In October 1998, a suspicious shadow appeared on an x-ray of Ray's right lung. After a myriad of tests during November and December, he underwent open lung biopsy on January 7, 1999. After the biopsy showed malignant cancer, the lower lobes of the right lung were removed. Post-operatively, Ray progressively developed myriad complications including pneumonia and a collapsed right lung. On January 12th, Ray developed ARDS. He was deeply sedated, placed into a drug-induced paralyzed state and on a ventilator. While he was brought off the deep sedation on January 16th, he never regained conciousness. He progressively suffered from severe infections and by the 17th had begun to suffer major organ failure, increasing tissue breakdown, internal bleeding, two strokes, and irregular heartbeat that required several electroshock treatments in an attempt to restore a regular heartbeat. On January 25th, he suffered a seizure with several more occurring over the next day. Renal failure set in on January 27th and soon thereafter necrosis overtook both his feet. Ray underwent a dialysis session on January 29th, only to once again suffer a seizure. He had a second dialysis session during the day on January 30th, but by the evening he was rapidly failing. His wife, Jackie, daughter, Diana, and stepdaughter, Shelle, were with him during the last hour of his life. Jackie held his hand and described to him in great detail a beautiful bicycle ride down the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. She talked to him about the many great trips they had taken together, while he slipped away from life. At 11:20pm on January 30th, Ray passed away.

Ray was born August 12, 1933, in Long Beach, California.    We were married on August 12, 1993, in Sedona, Arizona. His birthday was chosen so he could remember future anniversaries!

Ray had been retired from the North Las Vegas Fire Department for nearly 15 years and had always wanted to do some "serious" traveling. So we bought a 5th wheel and a truck to pull it, and took some wonderful summer trips.

Ray had lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1957 and 1958 when it was still a territory and he loved it there. He had built a house and bought a truck to haul trailers from Indiana to Anchorage and Fairbanks on the old Alcan Highway. He wanted to show me Alaska so our first trip was in that direction. By the time we got to "Milepost Zero" at Dawson Creek we decided it was too late in the season to continue to Alaska so we changed destination to Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. We dined on caribou steaks and caribou stew and caribou burgers. We tried muskox and munched on bannocks and Eskimo donuts. We devoured fresh whitefish and chips and saskatoon pie. Ray kept a wonderful detailed journal with an entry for nearly every day of that trip and I had fun writing poems along the way

The next summer we spent on the eastcoast, in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The next two trips were the Alaska adventures. Ray kept a daily journal with the last entry reading, 'Friday, October 17, Day 146. We left Death Valley early for Las Vegas and the end of a wonderful trip.'

Ray was one for keeping journals! His first 'Exercise Journal' was started when he was in his 30's. He logged in nearly 100,000 miles of running and bicycling. He ran and rode in marathons. He pedaled his bike across Death Valley for 228 miles in 28 hours and 50 minutes for Muscular Dystrophy. He had challenged experienced riders to take that trip with the hopes of raising $100 a mile for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. He rode his bike from Las Vegas to Yuma, Arizona, and back. Again, from Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Las Vegas. He pedaled down the Washington/Oregon/California coast more than once. He did a lot of 'hundred milers.' He also took trips that were as long as 650 miles.

He wrote a page about his exercise program for a family book that was eventually published. It is quoted here in the hopes that his challenge might continue and reach someone who reads this memorial."

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'The following statistics are offered and submitted by Ray Binder as a challenge to succeeding generations to duplicate or exceed.

I am beginning a third decade in a rigorous exercise program begun at age thirty-six.

The first twenty-one years include 30,000 miles running and 50,000 miles bicycling. Seven marathons commencing at age forty-four; the first a three hour thirty minute pace and the last at a pace of three hours and two minutes. (6.57 per mile.)

A 'streak' of six and a half consecutive years averaging ten miles per day.

spacerMost miles in a day - 30
spacerMost miles in a week - 120
spacerMost miles in a month - 450
spacerMost miles in a year - 4450

spacerFastest single mile: 5.29

Bicycling data includes a 34 mile per day average and a total of 12,436 miles the same year. Longest single daily ride is 201 miles from Las Vegas to 29 Palms, California, in fourteen hours and thirty minutes. A race from Scotty's Castle in Death Valley to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for 225 miles in 17 hours and 50 minutes.

Existing elapsed time record from Boulder City, Nevada, to Las Vegas in 46:42.7 minutes on a tandem bicycle.

The information offered must not be construed as bravado, but as a challenge and as evidence of a satisfying life style that isn't difficult to achieve with determination.

Your body and mind will thank you.'

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"Ray was an adventurous man and had a wonderful subtle sense of humor. Some of his life-long friends shared a few funny stories at his memorial service.

One story was about the time he rented a little Piper Cub airplane although he had no pilot's license. He wasn't very high above the ground when a buzzard flew through the windshield, breaking the glass and causing Ray to crash in a corn field. He walked away unhurt.

I remember one from when we were 'courting.' Ray loved to play cards. He decided one day to teach me tournament gin. Well, I was a bit 'rusty' at cards then but I was winning every hand! That went on for quite a while-he kept our scores in a log book and my scores were almost always higher than his. He acted terribly embarrassed and asked me to promise that I wouldn't tell any of the guys at work that I was winning all of these card games because it would ruin his reputation. So, I didn't say a word. Later on though, after we had been married for a while, I found out he had let me win all those games. Of all the hundreds of card games we played after that I never won again!

During the years he worked at the fire department he also was a Clark County Deputy Coroner. He continued with that work after he left the fire service. He loved his work there and was one of their best investigators. He had a great compassion for the families when he had to notify them of the death of a relative or friend. And he found handling crime or death scenes challenging.

It was during the years of working both jobs that the terrible MGM Hotel fire took place. That was in 1980. Ray assisted in getting 75 people off the roof of the MGM Hotel. He worked the fire from 7am till 3pm that Friday. Then he began his duties as coroner-investigator that afternoon, removing the bodies from the hotel. By Monday morning he left with the last body from the roof of the MGM Hotel via Metro P.D. helicopter. By mid-week he had completed identification and notifications to the next of kin of the victims.

Ray was a man of integrity. He received the respect of his coworkers and friends. He was kind and compassionate and he tried to help people. He had a great sense of duty. He was dependable and protective of those he loved. And he had a wonderful sense of humor. In addition he was a very sentimental person. He touched many lives and many will miss him.

The journals he left behind are a wonderful legacy that his family will treasure. The writings reveal to future generations the inner being of a very gentle man."

Jackie Rodack Binder
Las Vegas, Nevada
March 1999