Ray Scott – Promoted to Glory

Rrring. Ring. Brring. The phone is picked up on the other end. “Ray Scott,” comes the ebullient replyover Alexander Graham Bell’s invention. I respond by saying, “Ray who?” and the jovial voice on the other end says, “Oh, hi Robert.” Never was I able to fool him who was calling. He always knew it was me. It was always so good to hear his voice especially during the last year knowing all the physical ailments he’d been fighting. How many times did I call? Sheesh. I really can’t say. Now, however, I can’t do that any more. I truly miss that greeting and subsequent conversation and remember a lot of the things he used to say. I know many of his adversaries on the other side of that 5 foot high net plus many of his other friends will miss him also. They will remember things about him. His promotion to glory has finally taken his get up and go. Let me explain. Back in 1996 I asked Tom Lucas, a member of our Top Flight Badminton Club, amateur singer, songwriter and entertainer with his Peter, Paul & Morrie folk trio, to write some special lyrics about Ray. And to sing them at the 23rd annual Ray Scott Open tournament dinner break. Tom said he’d give it a try. Tom and his side kick, Bryan Whiteside, (the other member of the trio) was unavailable, gave a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, catchy tune performance, “The Ballad of Ray Scott,” sung to a Pete Seeger melody was the result and included these lines:

When he was younger his racquet was red; He could smash the bird down from over his head. As he got older his racquet was blue, Still, he could play the whole day through. Now that he’s older, his racquet is black. He huffs to the net and puffs his way back, But never ya laugh, he don’t mind at all “Cause he’d rather be huffing than not puff at all. Refrain: How does he know that his youth has been spent? His get-up-and-go has got up and went, But in spite of it all, he’s able to grin And think of the places his get up has been.

