Ray Strand, 56, died Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 at West Wind Village nursing home suffering from breathing complications in the final stages of a rare neurological disorder Multiple System Atrophy. Ray faced this progressive incurable illness with grace and courage and outlived most individuals who contract it. Funeral services for Ray Strand will be held at the Pederson Funeral Home in Morris on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm. Ray donated his brain for MSA research to the Mayo Clinic of Rochester. He was cremated and internment will be held in the spring.
Raymond Arnold Strand was born Dec. 22, 1951 in Morris to Arnold and Hazel (Kvale) Strand of Swan Lake Township. He attended public schools in Morris and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1974 with a major in Biology and one class short of obtaining an English major. Ray was a scientist and an poet, a lab technician and builder of one-of-a-kind art furniture, a computer geek and a tinkerer.
Soon after college he fulfilled a dream of his by working with The Big Outdoors People building geodesic domes. Ray loved domes, designed them, helped build them and had big plans to build one at the Strand farm site. Ray moved on to a junior scientist position at the University of Minnesota where he worked in a cardiac research lab for two of his mentors in life, Dr. Lillehi and Dr. Joyce. After that he managed cytogenetics labs under the tutelage of Dr. Nancy Wang in Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Rochester NY. Ray left his scientific self behind to study under Wendell Castle at his School for Fine Woodworking and Furniture Design in upstate New York. After returning to Minnesota he established his business, Prairie Sky Design, where he designed and built a variety of furniture, had several gallery showings and sold commissioned pieces of art furniture.
Ray was raised Lutheran but explored Buddhism while in college. He became a member of the Buddhist lay organization Soka Gakkai International (SGI) in 1974. He opened his home for SGI discussion meetings, encouraging others and working toward world peace throughout his life.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Clare (Dingley) Strand; two sons Michael Peder and William Thomas; his sisters Marilyn Strand (Randy Best) and Gloria Strand Perchinski (Bill Brown). Ray was preceded in death by his parents and two unborn children, Annie Clare and Christopher Raymond.