ELBERTON, Ga. — LaVerne Anne Rayno, of Elberton, Georgia, passed away on Aug. 18, 2019 at 11 p.m. She was 87 years old. Born at Mary McLellan Hospital in Cambridge, she spent her early years in Salem on her uncle Robert Thompson’s farm, a place that held many of her fondest memories, along with the Allen farm on Route 22, north of Hebron, where she would spend summers. She never had the chance to know her father, for whom she was named, Laverne Loveland, who died in a tragic hunting accident 7 1/2 months before she was born. Her mother, Lena Loveland, later Lena Gibbs, taught school at Chamberlain Mills and Hebron in Washington County.
LaVerne began elementary school at Washington Academy in Salem and subsequently went to school in Sherman, Connecticut, followed by schools in the New York towns of Glens Falls, Hartford, Oneonta and Hudson Falls. She graduated from Hudson Falls High School in 1949. She then went to Union University Nursing School at the Albany Medical School.
Her nursing studies were interrupted when she married her high school sweetheart, Paul Joseph Rayno, on Feb. 25, 1951. Paul had already joined the Air Force, and they were married by a justice of the peace in Biloxi, Mississippi, near Keesler Air Force Base where Paul was stationed. In 1953, Paul was transferred to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, and they lived in nearby Spenard.
Their return to Hudson Falls in the spring of 1955 was a harrowing, seven-week trip with numerous road washouts along the Alaskan Highway, due to record rainfall, and countless vehicle breakdowns. Paul and LaVerne settled down in Hudson Falls, where they would live for the next 41 years. After living for a short time with Paul’s parents, LeRoy and Gertrude Rayno, they bought a house of their own at 51 William St.
LaVerne’s years in Hudson Falls were active ones. She raised her three boys (Paul, born 1952; Don, 1955; and Peter, 1960), before returning to complete her nursing training to become a registered nurse. She worked at private doctors’ practices and at Glens Falls Hospital, where, with her considerable nursing experience and conscientiousness in caring for patients, she rose to a supervisory role, specializing in end-of-life care and working with AIDS patients.
She was also very active at Hudson Falls United Methodist Church, where she was a faithful member of the church choir. Each year on Christmas Eve, she and her close friend Thelma Rose would sing a duet, Thelma singing alto and LaVerne singing with a lovely, gentle soprano that sounded almost angelic.
LaVerne was an avid and skilled gardener and raised beautiful vegetables and flowers. Nothing made her happier than to be out planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. Her garden chores greatly expanded when she and Paul purchased a large, hilly, wooded tract in the Blind Buck area of Salem. They constructed a cabin there, and adjacent to the cabin established a large garden with a high fence to keep the deer out. The Salem property became a special retreat for them both.
Cooking was also one of LaVerne’s great skills. Her shelves were filled with scores of cookbooks. She baked wonderful pies and cakes and prepared many delicious main dishes. She preserved large quantities of fruits and vegetables by canning and freezing, and was locally known for her unique lasagna, always a big hit at the annual church bazaar, and for her Christmas fruitcakes, which she gave out to friends and family each December. She was one of a dedicated team that cooked large vats of clam chowder each year to be sold to benefit the church.
LaVerne was a voracious reader, especially of mysteries, local history and biographies. With a good book in front of her, perhaps with a sandwich or snack to go with it, she could be content for hours.
Summers for Paul, LaVerne and the boys were spent at Garnet Lake in the Adirondacks, camping in primitive-style in tents at a special point on the lake where four generations of Raynos have camped. These were always special extended family gatherings, pets and all, including their beloved dog, Corny. Some summers, cottages were rented on Glen Lake, and for some entire summers at Trout Lake, which LaVerne particularly loved. Paul and LaVerne often traveled to points of interest in the Northeast with their closest couple friends, Bob and Thelma Rose and Basil and Marge Jones.
In 1996, Paul and LaVerne moved down to Georgia, where Paul established Astrel, Inc., a business that manufactures material for medical catheters, which after Paul’s retirement, is now run by his son Peter. They settled in Elberton, a small town in the northeastern part of the state. Moving from the north to the south was quite an adjustment, but they began a new phase of their lives in this different climate and culture.
LaVerne overcame many hardships and obstacles in her life. These served to make her a woman of considerable fortitude and endurance, with a strong sense of love, duty, and responsibility. She readily made many sacrifices for her husband and boys, and was a blessing to many wherever she lived. LaVerne was especially dedicated to her family — sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and her great-grandson, all of whom will miss her greatly.
The family is deeply thankful for the many caregivers who gave such wonderful care to LaVerne in her time of need: Pam, Phyllis, and Dedra with Home Instead; Hospice staff: Debora, Amber, Jean, Charlotte, Rashay and Chad; and Ginger, an independent caregiver.
LaVerne is survived by her husband of 68 years, Paul J. Rayno; one brother, Arthur J. Gibbs Jr.; three sons, Paul C. (Chris) Rayno of Whitesboro, Donald R. (Cindy) Rayno of Cary, North Carolina and Peter W. Rayno of Elberton, Georgia; three granddaughters, Valerie Engel, Amelia Rayno and Jennifer (Edward) Benn; and one great-grandson, Alexander Benn.
A service of remembrance will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Berry Funeral Home, 1265 Washington Highway, Elberton, GA 30635. Floral arrangements are accepted and may be sent to the funeral home.
Berry Funeral Home of Elberton, Georgia is respectfully in charge of arrangements.