What a hit he and his group were to the assembled throng of tired badminton competitors. Would they be back the following year the gathered players wanted to know. Good entertainment they said. Ray was born in Presho, South Dakota, Dec 1., 1916. He was good athlete in high school then attended Nettleton Community College, Sioux Falls, SD from 1934-36. For his attendance there he received a Certificate of Proficiency in 1935. One of his first jobs was an Administrative Assistant at the John Deere Plow Co., Sioux Falls, SD, 1940-41. He served in the United States Air Force (USAF) at various locations from1942-1957. He retired from the USAF and Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska as a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) after serving from 1958-1972. Following this he did a brief stint as an administrative assistant to the director at the Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska from1973-74 then moved on to become executive director of the Midlands Community Hospital Foundation, Papillion, NE from 1974-1985. From 1986-1989 he was the volunteer executive director of the United States Badminton Asssociation, Papillion, Nebraska. All this while his other job was president & owner of R&G Enterprises, Papillion, Nebraska. This title continued until his “promotion to glory” at the end of 2001. Ray was a member of the Papillion City Council from 1982-1984; chairman of a local organization of Boy Scouts of America, Omaha, Nebraska from 1960-2001. While serving in this organization he received the Boy Scouts Silver Beaver Award for “distinguished service to boyhood” in 1971. He was a board director of the Civil Service Commisssion, Papillion, 1979-1981; on the Economic Development Council, Papillion, 1984; a recipient of the Meritorious Service Award, International Badminton Federation, Gloucestershire, England, 1989; a member of American Legion Bossard Post 32, Papillion, from 1960-1985 where he served as adjutant and finance officer. Over 12 framed citations for meritorious service in 1968 have their own place on his office wall; several Chamber of Commerce positions (board of directors, secretary and treasurer. He received the Outstanding Service Award in 1976 and the Distinguished Service Award in 19841984. He was also listed in Who’s Who in the Midwest, 23rd edition, 1992-1993. Ray also a recipient of a National Master in Presidential Sports Award category of badminton, 1988. Did you know that Ray was also an author? Yep, that’s right. He wrote a book (hard bound and 2 inches thick) about his Aunt Ida entitled “IDIE” A Saga of Ida Mallett: A Unique History of a True South Dakota ‘Sod Shanty Pioneer’, 2000. Additionally, he was also the catalyst for another book (in 1973) about retired Major General Alfred Kalberer. Ray was also responsible for creating the Kalberer Collection at Midlands Community Hospital in Papillion. Lastly, he was writing his autobiography. Sadly, that remains unfinished. Piles upon piles of typed manuscripts are scattered around his office. If I was retired and had the time…… I’d take on the task of finishing it. Hmmmmmmm. Additional memorabilia that adorns the office walls (everything is framed), will eventually go to the Lyman County Historical Society in Presho, South Dakota. The collection includes a 1988 nomination for the James E. Sullivan Award; a plaque for Top Flight’s 25th Anniversary from the Midwest Badminton Association. Part of the inscription reads, “ your gifts of time and love are priceless.” Sound familiar? A USBA Meritorious Service Award for “…the past 30 years…”; Mr. Badminton from the Offutt Top Flight Badminton Club, 1972 and an Army-Navy Air Force Register and Armed Forces Writers Program, 1960. Ray won many USAB championships over the years and was a perennial competitor in the Senior Nationals, Senior International championships and the Senior Olympics. Other awards Ray received: the USABs Ken Davidson Award in 1980 and the Charles and Ada Wurst USA Badminton Senior Award of Merit for Service and Sportsmanship in 1990. Additionally, Ray was selected Outstanding Male Athlete (at the age of 79) of the 1994 Cornhusker State Games. Ray became a member of the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska on a proclamation signed by then Governor Bob Kerry in 1986. Another former governor, Ben Nelson designated Ray as a General Notary Public in 1997. Pressing on then I’ll always remember working as the first paid Director of Public Relations of the USBA for him. He sweet talked me into leaving freelancing in 1989. He had bailed out the USBA by volunteering to be executive director, moving the office from Michigan to Papillion, NE and putting a lot of his own money into keeping the USBA afloat and he wanted to upgrade the USBA office.Eighty nine was the year I redesigned the USBA logo. Ray then had the logo put on a white flag (another USBA first) and then raised the new flag in the Fall of 1989 at the Olympic Training Center in colorado Springs. Is the flag still flying? According to Warren Emerson, editor of BUSA,1988-91, “Ray singlehandedly saved the US association from extinction by moving the office into his office in Papillion. One of his greatest contributions to the game of badminton in the USA.”Here, here, Warren. Stan Hales, president of the USBA wrote a letter to Ray in 1986, echoing those comments, “I do not know how we on the Board can thank you enough for the superb organization and hospitality you offered us last weekend for the meeting (a USBA board meeting). There is such a feeling of optimism amongst us, as you certainly saw, and it is largely due to the incredible progress that we have made under your direction. The arrangements you have made for the office are really impressive…” That’s just a smidgen of what Ray did for the sport of badminton. I remember that diminuitive office and how cold it was up front by the window (looking out at the corn fields from where I sat – it’s all houses now; the corn fields have been promoted to glory too! I remember having his blessing on purchasing the first travelling display for the USBA and hauling it off to the Super Show in Atlanta and the AAHPERD national convention in Boston. Wonder whatever happened to it? I remember packing trophies in my El Camino and hauling them to Colorado Springs for the national championships. I remember writing press releases for him and making many phone calls trying to promote our favorite game. I remember going to the printer and arranging for publication of the magazine. Wait, there’s more…I’m sure that as you read this story, you will have your own remembrances of Ray. Can’t you just hear him saying, “Do you know where your get-up-and-go is? Has it got-up-and-went-yet?” I remember all those Ray Scott Opens and the national and international championships sponsored by the Top Flight Badminton Club. And I’ve only been part of the Club since 1975. Len Williams and John Frady and other Top Flight members go farther back than I do. I remember slaving away many hours “pasting up” programs for the RSO tournaments. (No computers at that time). I remember making many phone calls and personal contacts trying to sell ads for the same programs. So too did other Top flight members. Ray always wanted to have a program for his tournament. No, not tournament, “tourney” as he always referred to it. Len Williams and I , despised the word, but Ray insisted on using it. Hey, he was the boss, right? Only the nationals had a comparable program listing past national champions. Well, it was one way to keep up on the results of all the national tournaments. But it wasn’ without extra expense. Whether our club had the funds or not he insisted on doing the program. Only within the last few years did Len and I convince him that it wasn’t worth the effort. That was one of the few times he actually acquiesced, albeit reluctantly. I think his get-up-and-go already was preparing to get-up-and-go. Dick Witte in St. Louis reminisced about Ray in a recent e-mail to me.

