By Rachel Gobep
Dr. Ray was known as an unconventional man by many, and according to his wife, Susie Beiersdorfer, he always told people he wanted to be made into a diamond and put in the Youngstown State University Clarence R. Smith Mineral museum when he died.
That wish was granted.
Ray Beiersdorfer, also known as Dr. Ray, was a distinguished professor of geological and environmental sciences at YSU for 25 years. He suffered a major heart attack on Sept. 13, 2018, and died 28 days later — the day before his 62nd birthday.
His life was celebrated at the mineral museum one year after his death on Oct. 11.
In October 2018, Susie Beiersdorfer took 1 pound of his ashes to Cirelli Jewelers and after a process that took 10 months, his diamond landed at the mineral museum.
The diamond isn’t cut or polished.
“I always said, ‘Ray was many faceted, but not polished,’” Susie Beiersdorfer said. “So, it’s a diamond in the rough.”
She said it was important for the diamond to be rough to symbolize his natural character.
“You look at the different examples, and you see the shiny faceted with all the colors coming out. But a diamond in the rough, where it’s just growing naturally really, you know, appealed most to me, and I think it would have appealed to him, too,” Susie Beiersdorfer said.
She reflected full circle on the past year without her husband, and she said the way that family, friends and the community embraced her and her family was incredible.
“The love and support really helped to smooth the edges of the grief that comes up all the time,” she said. “I always say, ‘Ray had a life well lived and a life well loved.’ It was just too damn short.”
Stefanie Hudzik, director of the mineral museum, said this is the first donation of its kind to the museum.
“It is just so extraordinary,” she said.
Hudzik said Dr. Ray was a force in the department.
“Everybody that came here to study geology knew him, had some story about him. So, him being here just — it continues on. He continues to be a part of this department. He continues to teach, even though he’s not here,” she said.
Hudzik said through the diamond, students and visitors can be taught the process of breaking down one material to the next and what the human body is made of.
According to Hudzik, the diamond should be on display in the museum in the spring semester.
“It’s nice that everyone has come together, and his wishes are being fulfilled,” Hudzik said.
About $1,450 was raised by community members to aid in the cost of the diamond.
The memorial diamond is not the first attribution made at YSU for Dr. Ray. A scarlet oak tree, which is the only tree of its kind on campus, was planted in between Moser and Ward Beecher halls.
Additionally, a periodic table lights up the student lounge area on the west side of Ward Beecher.
Dr. Ray made the arrangements for the 118-element periodic table and helped secure the donation that was given to the university for the cabinet by an anonymous donor.
For more information on how ashes become a diamond, go to MyMemorialDiamond.com/Ashes-To-Diamonds/.