Family & Friends
By Pamela Selbert
Ray and Nancy Lambertson, F318812, full-time motorhomers, are about as different as two people can be. Nancy is effervescent and chatty, while Ray is quiet and soft-spoken.
The two are so dissimilar that even the minister who married them in 1966 said he was sure it wouldn’t last, Nancy said, laughing. But, despite the fact that they had known each other for just five weeks before tying the knot, no couple could seem happier or more compatible.
They have at least one thing in common: both are animal lovers. Before they met, Ray, who is originally from Montana, enjoyed hunting deer, elk, javelina, quail, ducks “””everything we later fed in our front yard,” he said with a smile. He added that when he married Nancy, he entered the “no kill zone.” She’s vehemently opposed to the sport, which effectively ended his hunting days.
In actuality, though, it wasn’t a significant sacrifice for Ray, who made it a point to help out the deer and other critters that came to their home in Forest Lakes, Arizona, for food during winters that sometimes dropped 150 inches of snow. Their food “cost more than ours,” he said with a smile.
The couple lived in Forest Lakes until two years ago, when they became full-time motorhomers. The RV lifestyle has enabled Roy to pursue fishing whenever possible, such as on their month-long odyssey to Alaska two summers ago. Then, fishing at favorite sites in Ninilchik and along the Kenai Peninsula, he filled their 2004 40-foot Alfa See Ya motorhome’s freezers with fillets from the numerous salmon he caught, along with the 44-pound halibut he reeled in. (Ray shrugged at the seemingly impressive size, saying Alaskan halibut can weigh up to 300 pounds.) In fact, he caught so much fish that family and friends several thousand miles away were able to enjoy the bounty, which the Lambertsons shipped to them.
In addition to the raccoons, foxes, skunks, and other animals that took their meals in the Lambertsons’ yard when they lived on the wooded slopes of Arizona’s Mogollon Rim, several feral cats came for their dinner, too. Ray was able to capture two kittens in live traps and made them members of the family. Callie and Scooter “” and a third cat, Nalla, adopted from a humane society “” are also now full-time motorhomers.
Ray also trapped other feral cats that he paid to have spayed or neutered, then returned them to the wild, although he continued feeding them.
As far as full-timing goes, Ray still is not convinced that it’s the lifestyle for him, although he agreed to give it a try since Nancy is so enthusiastic about it. She claims to be a “gypsy at heart, thanks to my parents.” During her childhood, her father’s public relations work took the family all over the country, from Taylorville to Salem, Illinois; then Houston, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Birmingham, Alabama; and Little Rock, Arkansas, where she went to high school. The experiences gave her “itchy feet” and a love of travel.
Nancy and Ray had traveled extensively before buying their first motorhome, and had particularly enjoyed trips to Germany and England, and month-long vacations in Maine and the Canadian Rockies. In 1999 she made her first RV trip with two friends, a mother and daughter, in their motorhome. It was a three-week jaunt that took them to Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. The journey convinced Nancy that “RVing was the only way to go.”
Convincing Ray of the same took some doing, Nancy said, but in 2002 the couple bought their first coach, a 2000 33-foot Fleetwood Flair, to find out if that mode of travel was right for them. They spent many weeks in it, visiting Washington, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Florida, and Arizona.
“I was already thinking about full-timing,” she said with a grin. “Talking Ray into that was a little trickier.” But in 2004 they put their home on the market and sold their furniture. Now, with many of their possessions in storage, she said they “are free as birds and loving the lifestyle.”
The Lambertsons bought the Alfa See Ya in April 2004. For its maiden voyage they took it on a two-and-a-half-month, 12,000-mile trip to Alaska. They encountered a few troubles along the way, such as rough roads that were hard on the coach, and the day the living room slideout got stuck in the “out” position near Denali. But, Nancy said, it was “worth putting up with a few little problems to have this wonderful RV, with its high ceilings, wide windows, and lots of storage.”
Nancy, who shares driving duties with her husband, honed her piloting skills as an EMT driver for several years in Forest Lakes after her retirement. She recalled getting stuck in a snowbank once; fortunately, no passengers were on board at the time. With the amount of snow the area can receive, it could take hours to get to a wreck, she said, and snowmobile accidents were common. During that time she also served as treasurer of the local homeowner’s board. Both jobs were quite different from her career path.
After high school, Nancy left Little Rock for Cape Canaveral, Florida, to take an employee indoctrination job with the Titan II project. When that job ended in 1965 after two years, she decided she needed a change of scenery. Nancy had never been to Arizona, but had a favorite aunt living there. So she packed up the car and headed for Phoenix.
