Advice From World War II Naval Veteran: Keep the Mind and Body Active

Written by Fred Shapiro on . Posted in Features

Times were different when Ray Kurlander turned 17. World War II was on, and at an age when teenagers would normally be living care-free, Ray decided to join the U.S. Navy. His upbringing in a Jewish community informed his attitude during his military service (and, indeed, his life) that what you do for others is most important and should be done with humility. And he has lived up to these principles — during his time in the Navy, in his professional career, and in his service for Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) and his community at Leisure World in Rockville, Maryland.

Ray was born in New York City and grew up in the Bronx, where he attended Newtown High School. After basic training for the Navy, he was ultimately assigned to a destroyer, Escort 147, which was active in the Atlantic Ocean war zone. During his two-and-a-half years aboard the ship, he participated in sinking five German submarines. Upon his discharge from the Navy at the age of 21, he was awarded five medals for his service, including the Victory Medal, Atlantic-European Service Medal, and a medal for  good conduct.

Ray went on to earn an accounting degree from the Stern School of Business at New York University, followed by a five-year stint as senior accountant in the comptrollers division of Pan American World Airways. He gained management experience at Brookings Institute and Planning Executives Institute, followed by 30 years with the Civil Aeronautics Board, first as an investigator/auditor and subsequently as comptroller. He was responsible for all oral and written testimony on agency appropriations before Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and internal accounting for the agency.

After retirement, Ray spent three years serving as the treasurer for the city of Alexandria, Virginia.

Ray moved to Leisure World 14 years ago and has been an active resident. Residing in Fairways North, he served as treasurer for the condo association from 2007 to 2016. As a member of the building’s board of directors from 2005 until 2016, he chaired the budget and finance committee for four years. He served in an advisory position with the Montgomery County Commission on Aging and was chapter president and budget officer for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). In his free time, he volunteered at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, Ray is an active member of Leisure World’s camera club, a golfer, and a bridge player, in addition to serving three terms as commander of Jewish War Veterans Charles Krieger Post 567. He is currently treasurer of Post 567.

When asked what advice he could give to newly retired men and women, he suggested to play golf to keep the body in good condition, play bridge and/or take photos to keep the mind active, and, most of all, join an organization — religious, political, or a particular activity or subject of interest. Most importantly, keep your mind and body active. Don’t sit in a corner with nothing to do.

Fred Shapiro is currently the president of the Leisure World Center for Lifelong Learning and adjutant for the Jewish War Veterans Post 567. He served as religious chair and president of the Jewish Residents of Leisure World and recently completed service on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

By Fred Shapiro