It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our dear friend and founder, Ray Gawendo. Ray died on Tuesday, April 3 in Norwich, Connecticut. She was 103 years old. Ray was a proud supporter and adviser of the Preservation Society. We will miss her.
Ray was born in Minsk, Russia, lived in Vilna, Poland (today, Vilnius, Lithuania). She survived the Holocaust after being imprisoned in the Vilna Ghetto and then taken to the Klooga labor camp in Estonia. She was one of the few survivors of that camp. After WWII, Ray settled in Moosup, Connecticut where she and her husband, Jacob, owned and operated a chicken farm. She did not speak of her experiences during the Holocaust until much later in her life when she became an inspiration to many middle and high school students to whom she spoke about the consequences of hatred and intolerance.