Eventually she took a job with AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) and was a buyer for the company for 21 years. She accepted early retirement in 1993.
In late 1965 Nancy met Ray, and they married in early 1966. This past January they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The couple has two daughters: Martie, who lives in Phoenix, and Leigh Ann, who resides outside Tampa, Florida. Each has three children.
Ray was born in Bozeman, Montana; grew up in Yakima, Washington; then left to join the Air Force at age 17, a time of his life that he still enjoys talking about. He originally was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, before being transferred to Williams Air Force Base near Chandler, both suburbs of Phoenix. He spent five-and-a-half years at Williams, reaching the rank of staff sergeant as an airborne radar technician, running a field maintenance shop. Four times he was slated to be transferred overseas to England, Germany, Japan, and Guam. “But because I was in a critical career field, maintaining aircraft used to train pilots, I was red-lined each time,” he said with a certain pride. “When you were in that line of work, they didn’t want you gone.”
Ray left the Air Force in 1959, but remained in Phoenix, taking a job with the Tolleson Police Department for two years. He then joined the Arizona Highway Patrol, where he stayed for the next 31 years.
After retiring, Ray worked for 10 years as a fire prevention technician for the U.S. Forest Service in Sitgreaves National Forest. In the summer of 2002, when the Rodeo-Chediski fire scorched more than 462,000 Arizona acres, Ray was among the first to respond to the Chediski fire.
Thirty minutes after the first sighting, the fire, fanned by a 40-mile-per-hour wind, had spread over 100 acres; an hour later it had consumed 1,000 acres; and three hours later it was burning 10,000 acres of forest, he said. Before the Rodeo fire and the Chidiski fire converged at Clay Springs, Ray said that coffee cup-size ashes were falling on the couple’s house. They and other families in the area were evacuated, and sadly, many homes were destroyed. Fortunately for Ray and Nancy, theirs was not. Ray left the Forest Service the following year.
Since then he and Nancy have covered many miles in their motorhomes, especially enjoying jaunts through Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And when they’re not traveling in the coach, they like learning more about the ins and outs of RVing through Family Motor Coaching magazine. They joined FMCA in 2002 soon after purchasing their first motorhome.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Nancy said with a smile. “I can’t imagine giving up this way of life.”
Chapter Recognizes Longtime FMCA Member
At age 88, Charles “Red” Hurlbert, L557, was presented an honorary membership to the ANASAZI chapter during the group’s rally on November 5, 2005, at White Tanks Regional Park in Waddell, Arizona. Red has been an active member of FMCA since 1964, and was a charter member of the ANASAZI chapter, located in central Arizona, which was formed in 1997.
Red has been active in all phases of ANASAZI chapter activity, but took particular interest in helping host one of the chapter’s monthly rallies and cooking for the group. At one large rally, he took great pride in cooking up a batch of stew in the huge old iron kettle he carries in his coach. Red also has a commercial-size popcorn machine installed in his motorhome, and is delighted to pop up a batch for rallies.
During the ceremony, chapter president Lael Taft, F202844, said, “It isn’t often that a chapter has a member with a number as low as L557, and it is a real pleasure to present the status of honorary membership to such a member.”
Early FMCA Officer Passes Away
Dr. William A. Powell, F1062, a former national vice president of FMCA, died unexpectedly on January 7, 2006, at his home in Millersburg, Ohio. He was 74.
Dr. Powell was born on February 16, 1931, in Washington, D.C., where he spent his youth. He graduated from William McKinley Technical High School in 1949 and attended Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, Ohio. He continued his education at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, before receiving his medical degree at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C. During that time he met and married his wife, Miriam.
After receiving his medical license, Dr. Powell served with the U.S. Public Health Service in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Detroit, Michigan, before joining his father-in-law, Dr. Neven Perry Stauffer, in private practice during the 1960s in Millersburg. He spent the rest of his medical career caring for generations of Holmes County residents. He also was one of the six founding executives of Agri-Sludge Inc., a biosolid removal service established in 1977.
Dr. Powell enjoyed traveling, and he and Miriam joined FMCA in 1966. He was elected the association’s national vice president in 1969 and served a one-year term in that position.
Dr. Powell also was active in his church and community. He was a member of the Millersburg United Methodist Church and participated in various mission projects in both North America and South America. He spent 25 years as a member of the zoning board for the village of Millersburg. He also was a past master for Spartan Lodge #126 of the Free and Accepted Masons.
In addition to his wife, Miriam, Dr. Powell is survived by his four children, William, Robert, Perri, and Laura, along with their spouses; eight grandchildren; and a sister, Kathryn, and her husband.