Charlean Raymond, an audiologist for Rio Rancho Public Schools and longtime resident of Albuquerque, passed away unexpectedly Oct. 18 at the age of 63.
“I have worked with Charlean at Stapleton for over 10 years,” said Stapleton Elementary teacher Stephanie Mierzejewski. “She possessed the best laugh I have ever heard — you knew where she was before you even saw her. Always had a heart of gold, sharing her Lobo tickets and even her lunch. She has helped so many children and their families with hearing difficulties from preschool through 12th grade. She has left behind a huge hole within RRPS that sure will be hard to fill.”
Charlean was born July 10, 1957, in Upland, Calif., to Charles Raymond Jr. and Willean Kirby, according to her obituary on the Daniels Family Funeral Services website. She graduated from San Diego State University in 1979 with her bachelor’s degree.
After graduation, she moved to Albuquerque, getting her master’s degree in audiology from the University of New Mexico. She became an avid Lobo fan, cheering on the basketball and football teams every year.
As an audiologist, she served as president of the Educational Audiologist Association and as the vice president of the New Mexico Speech Language and Hearing Association.
“Charlean was a gentle soul whose heart was dedicated to children,” said Cathy Rork-Gaarden, a former RRPS principal. “She was an excellent audiologist and a blessing to all who had the pleasure of working with her. … She always had a smile on her face and was positive and upbeat. She will be dearly missed.”
She had a special empathy for those with hearing loss, having been hearing-impaired since birth, according to the obituary. She found a position with the Indian Health Board as an audiologist, and then with RRPS, where she worked for 26 years, most recently at Stapleton Elementary.
Even the younger set knew her, said Shining Stars Preschool Principal Kim Johns: “Charlean was a big part of our school community. She was so knowledgeable, always willing to help and support others.
“She spent many hours testing students’ hearing, attending (Individual Education Plan meetings) and working with our staff. Charlean taught our staff how to use classroom amplification systems and advocated for them in each classroom at our new school site.
“Charlean was known and loved by all: staff, students and families. She will be deeply missed by the staff at Shining Stars; we are hoping to find a way to honor and remember her on our new school site.”
Jerry Reeder, the district’s executive director of special services, said Raymond was amazing and an important member of the Special Services department.
“We will miss her very much, as she was an angel here on Earth and took care of so many of us — she was an all-time, inspirational cheerleader of the Special Services Department,” Reeder said.
He recalled that Raymond led the planning of special events through each school year.
“She was a true advocate of students with special needs and always searched for improved ways for students to participate and make progress in their learning,” he said.
In the Duke City, Raymond joined Hoffmantown Church, where she taught Sunday school for almost 40 years, according to the obituary. She also taught at the West Side meeting of Bible Study Fellowship as an adult leader and a children’s leader.