W. Ray Witham

W. Ray Witham, 85 of O'Fallon, IL born, Sunday, December 26, 1926, in Pisgah, (Morgan County), IL died January 20, 2012 at 3:50 am at Relais Bonne Eau, Edwardsville, IL.

Ray was a Veteran, proudly serving in the U.S. Army, Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force.  He entered the Army when he was 17 years of age and served in Germany during WWII, Korea and Vietnam.  He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1974, as a Chief Master Sergeant, with more than 30 years of service.  After his retirement from Military Service he worked as an Employee-Labor Relations Specialist as a Civilian at Scott Air Force Base for 16 and one half years.

Ray went to Grade School, first through eighth grade, in a one room Rural School Building in the Community of Pisgah, IL and attended Franklin Community High School in Franklin, IL.  He graduated from High School in 1951 and attended Bethany College in Lindsberg, KS.

Ray loved his Church, his Country and his Family.  He loved playing golf with his golfing buddies.  The most one could lose was $2.00 but Ray always said it was more fun to win than it was to lose.  He was an avid St. Louis Cardinal Fan, in the days of Dizzy and Paul Dean.  His Great Grand Children Cole and Raegan were his pride and joy.

Ray was a member of the First United Methodist Church, O'Fallon, IL, Life member and Past Master (1996 and 2008) of  O'Fallon Masonic Lodge 576, O'Fallon, IL, member and Past Master, Lebanon Masonic Lodge 110, Lebanon, IL.  He also served the O'Fallon Lodge as Secretary for four and one half years.

He was a life member of the Scottish Rite Masonic Bodies, Valley of Southern IL, Belleville, IL.  He served as Presiding Officer of the Cahokia Council Princes of Jerusalem and Thrice Potent Master of The St. Clair Lodge of Perfection.  Ray received the Meritorious Service Award in Springfield, IL June 1984.  He was created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33rd Degree, September 1, 1987, in Boston, MA.

Ray was a member of the Belleville York Right Masonic Bodies, Belleville, IL.  He served as presiding Officer of all three bodies.  Member of the following pendent York Rite Bodies; Southern Illinois York Rite College 33, served as Governor (2000-2001).  Cahokia Mounds Council 225, Allied Masonic Degrees, Past Venerable Master.  Patros Tabernacle LVIII, Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar High Priest, Past VEP.  He was also a member of the Red Cross of Constantine, Saxa Ruba Conclave, Champagne, IL.  He was awarded the Knight York Cross of Honor, November 30, 1987, in Danville IL, and awarded the Order of Purple Cross, August 2, 1997 in Denver, CO.  Ray was an Honorary member Belvidere Commandry No. 2 and Emanuel No. 81.

Ray was a member of the Ainad Shriners, East St. Louis, IL.  He was a member and Past Commander (1975) Ainad Shrine Legion of Honor, member and Past President (1997 and 2000) of Dania Shrine Club, O'Fallon, IL.  He was a member of the Sword of Bunker Hill, Charles A. Lindbergh Chapter 247, National Sojourners Past President (1999-2000).  He was also a member of General Rogers Clark Camp, Hero's of 76, Past Commander (2000-2003).

Ray was preceded in death by his:

  • Parents: Charles W. and Josie nee Mann, Witham
  • Daughter: Donna Rippey
  • Grandson: Curtis Ray Rippey
  • Son-in-Law: Warren Rippey
  • Four Brothers: Hank, Tom, Ed and Warren
  • Two Sisters: Myrtle Probasco and Mary Smith

Ray is survived by his:

  • Wife: Beulah, who he married in 1947, in Jacksonville, IL with the Late Reverend Garfield Rodgers Officiating
  • Daughter: Christina (Bill) Watson of Haslet, TX
  • Granddaughter: Jennifer (Dan) O'Bryan of Breese, IL
  • Grandson: Brad (Erin) Davison-Rippey of Des Moines, IA
  • Great Grandson: Cole E. O'Bryan
  • Great Granddaughter: Raegan C. O'Bryan of Breese, IL
  • Sisters: Marjorie Witham and Betty Robinson of Jacksonville, IL
  • Many loving nieces and nephews

Memorials: In lieu of flowers donations may be made to First United Methodist Church of O'Fallon, IL, O'Fallon Lodge 576, 32 Degree Learning Center for Children, Inc., and /or Hospice of Southern IL.

Visitation: Friends may call from 3-8 pm Monday, January 23, 2012 at Kurrus Funeral Home, Belleville, IL with a Legion of Honor walk through at 7:15pm followed by a Masonic Service.

Funeral: Funeral Service will be held at 10:00am Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at Kurrus Funeral Home with Rev. Ron Dickinson and Rev. Joel Catlin officiating.  Interment will follow at the O'Fallon, IL city Cemetery.

Condolences left for W. Ray Witham:

    Having Ray as a friend is to know what true friendship means. Well done thy good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.

    Stuart Eberle Belleville IL 62221-4428

    Buelah and family, you have my deepest sympathy. Having Ray as my next-door neighbor for 25 years has truly been a blessing. I will miss him very much. Jan

    Janice Lillie O'Fallon IL 62269

    Sorry For Your Loss. Please accept this electronic message in lieu of a Sympathy Card. Local National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) volunteers provide help in reporting the death of any federal civilian retiree or a retiree’s spouse to proper authorities. They will explain the process as needed and report the death to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for you. The NARFE Service Center is located in building 50, Scott AFB. You may visit the Service Center on Tuesdays, 10AM to 2PM or call 618-256-9350. You may leave a voice mail message at other times and we will return your call the following Tuesday. You may also call either of our Service Officers, Gene Wiggins at 618 566-7980 or Dean Hemmer at 618 233-3819, for immediate assistance if required.

    Gene Wiggins MASCOUTAH IL 62258

    I feel honored to have known Ray. He welcomed me into the lodge 4 years ago and had a great impact on me. Ray I will miss our conversations and laughter. Rest in Peace.

    Mike Mavrogeorge New Baden Illinois 62265

    Beulah, please accept my deepest heart-felt condolences on Ray's passing. Ray was a friend, a Chief, and a brother. I will always remember his smile, laugh, and welcoming handshake. His absence will leave a void that will never be filled. He will truly and sincerely be missed. Ray, may God keep you and peace be with you my brother.

    Charlie R. Hopkins Belleville IL 62221-4428

    Ray was always a pleasure to talk to whether it was related to the Masons or other things in general. My 17 yr old son got to know Ray through going to the monthly breakfast, and always said how he liked talking with Ray, He will be greatly missed

    John Capps O'Fallon Illinois 62269

    The two things I always loved about Ray were that 1) you always knew where you stood with him, and 2) he was ALWAYS there to help. He had a wonderful sense of humor and could always see positives in almost every situation. I will miss his counsel, and his friendship.

    Mike Kimbrell
    PM, O'Fallon Lodge #576 (2009)
    PC, Ainad Shrine Legion of Honor (2011)

    Mike Kimbrell O'Fallon Il 62269

    We will miss Uncle Raymond so much. I will always remember his warm smile & great sense of humor. God Bless.

    Cynthia ( Witham) Eaton Knightdale nc 27545

    I only met Ray from going to the breakfasts at our Lodge. He was kind to me and all that he greeted as they approached the table at the bottom of the stairs. I know the family has many memories of good days with Ray in their life.

    JACK ROBERSON Lebanon IL 62254

    Aunt Beulah and Chris, so sorry on Uncle Ray's passing.Thinking of you today. May your hearts be filled with happy memories. Love Karen

    Karen Mckinney Stoutsville Mo 65283