Not too many of my classmates stopped by on a regular basis after graduation but Ray Neihengen was the exception. His banking business often brought him to Southern California working with the aerospace industry. He had known Carol as well, so we looked forward to his visits. Now that our #2 son (and Double Domer) is the CFO of the Walsh Group in Chicago, we try to have lunch with Ray and Kathy on our regular visits to see the grandkids in the Windy City. Ray and I were among the 34 Notre Dame Niles graduates and Ray is, in fact, the chairman of the upcoming 50th NDHS reunion scheduled for the week between Miami and Stanford.

Neihengens in TahitiOur latest visit was special, though, as Ray and Kathy stopped in LA on their way to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. They flew on the next day to Papette, Tahiti, to stay at the InterContinental for several days before boarding the SS Paul Gauguin bound for Raiatea. The Gauguin, designed specifically to tour the islands, just underwent a multimillion-dollar makeover. According to the anniversary couple, it was “all-inclusive wonderland with a five-star French supplying wonderful food 24/7.”

Raiatea is the island where the Hawaiian, Polynesian and New Zealand people met to conduct meetings and form alliances; quite incredible considering the distances involved. Next was the island of Taha for snorkeling and a tour of a Black Pearl farm. Ray confirms that it was the most expensive shore excursion of their life; I’m sure Kathy looks great in the 40th anniversary pearl necklace.

Then off to Bora Bora and a renewal of their wedding vows, Polynesian style, before stopping in Moorea for a day of deep sea fishing. I recall Ray telling me later that it was the most expensive little fish that he ever caught! 

After eleven days, Ray and Kathy finally arrived back at O’Hare “exhausted but thrilled at the wonderful way we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.” Congrats from all of us.

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