“Here’s the dope: I was playing in Omaha in the Singles and Doubles of the 60s and 50s when Scotty asked me to play with him in the 40s to fill out the draw. I figured we had about as much chance of winning that as going to the moon. We won our first and second matches and were faced in the finals by Carl Norton and Jan Bartelt (I felt if we got 5 and 5 we’d be lucky). Scotty confused him with his tricky serve and covered the net. I ran in the back court and WE ACTUALLY WON IN TWO!!!!!!!! I consider it one of the very best wins that I had in 63 years of badminton and Scotty and I often commiserated over our MIRACLE WIN!” Signed: Badminton Wizard Played in Omaha some 20 years ago.

Were you ever victimized by his tricky serve? I know I was, plenty of times. Ray was known for a lot of things. Here’s another example. Read the words from the citation to accompany his induction into the USA Badminton Senior Hall of Fame:

“For your lifelong commitment and dedication to badminton, numerous senior titles at local, state, regional, national and international levels, for outstanding leadership as USABadminton Executive director, for securing sponsors for many of the senior/master perpetual trophies, for your efforts of getting the sport of badminton included in the Olympics as a Class A sport and countless other ways you have supported the sport of badminton for so many years.”

Ray was awarded this honor, in absentia, at the 2001 Senior National Championships in Spokane, Washington by Jack Harvey, USAB Senior Council member. Len Williams, Offutt Top Flight Badminton Club Vice President, and the individual responsible for nominating Ray for this honor, accepted the award for Ray at the championships banquet in front of 125 people. According to Len, “everyone in the room stood and applauded.” All came by to pass along their congratulations. Ray was physically unable to attend the tournament and because he had been incapacitated battling the debilitating remnants of Guillian Barre Syndrome and unable to travel. What was more painful to him, however, was being unable to compete on the badminton court. His goal through his illnesses was to get back on the court. He actually did accomplish that briefly at the Nebraska Senior Olympics in Kearney two years ago. Chaperoned by Hank Schuring (a true friend and confidant) and wearing his ubiquitous white warmup suit, Ray, somewhat proudly but shakily, stood on the court with racquet in hand and actually hit that “tricky serve” of his. He was unable to move or bend over so we collected the birds and handed them to him. His get-up-and-go was still chomping at the bit but the spring had lost it’s tight coil. You could see it loosening. In e-mail correspondence with me as I prepared this article, Jack Harvey said, “Ray deserves any accolades for in my book he was “Mr. Badminton.” People don’t realize how much he contributed to the game. Executive director, sponsor of the Ray Scott tournament, coordinator for Senior’s trophies, director in the USBA education fund and President. I will always remember him as the most well-mannered and best dressed and statesman amongst us all and a perfect gentleman. Great loss to badminton and we will never replace anyone so dedicated to the game and truly love the sport.” Here, here, Jack. I have been in Ray’s office many times, which he had expanded from the original USBA executive director days of yore. Once there I usually gawked at all the memorabilia on the office walls. Photos of retired generals, photos of presidents, family and wife Gladys, Red Cross citations, Boy Scout citations, certificates, awards, and, oh we can’t forget the scrapbooks (no, they weren’t on the walls) – a who’s who of competitors in past Ray Scott Opens. Mary Ann Bowles from St. Louis, perennial participant at past Ray Scott Opens always said “what a treat to see the scrapbooks and all the past history of the tournaments. What an impressive collection of memorabilia.” Somehow I never paid much attention to one particular display, a glass door “china” cabinet on the east wall as you walked into his office, jam-packed with badminton awards. On a recent visit researching material for this article, I cautiously opened the doors, respectfully lifted out, one by one, examples of the many cabinet inhabitants: shells, statues, shuttlecocks, cups, pens and more and proceeded to read the engraving on them. A sampling of inscriptions reads: Offutt AFB Doubles, 1963, 2AF Doubles, 1st, 1963; Ray Scott Open SMD 1st 1984; RSO MMD 2nd 1975. American Badminton 2nd Singles, Oslo, Norway, 1958; Offutt AFB Runner Up Doubles, 1971; OAFB Doubles Runner up 1969. There were many more. After counting almost 90 I gave up. Below the shelves are drawers with additional ribbons and medals representing many more of his badminton conquests. The accolades continued. A June 1, 2001 editorial in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper read like this:

