Ray W. Smith

Ray Wesley Smith died on June 2, 2024, at the Jewell County Hospital ISB in Mankato, Kansas. He was born October 5, 1927, to William W. and Martha Nell (Briggs) Smith on a farm three miles from Wauneta, Kansas. He was the middle of five siblings, Clyde and Mildred being older, and Mary and Vryl, younger.

Ray attended a one room country school for eight years, and then graduated from Cedar Vale High School in 1945.  Immediately after high school he enlisted in the Navy and served one year, with six months being on Guam. He enrolled at the Kansas State Agriculture College (now Kansas State University) and graduated in 1950 with a degree in Agriculture. He was assigned to Jewell County as an Assistant Extension Agent, soon accepting a job at Jewell High School teaching a Veterans-on-Farm training class.

Ray married Lila Whitaker on June 30, 1951, at the Methodist Church in Beloit, Kansas. They welcomed four children, Max, Roberta, Rebecca, and Barbara.

His on-the-farm teaching job continued as he began to get into farming. In January 1959 the family moved to Independence, Kansas where Ray was a salesman for Gooch Feeds. About a year later, a farm was purchased in Jewell County and the family moved back to the area in April 1960. Ray had said from the time he was young that he wanted to farm. He reached that goal and enjoyed farming and raising livestock for many years.

Ray was a member of the Harmony United Methodist Church, the VFW, and the Jewell County Masonic Lodge. He served as a board member for the Jewell County Farm Bureau and the Jewell County Kansas Livestock Association, and was a founding member of the local Rural Water District Board.

He was an avid K State Wildcats fan, for years attending most football and basketball games, as well as multiple bowl games. Among other travel, Ray and Lila enjoyed frequent trips to Branson, MO and Yellowstone National Park.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents and siblings.

He will be missed by his wife Lila, of the home; children, Max Smith (Stacey) of Mankato, KS, Roberta Walker of Lenexa, KS, Rebecca Donelan (John) of Salina, KS, and Barbara Krone (Jim) of Wichita, KS; grandchildren, Lindsay Osborne (Chad), Amanda Smith (Derek Rothfuss), Shelby Bohnert (Damon), Alexander Smith, Natasha Taylor, Nathan Walker (Allison Sullivan), Jeff Donelan (Deborah), Valerie Donelan (Brett Naylor), Laura Allison (Jon), and Jennifer Crafts (Kyle); 18 great grandchildren, and many other family members and friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, June 7, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. at Harmony United Methodist Church with Pastor Jim Rice officiating. Visitation will take place on Thursday, June 6, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Melby Mortuary with family greeting friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Memorials may be made to the Mankato Endowment Association for the Ray Smith Scholarship Fund or to Harmony United Methodist Church in care of Melby Mortuary, P.O. Box 384, Mankato, KS 66956. For online condolences visit www.melbymortuary.com.