TULSA, Okla. — Sherman Ray is celebrating 100 years of life.
A tailored life of tremendous resilience, even the White House sent him a birthday card to celebrate the milestone.
“When I came to Tulsa, I said, this is the town I like to live,” Ray said.
The long-time Tulsa tailor developed a passion for the trade in Bialystok, Poland, where he was born. He said his father encouraged him to develop a skill set that would open doors for him. Little did he know, it would also save his life.
Ray celebrates life because he understands its fragility.
“Going through what I went through in the camps, especially on the ground, it was the worst,” Ray said.
He is a Holocaust survivor of not one, but two concentration camps.
“It was a living hell,” he said.
Ray and his family were captured when the war first started. They were corralled into a box car with other Polish Jews. He jumped from the train. He tried convincing his family to do the same, but they wouldn’t.
After living several months in hiding, Ray was captured and taken to Treblinka Camp. His tailoring skills saved him from the otherwise guaranteed death sentence.
“In the concentration camp at the beginning in Poland, I was doing the uniforms for the SS, that’s why I survived,” Ray said.
He said when Germans learned Russian troops were approaching the Treblinka Camp, they were evacuated to Auschwitz.
“I said to myself, 'I’ve got to survive,'" Ray said.
He did. Ray was liberated on May 2, 1945.
Last December, life tested his resilience once again. He battled COVID-19, but his zest for life and strength proved to be enough to power through.
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