Headline: Badminton Ace deserves honor. “If anyone deserves a badminton award, Ray Scott of Papillion does–and he just got a distinguished one: induction into the USA Senior Badminton Hall of Fame…Certainly in his years of promoting badminton and… isn’t it fitting that his fellow players recognize his many contributions with a post in their Hall of Fame.”

I’ve read lots of material to prepare for this story on Ray. There’s so much to choose from.. More than the average USA badminton player knows. It’s difficult to know where to start. Maybe it should be titled Did You Know? The Top Flight Club scrapbooks and the history associated with them, all the way back to the start of Top Flight in 1960. Past correspondence. Past Midwest Badminton Association Flick issues and mention of receipt of awards in the Midwest. Past BUSA issues. I read some of his columns as executive director, saw him in many photos receiving trophies whether at Senior events or one of the 28 Ray Scott Opens, presenting trophies to winners from literally around the world (Top Flight sponsored three international competitions) or recreational badminton enthusiasts at the Nebraska State Championships or the Cornhusker State Games ( the badminton competition was always sponsored and administered by the Top Flight Badminton Club) at other competitions, always with that “well-mannered” approach that Jack Harvey referred to; presenting trophies to Borge Frederickson at the 1990 Senior Nationals, or on the BUSA magazine cover in March 1989 with Dan Bulkley in Miami Lakes or Raising the Flag at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs Dec 89/Jan 90) or retiring and being interviewed by former editor Warren Emerson in the Dec 89/Jan 90 issue, or “A Look at a true Champion” in the September 1997 Badminton News in front of the trophy case in his Papillion office. Did you know that he was one of the three competitors in the first ever Platinum Masters competition? Yessir; at the 1997 Yonex Senior Internationals in Miami Lakes with Vernon Muhr and Henry Paynter. The list goes on and on. But we have to stop somewhere, there isn’t enough space. I’ve been “pressing on” and feel my word tank running low. Maybe I’m losing my get-up-and-go. What’s that ringing I hear? No it can’t be. Ah, there it is again. Rrring, rrring, brrring. Rrring. Rrring. That’s funny. Ray doesn’t answer. Wonder why. Good heavens, I forgot. His get-up-and-go has got-up-and went. He’s been “Promoted To Glory.” His office is just as he left it the last day he walked out. Walls covered with memorabilia and dripping with nostalgia. Autobiography notes and photos in piles everywhere. The Alexander Graham Bell invention in its familiar place just waiting for him to pick it up. The huge 1969 Cadillac station wagon still resting on the black tires in the back garage area. Ray’s “get-up-and-go” was always ready. Remember Tom’s words? Close your eyes. Can you see him standing there on the other side of the net grinning from ear to ear and ready to hit that tricky serve? You had to be ready yourself because he was ready. If you knew him, then you know what I am referring to. Moreover, he was always said, “when I’m promoted to glory,” we’d have to press one without him. He’d have it no other way. So we press on. Ray, we miss your voice, your smile, your leadership and your tricky serve. May God be with you on the other side of the net.