Ray Darrell Updike
June 24, 1928 - July 20, 2008
Ray Darrell Updike was born June 24, 1928, on the family ranch in the Great Divide area northwest of Craig, to Glen W. and Rachel M. (Futhey) Updike. He joined two sisters, LaVerge and Alta, and a brother, Earl. Six years later, they unexpectedly added another brother, Gene.
Ray died Sunday, July 20, 2008, at his home after a short illness.
Raised in the Great Divide area, he attended school at the upper and lower Big Gulch schools. He completed the eighth grade. At age 16, he moved to California to live with his sister, LaVerge. There he worked at filling stations, knocked walnuts and cut grapes for the wineries.
Ray returned to Craig and began farming, only to be drafted into the Army before harvest. He spent a year, 11 months and a day in the service. The bulk of that time was in Korea. While in the military, he was awarded the Korean service medal with two bronze service stars, a United Nations service medal, an overseas bar, a national defense service medal and a good conduct medal. After his regular service, he spent six years in the reserves and was discharged in 1960 with the rank of corporal.
After returning to Craig and seeing his family, Ray moved back to California. He worked a variety of jobs for several years before moving back to the Craig area.
Once again, he worked at filling stations and for a time managed one in the Steamboat Springs area. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he went to work for Jody Carver's auto shop as a parts chaser and wrecker operator, and he once got the chance to tow an airplane. After Jody died, Ray went to work for the city of Craig and then for the Moffat County School District until he retired.
Ray was an avid fisherman and knew all the best spots every summer. For many years, his sister, LaVerge, would come out from California. The two of them would spend the summer fishing, gardening, canning and bickering, as both were outspoken. Things never failed to get interesting, as more siblings would stop in and add their two cents to the battle, much to the enjoyment of the nieces and nephews.
Known for his flowers, one of Ray's last concerns was finding them good homes, and many people came to his home in his last days to take care of this final wish. Ray was a regular at the Popular Bar, where he enjoyed watching pool and playing cards.
As anyone who knew Ray could attest, he was one of the most giving of people you ever could know. More than once he offered a stranger a place to stay, and often this created a life-long friend. A hand or item to help friends and family always was extended. All his nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews could count on Uncle Ray for $5 at Christmas. Even though they knew from year-to-year what they would get, it was the most anticipated of all the gifts for the knowing. Whenever he came across something that he figured someone could use or needed to know, he would give you a call. Or, if he needed a hand, he knew which member of the family was best suited to help.
He was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Big Gulch Better Community Club, where his pies and chicken dumplings always were looked forward to.
Ray will be missed by friends and family, as he was a steady constant in their lives.
Preceding him in death were parents Glen and Rachel; sisters LaVerge and Alta; nephew David Burns; and sister-in-law Juanita Updike. He is survived by brothers Earl and Gene (Illena), both of Craig; nephews Donald Norton (Ruby) of Stockton, Calif.; Rodney Updike (Susan) of Grand Junction; Dale Updike (Cathy) of Battle Mountain, Nev.; Jay Updike of Craig, and Victor Updike (Amy) of Craig; nieces Mary Colby (Dave) of Grand Junction; Rita Updike of Craig and Glenda Bellio (Todd) of Craig; many great-nieces and nephews; and good friend Robbie Robinson (Edna) of Craig.
Memorial services were at 3 p.m. Friday, July 25, 2008, at Grant Mortuary with Mervin Johnson officiating. Loretta Earle sang "Beyond the Sunset" and "The Old Rugged Cross," accompanied by Denise Wallace on the piano. Honorary pallbearers were "all of Ray's many friends."
Interment followed in the Craig Cemetery with military honors performed by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4265.