September 8th from 3–6pm in the Barile Family Funeral Home, 482 Main St. (RT 28) STONEHAM. Masks are required while visiting at the Funeral Home. Parking attendants and elevator are available. A Funeral Service will be held on Friday, September 9th at the First Congregational Church, 1 Church St. Stoneham at 11am. Interment will follow in Puritan Lawn Memorial Park, Peabody.
Please consider making donations in Ray’s memory to the Stoneham Fire Department, 25 Central Street, Stoneham.
For more information, www.facebook.com/BarileFamilyFuneralHome