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Marie Raymus carries on legacy of helping
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Marie Raymus displays an oil painting she created for her husband Antone’s Fathers’ Day gift in 2004 that he didn’t live to see. It was mounted on his office wall on Fathers’ Day by family members after his death. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Manteca developer Antone “Tony” Raymus brought his bride Marie to Manteca from the Azores over 50 years ago for the beginning of a love story that continues today even after his death some six years ago.

It was their passion to help the Manteca children who they witnessed falling through the cracks in school that gave birth to the Give Every Child a Chance (GECAC) tutoring program that is now helping as many as 4,000 children a year.

In a final outward sign of her love for her husband, Marie responded to his request to take out her oils and paint him a peaceful landscape – something she had not done for years. It was a painting that he could put on his real estate office wall behind his desk.

He would never see that painting, succumbing from a heart attack in April 2004 with Fathers’ Day two months away.  After his death, Marie painstakingly finished that artwork in oils and on Fathers’ Day, in a small family ceremony, it was mounted on the wall behind his desk where it still hangs today.

Marie now not only carries on her husband’s passion for helping children and families,  but she also heads up the Raymus Development and Sales operation with offices in the 500 block of East Yosemite Avenue. The firm pioneered subdivision building and sales in Manteca under her husband’s leadership.

She said she has carried on the tutoring program from her heart and in Tony’s memory.  “He asked me to continue to help keep the program going after his death,” she said.

She added that she now regrets not having become a part of the business early on when he asked her to be involved and learn the ins and outs of the real estate operation.  She felt it was her job to be at home with the children and to serve as one of the Manteca Hospital Pink Ladies – a tenure of 21 years.

Following her husband’s passing, she took business classes that allowed her to better understand the physical workings of the business and manage its many employees.  She is now working some 65 hours a week with her day beginning at 5 a.m. and often continuing long past dark.

Give Every Child marks 13 years
Marie remembers former Manteca High Principal Bill Jones being a big help to them  in getting the GEAC program up and running.  She said they visited area schools and were awed when principals would tell them they already could point out the boys and girls who were not going to make the grade.

“We have been open 13 years now,” she said of the Raymus-born tutoring program.  “I used to be there with Tony and they would send us kids who were not doing well in their school work.”

There were as few as 12 students at the onset of the program that is still partially funded by the Raymus Foundation,  having grown to more than 50 individual sites in Manteca, Ripon, French Camp, Lathrop, Tracy, Escalon, Merced, Weston Ranch and Tuolumne County – all concerned with what is best for kids.

That foundation, that was begun in 1990,  also makes possible high school scholarships for area students every year.

Marie remembers when their three kids would come home for school and they would need a snack before doing their homework – it was never sweets – rather fruit like oranges, apples or apple juice.

The  same philosophy was used for the snacks at the tutoring sites and never involved treats with a sugar base, instead it would be something natural providing the energy they needed after an already long school day.

She said they had to make sure the children had their snacks before tutoring sessions, because it wasn’t clear whether they had even had breakfast at the beginning of their day.  It wasn’t long before the original 12 students had grown to some 200, she added.

The free tutoring organization first made use of the vacant Raymus-owned Manteca News building in the 500 block of East Yosemite Avenue – just across the street from the real estate offices.  

Volunteer tutors – retired teachers, older students, and business professionals – responded to a Raymus call for help and other sites were established in churches and on school sites and even in private homes throughout the Manteca area.

More and more students were saved over the past dozen plus years  from falling through those cracks in their educational learning.  The tutors have also experienced the thrill of seeing a child “click” in the understanding of a lesson they are teaching them. The self-confidence that the students are gaining in the process is said to be awesome.

The Raymus Foundation that she oversees also supports the St. Vincent De Paul Society operation that is still going strong located on the grounds of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Manteca.  Raley’s Market has been a big contributor in food products that are given to those in need, a contact made early on by the Raymuses.  Marie remembers the owner of the Raley’s coming to see them personally and pledging his firm’s support.

Two other Raymus ventures included the El Rancho Mobile Home Park on Yosemite Avenue near Highway 99 and the Manteca Bowl and Fund Center.

In his later years Tony Raymus played cards with his friends almost every day at the mobile home park where he had seen a need for the retirement community.   The bowling alley and Family Fun Center was another passion where he wanted to provide a recreation element for children, teens and adults to be able to spend family time in the community.

Tony and Marie spent quality time together, she recalls, and went to the inauguration and ball for President George H.W. Bush in Washington, D.C.   They would also attend some three conferences a year in the nation’s capital.