Ray H. Smith was born on December 16, 1935 to Henry and Mary (Black) Smith in Bloomer, Wisconsin. Ray was the youngest of seven children; Esther, Alice, Virgine, Erving, Hubert, and Anita. Ray attended Duncan Creek school until graduating to New Auburn High School. While in high school Judy LaDuke was selected to serve as the freshman Homecoming court and she had to select a freshman boy on the football team. Ray always joked that there wasn’t much to pick from so Judy picked him,their long romance began. After graduation from New Auburn High School Ray majored in Biology and Agriculture at UW-RF. Ray enjoyed vigorously singing the “River Falls Falcons Fight Song” and “The Stout Girls from the Institute” song to anyone who would listen.
Ray enjoyed Toastmasters, public speaking, and developing leadership skills. He was inspirational and motivated and stop learning and growing. With a twinkle in his eye Ray enjoyed a verbal spar and would often play the devil’s advocate and argue against his opinion just for the sake of the challenge.
After their college graduations Ray and Judy LaDuke were married on August 31, 1957 at St. James Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wis. Within days Ray left to serve his country in the U.S. Army in Fort Meade, Maryland from ‘57-’59. After his honorable discharge Ray returned home to high school Biology and Agriculture teaching positions in Birchwood and Gilman and then took a principal position at Gilman. Ray earned his Specialist degree in Administration at UW-Superior. He began his 30-year career as Superintendent of Schools in Prairie Farm and then Clear Lake. Many of Ray’s lifelong best friends were made at those schools and in those small towns.
Keith Everette was born to Ray and Judy on March 21, 1959 and then Thomas Michael completed their family on May 30, 1963. Ray’s family also included his beloved dogs.
A lifelong love of athletics brought Ray to serve on the Wisconsin Athletic Association (WIAA) Advisory Council from 1974-’80, in the position of President (from 1979-’80) and then on the WIAA Board of Control from 1980-’86, President from (1985-’86.) Ray retired from education in 1995. His grandson could not attend Grandpa Ray’s retirement party because he was playing football, just where his Grandpa wanted him to be! Ray was his grandchildren’s biggest fan and he enjoyed attending many of their grandchildren’s athletic events, choir concerts and dance recitals. Ray attended 50+ years of Wis. state BB tournaments and had the honor of passing out trophies to the state champions a few of those years.
Days spent hunting and fishing were Ray’s kind of fun! He was an avid outdoorsman and loved fishing trips to Canada and time at the cabin with family. He enjoyed teaching the grandchildren how to hunt, fish and play cards.
Ray enjoyed his volunteer work with the Lions, Veteran’s Memorial, Dollars for Scholars, Future Farmers of America and was an active member of First Lutheran Church and Men’s Bible Study.
After retirement Ray and Judy enjoyed wintering in Arizona with colleagues, soaking up sunshine on the golf course and had many adventures in the Southwest. Ray’s outgoing personality and love of life were equaled by Judy’s and they knew how to have fun. They were married for fifty-three years. Judy passed away in 2010. In 2018 Ray moved to Guardian Angels Senior Care Center in Otsego, Minn. because of health issues and to be close to his family. Ray graduated to glory January 16, 2021, and leaves a legacy as a man of faith who valued God, family, and education.
Survived by sons: Keith (Beth) and Tom (Sharon).
Grandchildren: Andy (Katie) Smith, Kristin (Bjorn) Leines, Phillip Smith, Nate Segal, Michelle (Kyle) Sanders.
Great-Grandchildren: Bearakhan and Micaiah Leines, Elli, Abbi, Drew and Isaak Smith, Harper and Everett Sanders.
Sister and brother and in-laws: Esther Burr-Kron, Florence Smith, Hubert (MaryAnn) Smith, Wayne Severson and Kay LaDuke.
Preceded in death by wife: Judy; parents: Henry and Mary (Black)Smith; sisters: Virgine Cloutier, Alice Boehm, and Anita Severson; brother: Erving Smith and brother-in-law: Mont LaDuke.
The family would like to express our sincere gratitude to the wonderful staff at Guardian Angels on the River. Their love, care, help, kindness and prayers have been a blessing to Ray and all of us.
Clergy- Pastor Bryan Anderson. Music- Brian Wick.
Military Honors - All Clear Lake Veterans Honor Guard.
Casket Bearers - Andy Smith, Bjorn Leines, Nate Segal, Kyle Sanders, Phillip Smith, Bearakhan Leines, Micaiah Leines, Elli Smith, and Abbi Smith.
Funeral will be held on Saturday, January 23, at First Lutheran Church in Clear Lake,Wis. Visitation at the church from 12:30-2:30 p.m. and the funeral begins at 2:30p.m. Guests are asked to wear masks and socially distance. Interment will be at the Clear Lake Cemetery in Clear Lake, Wis. Scheuermann-Hammer Funeral Home in Clear lake, Wis. handled the arrangements.