Rev. Frank Harrison Ragg, Jr., son of Frank Harrison Ragg, Sr. and Rosa M. Ragg, was born on June 19, 1926, in Skiatook, Oklahoma. He passed away Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 7:05 a.m. in the intensive care unit of St. John’s Hospital, Lebanon, Missouri. Frank was surrounded by family, including the compassionate nursing staff of the hospital, at the time of his death. Frank attained the age of 85 years, eight months and 13 days.
Frank’s family relocated to Macks Creek when he was four years old. The dust storms of Oklahoma and the loss of the family farm that forced his family’s move east left a lasting impression. His dream of owning a farm was fulfilled when he purchased 80 acres near Stoutland in 1966. Frank raised beef cattle for many years.
Frank was drafted in 1944 and graduated in absentia from Argentine High School in Kansas City. He described how his diploma was laid on his desk at Argentine while he was training for combat duty with the Army. He departed from the court house steps in Camdenton to join the war effort. Frank served as a machine gunner in Europe during WWII; he was in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Italy, stating often that he was “with George (Patton) in Bastogne”. He was very humble concerning service to his country, resisting praise or thankfulness by insisting that he was not a hero.
Frank and Louise Lackey were married on November 6, 1945. He loved to tell the story of their courtship. Frank and Louise had known each other in high school and he even tried to talk her into marrying him their sophomore year. They lost track of each other after Frank’s family moved to Kansas City but Louise and her best friend Imogene worked during summers there. Louise was waiting to cross a downtown street when a taxi-load of soldiers passed by and one started yelling at her out the window. Louise was not impressed till someone hopped out of the cab and she realized it was Frank. The romance began. Frank was blessed for nearly 63 years with the love of his life.
Frank was always very busy and served others. He was a good worker, providing well for his family. Frank earned a degree from Park College in 1948. He worked at Colgate-Palmolive in Kansas City for 37 years and he was a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union for over 35 years; during that time he also drove a taxi, worked as a Pinkerton guard, and owned a small aircraft he loved to fly. He was a very good bowler and spent time shooting at his gun club near Topeka, Kansas. But his favorite activity was serving as the MYF leader at New Hope Methodist Church. Upon retirement from Colgate in 1984 he began seminary and graduated from St. Paul School of Theology in 1989. Frank served as a Methodist minister for over twenty years at both Linn Creek United Methodist Church and a multi-denominational church in Mission, Texas where he and Louise spent winters from 1998 till 2006. Additionally, Frank and Louise traveled by riding a prized BMW motorcycle after Frank’s retirement, visiting 47 of the 48 contiguous United States. They were active members of the Christian Motorcycle Association.
Surviving the Great Depression and WWII profoundly shaped Frank’s perspective. He often worried about those who hunger or lack adequate clothing as he had struggled with both as a young person. Frank and Louise supported an orphanage in Mexico, working to construct the building and provide food and clothing to the children. Frank served as Chaplin for the Missouri Military Funeral Honor Guard and attended hundreds of funerals. He was an active member of the VFW for over 50 years.
Frank loved bluegrass music and played several instruments nearly all of his life, beginning with a ten cent harmonica he received at a grade school Christmas party. He played music at weekend dances for “pocket money” in his youth. Later in life, Frank played the banjo and harmonica with the Older American Band in Marshfield, Missouri when he and Louise moved there in 1997 after selling the family farm to Jerry and Nita.
Frank was honored by his granddaughter, Olivia, when she nominated her grandfather and grandmother for the Flight for Bravery trip to Washington D.C. in 2008, where Frank visited the WWII memorial. Frank and Louise’s itinerary was completely sponsored by Stoutland School. Four generations of the family made the trip: Frank and Louise, his twin daughters, Rita and Nita, his granddaughter Olivia and her daughter Madelyn.
Frank was an active member of the Marshfield United Methodist Church until severe health issues limited his attendance. He resided at an assisted living facility in Lebanon near his “twins” and their families for the last few months of his life. Frank fought bravely against advanced heart disease and the diabetes that plagued him for years. He was tough, strong and courageous. He never gave up.
Frank was preceded in death by his spouse Louise, his parents, and his only sister, Frankie.
Frank is survived by his 14-year-old Siamese cat, Sassy; four daughters, Linda Hale and her husband Bruce, of Eugene, Oregon; Rita Wall and her husband, Randy of Lebanon, Missouri; Nita Bechtel and her husband, Jerry, also of Lebanon; Kathey Walker and her husband Roger, of Houston, Texas; and a son, Frank H. Ragg, III and his wife, Donette, of Los Angeles, California; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren: Olivia (Bechtel) York and her husband Kyle of Stoutland and their daughters Madelyn and Lilly; Erika Bechtel of Lebanon; Chris Wall of Lebanon; Brandon Wall and his wife Shonna and their son Matthew of Lebanon; Cpl. Andrew Wall of the US Marine Corps, deployed; Franklin Ragg of Orange county, California; and Jessica Ragg also of Orange county. Frank is also mourned by cousins and a host of friends.
Frank made friends easily and loved visiting with people. Frank was very bright, with a quick wit and a dry sense of humor. He loved to laugh and tease. Frank embraced life and loved his Lord; he cherished family. He often reminisced about family get-togethers and laughter around the table. He loved collecting and trading guns, knives, musical instruments, coins, cars, fishing and playing golf.
While Frank will be sadly missed, life was extremely difficult for him without Louise. The surviving family is grateful for the wonderful life Frank and Louise made for them and the influence of Christian parents. We rejoice that Frank and Louise are together again!
Funeral services for Frank will be at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, March 7, 2012 in Fraker Funeral Home, Marshfield, with the Rev. Gary Griffin officiating. Burial with full military honors will be in the Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Springfield, where Louise was laid to rest in October of 2008.
Visitation will be from 7-8:00 p.m. Tuesday in the funeral home. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Mission to Mexico or to the Gideons.