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Staff photo / Bob Coupland
Ray Beish, the new manager of the Howland SCOPE Center, spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and has visited 34 countries. As a truck driver for 17 years, he has gone through all but two states.

HOWLAND — The new Howland SCOPE Center manager has visited all but two states and 34 countries during his 20 years of military service and 17 years on the road as a truck driver.

Ray Beish was named Howland SCOPE Center director in April.

He said he misses the traveling of both careers.

“People may say truck driving is the same day after day, but it is not. Based on traffic and based on weather, every day is different. You meet so many people,” he said.

“Being in the military, everyone is from somewhere. When you are on a military base, you meet people from everywhere. Even when I was driving truck, I always felt like I belonged no matter where I was,” he said.

The Warren resident was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Youngstown. After graduating from South High School in 1968, Beish went to Youngstown State University and then entered the military in 1969.

“Instead of waiting for the draft, I went and entered the Air Force,” Beish said.

He was stationed in California for 15 months, which he said was challenging. But he also was deployed to Greece and Germany, as well as Egypt, the Mediterranean and Yugoslavia.

Twelve of his Air Force years were spent in social education. He took social psychology studies from the Community College of The Air Force in Dayton.

Beish said he is proud to have served in the military and is a member of the VFW in Vienna.

“There is nothing not to be proud of being a veteran. They are treating the Vietnam veterans better now then at the time when we came back. We were called names and spit on. I am glad that they are finally recognizing the veterans for the sacrifices that they made. When I go places and people find out I am with the military, they thank me. That makes me feel good,” Beish said.

After the Air Force, Beish worked briefly in retail at a Walmart store in Texas before he came back to Ohio to be a truck driver.

“I loved it. As a truck driver, I was more my own boss. I scheduled when to pick up and when to deliver, I often trained other people in the truck with me. It was an interesting job, and I enjoyed it,” Beish said.

Traveling through other states let him see that Ohio has a lower cost of living than most.

“Between the military and also being a truck driver, I have been to many places. I was everywhere from Massachusetts to California. The truck driving and the military got me everywhere,” Beish said.

He also has been to every state except Washington and Oregon, which are on his bucket list. He said his favorite state for trucking was Colorado because of the scenery. He said he also likes the mountains in Montana and West Virginia.

“I love the Rocky Mountains, but I also love the beaches, too,” he said.

Beish said his least-favorite state is California because it has too many rules, especially for driving.

He also worked five years at the trucking company in the office in safety and orientation. When the pandemic hit, the safety department was closed and in May 2020, Beish was let go through downsizing at the North Jackson location.

He started with SCOPE as a volunteer and was encouraged to apply for the manager position in Howland.

“I was looking for something to do. I walked into SCOPE one day and met (former director) Mike Wilson and spoke with him. It has all worked out for the good ever since,” he said.

Beish said the local seniors want to get out of the house and doing things.

“The center was closed for a year and a half, and it is now like starting all over again from scratch to open again,” he said.

“We are starting to open up, but we can’t open up fully yet. It will begin to pick up with activities in July,” Beish said. “I open up what I can when I can. People are anxious and want to get out of their houses. I am still working at both locations. I am spending four hours here and four hours in Warren. I will be getting some help starting in July.”

The most popular program is bocce, he said.

“People missed bocce last year. They did not have it at all. I now have 79 players on Tuesdays at the bocce courts by the school. We maintain them,” he said.

He said he works with volunteers at the Howland SCOPE Center with two people running the bocce leagues.

“I can’t say enough about the volunteers,” he said.

Beish was recognized this year as one of the outstanding volunteers by SCOPE’s parent organization, Family and Community Services.

“If I can help others and make a positive difference to just one person, I have accomplished something,” he said.

Beish support during the AARP free tax preparations and restart of the Warren center will bode well for his experience to get Howland up and running quickly

“I look forward to the next 20 years,” he said.

He said he enjoys going to the beach with his wife, Carolyn, and he also spends time reading.

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