Raymond Allan Larson, 72, of Gary, Minn., died Jan. 8, 2021, after a three-year battle with cancer.
Ray was born March 7, 1948, in Moorhead, Minn., the first of seven children for Milton and Ann (Stumbo) Larson. He grew up in the Felton, Minn., area and graduated from Felton High School in 1966. He worked for area farmers after high school and began dating the love of his life, Pat Boe, in 1967 after frequent visits to the restaurant where she worked.
In 1968 he became part of a defining era in American history when he was drafted into the Vietnam War. He did his basic training at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash., in May of 1968, and served a one-year tour of duty where he received a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for bravery. He returned to America in 1969 and moved to Lubbock, Texas, where Pat was living at the time. He married Pat on July 15, 1970, and the couple welcomed a daughter, Jennifer Ann, in 1971. In Lubbock, he worked as a cable installer and fixed up classic cars with a friend until 1974, when the family packed up their 1955 Chevy pickup and 1957 Chevy Nomad and moved back to northern Minnesota, making their home in Gary to be closer to family. Ray started working in carpentry and raising feeder hogs, and the family welcomed two sons in the proceeding years, Clinton Ray in 1978 and Allan Milton in 1980.
In the mid-1980s Ray sold off his hogs and began working construction in the Fargo area, first for TF Powers and later for Meinecke-Johnson Co., where he became a supervisor and worked on many well-known landmarks in the Fargo-Moorhead area, including West Acres, the Hjemkomst Center, Hotel Donaldson and the greenhouses at North Dakota State University, before retiring in 2011.
Ray was also a Minnesota National Guard member during that time, joining the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, in Moorhead in 1986. He was a proud Guard member and served his country a second time when he was deployed to Skopje, Macedonia, for eight months in 2004 to assist with NATO operations there. He was discharged from the National Guard in 2006 and reached the rank of SFC (E-7).
After his retirement, Ray took on the project of building a new, bigger house on his property for the expanding family. He designed and built almost all parts of the house, from the foundation to the roof, and he and Pat moved into it in 2015. They hosted many family gatherings in the new home, and he was able to spend his final days there, with his family by his side.
Throughout his life, Ray was a man who enjoyed life and the people he met along the way. He was an active member of the communities he was a part of, serving in the American Legion, the VFW, the Disabled American Veterans, the Gary Lions Club, the Gary Church Board, and the Gary State Bank Board. He enjoyed good conversation and making people laugh with an impeccably timed joke. He was a lover of the outdoors, classic cars, westerns, and oldies music. He was the dad who could fix anything and was often called upon to do just that. He reveled in being a grandfather who filled Easter eggs with riddles, fixed up go-karts for joy rides, attended every sporting event, and won board games with the kids. And through all the pain and treatments that came along with his cancer, he never stopped believing that he’d have another chance to finish all the projects on his list.
Ray is survived by his wife of 50 years, Pat; daughter Jennifer (Jim Larson) of Fertile, Minn.; son Clinton (Tara) of Fargo, N.D.; son Allan (Christine) of Mound, Minn.; brothers Ronnie (Ruth) Larson of Felton, Minn., and Mitchell (Nancy Johnson) Larson of Glyndon, Minn.; sisters Debbie (Terry) Blake of Felton, Minn., Laura Meyer of Somerset, Wisc., Claudia (Don) Schroeder of Fargo, N.D., and Sally (Mark) Annis of Glyndon, Minn.; his grandchildren Samuel, Soren and Kate Larson (Jennifer and Jim), Graham Larson (Clinton and Tara) and Aleyna Larson (Allan and Christine); and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and other extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother-in-law, Jerry Meyer.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 24, 2021, at 2 pm at Gary Lutheran Church, Gary, with visitation and a time of gathering one hour prior.
Graveside Services with Military Honors will be held at Gary Lutheran Cemetery following the funeral. All are welcome.
Following all Covid-19 safety protocols, social distancing will be practiced, and all must wear a mask to participate. The funeral service will be recorded and available for viewing on the website shortly after the service.