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Ray Lau: Helping veterans

Raymond Lau, director of the Barstow Veterans Home, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii — about a mile from the beach and Waikiki.

He saw the transformation near his home of a two-lane road leading to the beach that was lined with keawe trees and other tropical shrubs to a city sky lined with high-rise buildings. Because he grew up near the beach, his favorite sports are swimming, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing.

When it came time for college, he chose a school in the Napa Valley area, Pacific Union College in Angwin. His parents were hardworking people who couldn't afford to send their son to college, so he helped out by working his way though school.

“I did receive my bachelors degree and a secondary teaching certificate,” he said. “ I received two master’s degrees in my 50s — an MBA in healthcare management from University of Phoenix and a master’s of health administration from University of La Verne. The reason for pursuing the advanced degrees was to find out why Medicare did what they did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These have helped me to become a better Director.”

Lau has three children and seven grandchildren. His eldest son is a dentist in Temecula, a daughter who is a school counselor in Beaumont. His youngest son  belongs to a Christian Rock Group performing nationally and overseas — a way to minister to young people and tell them how good it is to know the Lord. “His choice of music,”  Lau said, “is something I had to appreciate but I know he loves the Lord.”

Lau has been in long term healthcare as an administrator for about 12 years. Prior to coming to the Veterans Home of California - Barstow, he was an administrator for a multi-level healthcare facility with an Independent Living Unit, Assisted Living Unit and a Skilled Nursing Unit similar to the Barstow Veterans Home.

“By far, VHC - Barstow in the best campus I have managed,” he said. “I'm privileged and honored to serve our veterans in this manner.”

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: Spend time with family. Now our kids have families of their own. My wife, who is my best friend, and I enjoy each other’s company whether it is eating at a restaurant, traveling or shopping. We do visit our kids and grandbabies quite often. They live within an hour's drive from us.

Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: Besides the Good Lord, an owner of a real estate company taught me as a young real estate broker how to be responsible and take care of my family. Trust in the Lord but, no matter how tough it gets, you don't have time and can't dwell in self-pity. The things learned from him — respect one another, help those that are in need, trust in the Lord and provide for your family. This is a philosophy I live by and have passed this on to my co-workers.

Q: Where do you find deep satisfaction?
A: Again, the family unit is key. Watching our kids grow up to become responsible adults and having kids of their own. It's fun being grandparents. We can “spoil” the grandkids then give them back to their parents.

Q: Tell us about a happy memory in your first car.
A: It was a 1957 Chevy my Dad restored for me while I was in college in the ’60s. It wasn't fancy but he did some body work, repainted and restored the engine. When I came home one summer, I saw his restoration and thought it was a beauty. When he told me that was my car, I was blown away!

Q: Who was your hero as a kid? Do you have a hero today? (or someone you especially admire?)
A: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, Lone Ranger, Superman, etc.

Q: What's the most adventurous thing you've done?
A: My in-laws are avid mountain climbers and enjoy 10-day backpacking trips in the Cascades. When I first visited my future in-laws in Washington after my wife and I were engaged, they took me on a 10-day backpacking trip to Glacier Peak. I thought how hard that can be. Being fresh out of college where I took every swimming course for PE, did a lot of hiking and fishing when I wasn't in classes, I thought I was fit. That was the longest 10 days of my life! Carrying a 70-pound backpack and climbing Glacier Peak was an experience. After developing two giant blisters and four days of backpacking, we reached base camp. We took off at midnight so that we could summit about noon. When we reached the summit, it became the most exhilarating experience of my life. Just being up there, enjoying God's creation, seeing all the lower snowcapped peaks was worth the climb.   

Q: What makes you tick?
A: Enjoy life to the fullest, be honest and communicate with one another.

Q: If you could change one thing about Barstow today, what would it be?
A: I'm too new here. Can't think of a thing.

Q: Tell us about one thing you want to accomplish in life.
A: Really no earth shaking goals. I do want to spread a little sunshine everywhere I go.

Q: What are five things you are grateful for?
A: Good parents — taught me the value of life; proud to be an American; growing up in Hawaii and living the “Aloha Spirit” — greeting all with love, respect and having a generous spirit; having a great wife and fantastic kids and grandkids.

Q: What are your three favorite places to eat in Barstow?
A: The Firehouse, Los Domingos, Lola's, etc.

Q: How can readers get a hold of you?
A: They can call Veterans Homes of California - Barstow at (760) 252-6200.

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