Super Senior: Ray Burke - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Ray Burke

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BERLIN, Vt. -

At Harvest Hill Farm, just listen and you will hear the sounds from outside.

But every day, music comes from the inside.

It's Ray Burke, playing his tenor sax. He's been playing since he was 12. Ray's a self-described hillbilly, who grew up in the mountains of Rochester.

"It was a clean shack, nice shack, it was one and a half rooms really," said Ray.

But for more than 50 years Ray has lived on the farm in Berlin. He lives with his son and daughter-in-law. They milk 25 cows.

His life has had a big challenge.

"So you get so your field of vision gets smaller and smaller and finally you are looking at a tiny hole, you know," said Ray.

In his early teens, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, Ray is now completely blind.

"With blindness you do everything you can, but you got to go slower," explains Ray.

He's grateful it wasn't a sudden loss of sight.  The slow loss of vision gave him time to prepare. 

You quickly find out with Ray that he has a keen sense of humor and doesn't hold back on his thoughts.

"You know what they say, cows and gals are kind of the same...keep them grinning, not growl'n, you be better off, you know," said Ray.

Ray and Annie met over 50 years ago; she knew that Ray was going to lose his eyesight. They soon married.

"She didn't care, she said we'll get along and we did," Ray said.

Annie was his peer, they hunted and farmed together. She died two years ago.

"When you care for somebody for so long, it's hard not to miss them," said Ray.

Ray wasn't always a fixture on the farm, for decades he was a dispatcher for the Department of Transportation, making sure the plows got where they were supposed to go.

"I made it my point while I could still see, to learn every road that we had maintenance on," said Ray.

Before there were smartphones that could pinpoint where storms happened, Ray would get phone calls from Vermonter's wondering what the roads were like. He even was a regular on radio stations giving his unique road reports.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Where's Rupert?

Ray Burke: Rupert is in the southwestern part of Vermont.

Years after retiring, the 73-year-old still knows every town and road in Vermont.  

Now he's occupied with farming, mends fences and is passionate about music.

"I would like to show people that just because you have something go wrong, it's not the end of the world," said Ray.

Ray can be heard playing his sax in The Twin City Players. They play around Central Vermont a few times a month. 

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