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Park and Recreation

Posted on: July 21, 2022

Ray Halvorsen: Supervisor, Public Works Director Remembered


Raymond Halvor Halvorsen, who served for as a West Goshen Supervisor and as the Township’s Public Works Director for fifteen years, was born in Flushing, New York on April 14, 1951. But the story of his connection to the town that would help define him…and that he would help to define…begins thirteen years later when his family moved to West Goshen Township. Upon enrolling at Stetson Middle School, the affable Halvorsen had no problems finding friends, a talent he carried with him for the rest of his life. One classmate he met who would remain friends for the rest of his life was Ed Smith. At Henderson High School, Ray and Ed and fellow friends Dave Loomis and Tommy Hoopes decided to put together a band with Ray as lead singer. The band went through several iterations over the next few years with Ray and Ed’s friendship and Ray’s vocals as constants. “Ray’s voice sounded so good we used him for everything, not realizing it’s good to mix up the vocals and give the lead singer a bit of a rest,” says Smith. “His voice started burning out. He had to get out of the band in 1972.”

The year before Ray left the band while performing at the Fireside Hearth in Springfield, Ray met Marie Luciano, whom he would marry and live with for 49 years until his passing this July. His cowboy hat, tasseled leather jacket, and boots made an impression on Marie…and on her father, who dubbed him with the nickname “Colonel Custer.”

While Ray was in high school at Henderson his mother Frances began working for West Goshen Township. She would go on to hold numerous jobs serving in their new hometown, including bookkeeper, over nineteen years. This helped instill in Ray a love for West Goshen Township, and a sense of public service that would become a central focus of his life. After graduating from Brandywine Junior College, Ray dedicated his time to building his business Alpha Business Forms from the ground up. He involved himself in his community by becoming active with the Elks, the American Legion, and serving as Worshipful Master of the West Chester Freemasons.

In January 1986 Ray joined the West Goshen Planning Commission, and in July 1987 was appointed to the Board of Supervisors, replacing long-time Supervisor J. Leon Hagerty. While others may have been intimidated stepping into the shoes of someone with the tenure and stature of Hagerty, Ray immediately took to his new role.

“He was a dedicated resident of West Goshen Township who always wanted to see us as THE place to live,” recalls West Goshen Police Chief Michael P. Carroll. According to fellow Supervisor Edward G. Meakim, Jr., Ray was instrumental in the development of West Goshen Community Park, the acquisition of Cloud Park, the expansion of the Sewer Plant, and the construction of the West Goshen Municipal Complex. In his role as Supervisor liaison to the Police Department, Ray advocated for an expanded, well-trained force with top-notch recruits. “He wanted to get guys who really wanted to be police,” emphasizes Meakim. As a politician, Halvorsen established a reputation as someone who let his thoughts be known and was true to his word. “He was always honest and to the point. He didn’t beat around the bush. If he said he’d go with me on something, I had no doubt. If he said he was against it, I had no doubt. His word was gospel,” says Meakim.

Halvorsen also used his comfort in the spotlight to serve as a de-facto spokesman for West Goshen Township. “He was such a polished speaker,” recalls Ed Smith. Ed Meakim elaborates, “He was good at speaking off the cuff.”

As a father, Halvorsen enjoyed going to ice hockey and Little League games. In 1993, he was contacted by his friend Ed Smith to help coach a Little League team both their sons were on. “We coached thirteen to fourteen years together from that time on,” says Smith. Ed Smith recalled how they developed a “good guy/bad guy” dynamic with their teams, with Smith offering words of encouragement and Halvorsen pushing for improvements. Ray recognized Ed’s commitment to the community, team mentality, and willingness to roll up his sleeves and perform the thankless tasks needed to serve the greater good by recommending that Smith be appointed to the West Goshen Park and Recreation Board in 1997, a position that Smith still serves in to this day.

In July 2001 Halvorsen stepped down from the Board of Supervisors to become the Township’s Public Works Director, a position he would serve in until 2016. During that time, he oversaw the construction of a new Public Works Building. “What a job he did as Public Works Director,” points out Meakim. “He made that department very professional. He put some good people in places of importance.”

In January 2012 Ray Halvorsen rejoined the Board of Supervisors and served until January 2017. He spent his years afterwards focusing on family, operating mowers for his son’s landscaping business, and reveling in the role of being a grandfather. “He always said a body in motion stays in motion. I had a hard time keeping up with him,” recalls Ed Smith. Ray died at the age of 71 on July 3, 2022 with his wife Marie, his daughter Christy, his sons Matt and Michael, and his brother Don and sister-in-law Cindy by his side. Those who know him best say his legacy was forged in the friendships he made and in his dedication to West Goshen Township.

“He was very loyal. If he was your friend, you couldn’t ask for a better friend,” points out Ed Smith. 

“His support and love of West Goshen Township will always be missed,” says Chief Carroll.

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