Unsung HeroesRevealing the Remarkable in Seemingly Ordinary People
Ray McCall considers herself incredibly fortunate for choosing her parents, both forward thinking individuals who instilled in her and her brother the belief that "you get out of life what you put into it."
A much-retired teacher of many years, repeatedly requested to return to teaching as need arose in the local schools, it could be said that there is no long-term resident of Narrogin who has not, at some time, been taught by Ray McCall.
As well as the demands of her teaching career and those of a family life with her husband and their two daughters, there was extended family to care for; uncle Jack Holdaway, who had worked on the McCall family farm for most of his life, (he came for a weekend and stayed for ten years) her cousin Fay Bracegirdle's two teenage sons who returned to Australia from the Philippines to live with them for five years to do their Secondary schooling and finally and generally, her brother-in-law Ross, who shore with her husband.
Ray adored with a passion her late husband (who died aged 60 in 1990) even when she occasionally wanted to kill him - particularly when he invited all and sundry home to meals without giving her much notice. He was wont to say "How did you meet your wife? I bought mine" which he did. Married in 1952 when Ray finished her Teacher training, he had to pay back her bond (the amount it cost to train her) to the Education Department as no woman working in a Government Department was allowed to work once married. This rule was changed two years later.
Ray loves and is proud of her two daughters, one an academic and successful painter and printmaker, the other a terrific mother, grandma and great grandmother, also a talented quilt maker and embroiderer.
Now determinedly retired from teaching at 80, Ray is still giving back to the Narrogin community, helping to organise various functions and fund-raising. She is Chairperson of the Hotham Trust which assists disabled students and adults to access training or help to achieve work suited to their capabilities. Frequently asked to address groups and organisations, Ray has a fund of teacher, farming and medical jokes with which to likes to begin.
In her own words "There have been ups and downs but I would not change any part of my life. I feel I still have much to learn and do. I am no saint and I have probably raised hell on various occasions but I enjoy life as it comes."
Revealing the remarkable in seemly ordinary people
Portrait painted by Graham Smith 2020.
Text compiled by Jan Smith from notes provided with the nomination in 2020.