in the Field of Blindness and Visual Impairment
Born 8-18-1930 - Died 12-10-2007
Sherry Raynor was born Sherry Diane Nevins on August 18, 1930 to James Cyril Nevins and Ebba Ebbesen Nevins. She grew up in the Depression in the Upper Peninsula. She was the granddaughter of emigrants from Sweden and Norway on her mother’s side and was of Irish descent on her father’s side. She is the older sister of Christine Nevins Ronan.
When she was in her high school years, Sherry and her family moved to South Haven, Michigan. She was their Peach Queen and she graduated from high school in 1948.
In 1949, she met and married Robert Storrer and they settled in Owosso, Michigan. They had three children: Robert, Christine and Sandra.
She met my father Louis Raynor, when she was studying art classes at Michigan State University, where he was a professor in ceramics. In 1959, she married Dad and they had three children: Ebba, Nels and Beatrice. They settled in Okemos.
When I was born, the family had to make significant adjustments, since I was born without eyes. Mom was tireless in looking for services to help me cope. But, she also encouraged the rest of the family and herself to let me live a nearly normal life. Often were the times when I would help with cake baking, picking out vegetables and other things in the kitchen, just so I could learn.
Mom received a degree in education when I was little, and went to work for Ingham Intermediate School district, first as a homebound teacher, and later to head up its pre-school program for the blind in 1971, on the campus of Michigan School for the Blind. She continued as its director until 1979. In the fall of that year, she moved to the Perkins Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts to continue her work until she resigned in 1983, so that she could devote more time to her own private non-profit organization, the International Institute for Visually Impaired.
In 1979, Mom, along with a small group of friends, started the International Institute for the Visually Impaired, Inc., which later became the Blind Children’s Fund. This was an institute that provided information for parents to help their pre-school blind children to function independently as much as possible in a world where they could not see. This meant that Mom would have to start traveling in earnest to gather what information she could and so that she could participate in studies going on. She published two books for parents and teachers called “Get a Wiggle On” and “Move It”. I believe these were the first two books available in Braille for parents and teachers who were blind who had pre-schoolers. The International Institute for Visually Impaired changed its name to Blind Children’s Fund in the late 90’s.
Mom loved being there for her children. I remember her always trying to make the time to attend our Christmas programs at school and church, track meets and football games, plays, band, orchestra and choir concerts and art shows. Even when we were grown and moved away, Mom still would come to anything we were doing if she had the time.
Mom loved Art. She loved making pewter jewelry, benches with small ceramic tiles on them and small clay owls. However, she excelled in pottery after retiring from the Blind Children’s Fund in 2001.
Mom loved to travel. She made several excursions to Mexico where she studied Spanish and began collecting masks. She’s also been to Russia, Israel, Denmark, England, Germany and Australia, just to name a few places, due to her work. She was planning on going to Vietnam this year.
Most of all, Mom loved getting away from life whenever she had a chance. She often would go visit my father until his passing in 1999 in the small town of Leland, where he retired. Often, she could be seen working on art, collecting stones, walking, cooking for Dad and herself, and basically thinking.
Mom was preceded in death by her parents, both her former husbands, various aunts, uncles and cousins. She is survived by her sister Christine, all her children, two stepsons Raymond and Fletcher, eight grand children and eight great-grandchildren.