File - Ray Zander

Obituary - Raymond McEwen Zander
Born March 8, 1922; Died April 29, 2015
Author: Patricia Zander (niece), 03May2015
Ray was born March 8, 1922, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Martha McEwen Zander and Ellwood Allen
Zander. He died this past Wednesday evening, April 29, 2015, in his home in West Palm Beach, Florida,
attended by dear friends and a niece. The cause of his death was metastatic cancer, but it should be noted
that he remained relatively unaffected by this disease and was mostly self-dependent until less than a
month before his death.
Ray was raised just outside of Philadelphia in Rosemont. He had one brother William Douglas Zander who
was two years older than he. Both boys graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, his brother
headed off to college and Ray, after a couple of years in his father’s business, determined to enlist in the
Navy and served for one year on one of the adroit class minesweepers, Fierce AM-97, in the North Atlantic.
He was discharged after his hand was severely crushed while on deck-duty by unsecured munitions in a
rolling sea.
Following his stint with the Navy, Ray worked for 10 years in his father’s specialty meats and grocery
business, Zander’s Market of Ardmore. His father gave Ray the opportunity to succeed him in the business,
but at the age of 30 Ray felt called to the preaching tradition of his mother’s family (her uncle on her
father’s side, John Knox McEwen of the Maritimes, and her brothers, Sam and Hugh McEwen).
As a very young man while working along-side his father, Ray observed him witnessing and praying with
customers, his bible always open on the counter at the ready. When his father retired and moved with his
mother to Southeast Florida, Ray too “retired” and in 1953 launched a full-time ministry, traveling
endlessly to spread the gospel news of our Savior’s redeeming love and grace. He dedicated every aspect
of his life going forward to the Lord’s work, discerning that not everyone is called by our Lord to marriage.
In his early preaching years he was a sensation: a handsome man with winsome smile, fine singing voice
and encyclopedic command of the scriptures. As Ray’s emerging preaching abilities became more tested
and true, he went on to preach alongside formidable men including: J. T. Dickson, Gordon Reager, Paul
Plubell, Robert Crawford, George Baldwin, Oswald McLead, Fred Swartz, Ed Richmond and Edwin
He was never affiliated with any mainline denomination, bible chapel, or Christian group, but was instead
a guest preacher at various church gatherings and missions across the States and in the Caribbean. He
delivered bibles and evangelized to people near and far in need of Christ’s message, including Inagua,
Jamaica, Cuba, Guatemala, Valaam, Moscow, Switzerland, Corinth, Egypt, and Israel. He stated with some
modesty that he had served the Lord in 36 different countries.
One great mystery for many who knew him was that he never took a collection at any service where he
was in attendance or where he preached, or even asked for donations to support his ministry. It was
through the extreme generosity of people of faith, sometimes non-believers or even strangers, who
sensed the importance of this earthly mission, that he rarely went without food, shelter or clothing, or
even means of transport. Anyone who has ever spent time with Ray has been humbled by his unwavering
trust in God’s provision.
But his life in traveling ministry was not always easy and it is believed that he spent periods in deprivation,
although he never once asserted this. He was unfailingly courteous, even on his death bed, when at one
point he began to suffer gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, immediately thanking those who rushed to attend
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Obituary - Raymond McEwen Zander
Born March 8, 1922; Died April 29, 2015
Author: Patricia Zander (niece), 03May2015
to him. He resisted pain medication up until the last 24 hours of his life and never once said that he was
in pain. It is only through God’s mercy that many of the loving people present at his bedside were medical
professionals able to recognize the severity of his discomfort, insisting that he allow them to intercede.
At the age of 80 Ray began to write poems and at the time of his death had delivered 11 separate volumes,
copies of which he distributed to everyone he encountered. Many who knew Ray well regard these poems
as the spirit-filled manifestation of his life-long biblical studies, to which he employed acrostics to tie key
words and ideas to places in the scripture, working to cross-reference Christian doctrine as he knew it to
be revealed in both the Old and New Testament. These poetry books can be used as simple guidebooks
on how to live a Christian life, but also contain nuggets of biblical commentary and citations to inspire
Christians to delve deeper into their formation through bible study. And he also lovingly acknowledged
people he encountered and places he visited in many of these poems, even trees like the famous Giant
California Redwood, “General Sherman”, which he featured to introduce important “trees of the bible”,
including the one upon which Christ was crucified.
Those who encountered Ray often witnessed an inspired demonstration of Christ’s self-sacrificial love.
Ray’s ministry and outreach to others, although he never spoke of it, is thought to have naturally changed
over the years. Although not an exhaustive list, we believe that he may have most recently been in support
of the following efforts:
56th St. Gospel Chapel (Tampa)
Caribbean Fund
Immanuel Mission (Arizona)
Rest Haven Homes (Michigan)
Christian Missions in Many Lands
Interest Ministries
Outstretched Hands
Refuge Ranch (Okeechobee)
Eagles Nest
Agape Home (Moore Haven, Florida)
Dunklin Memorial Church (Camp) Rehab (Okeechobee)
various emergency needs in disaster-torn areas, (e.g., Hurricane Francis)
Ray embraced life and all the people put in his path. Although we know that he has now earned his final
reward and that we will be reunited one day, his death he has left a hole in our earthly hearts --- we miss
a number of things including an irresistible charm that often led us to join him in high-adventure, and of
course his artfully dispassionate sense of humor.
He is survived by his nieces Patricia Joan Zander of Manhattan, Deborah Sue Denis of Atlanta, Georgia,
and his nephew William Douglas Zander, Jr., of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, children of his late brother,
William Douglas Zander. Please access for funeral information.
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