Ray E. Aldrich, 88, peacefully passed away from this life at Hillcrest Nursing Home in McCook after a long battle with Parkinson's.
Ray was born Jan. 31, 1921, on a farm north of Cambridge to Albert and Mabel (Harmon) Aldrich. Later the family moved to a farm north of Arapahoe. He went to a country school, riding a Shetland pony to school each day. After graduating from Arapahoe High school, he went into the Civilian Conservation Corps at Beaver City, helping to build dams to provide irrigation water for farmers.
In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was sent to Great Lakes, Ill., for training. He served as a medical corpsman until accepted for the Navy commissioning program. He attended Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo., to earn a degree in engineering and his commission as a USN Ensign.
Ray came home on a three-day leave to marry his high school sweetheart, Gladys Fleharty, in Edison and they left the following day for Norfolk, Va. They spent time in Virginia and Mississippi while he was on duty patrolling the Atlantic Coast on various destroyers seeking enemy submarines, during which time he earned the rank of Lieutenant.
After his discharge in 1946, Ray went into the Reserves and served two weeks of duty each year, finally retiring from the Reserves after 20 years of military service. Ray and Gladys returned to Arapahoe and he started to work for the Bureau of Reclamation. Later the family moved to McCook and Ray spent 35 years with the Bureau before retiring.
Ray and Gladys loved to travel. They bought a motor home and visited all 50 states. They also went to Europe twice and took a Caribbean Cruise. His favorite hobbies were growing roses and attending Nebraska football games.
Ray was member of the Methodist Church for more than 50 years and taught a Sunday school class for many years. He was a member of the Masons and had been head of all York Rite Bodies of McCook, was a Past President of Tehama Western Shrine Club, and belonged to K.Y.C.H., Red Cross of Constantine, and Eastern Star.
He was preceded in death by his parents and five sisters.
He is survived by his wife, Gladys, his companion for more than 63 years. Also left to cherish his memory are his daughter, Sherry Wegener, and her husband, Ron of Klamath Falls, Ore., and daughter, Colonel Linda Aldrich-Rodriguez and her husband, Felipe of Longmont, Colo. He also has four granddaughters, Sheron and husband, Dan Mulino, Ore.; Renee, Klamath Fall, Ore.; Sheila and husband, Matt, Eugene, Ore.; and Ashley and husband, Rob of O'Fallon, Ill., and one grandson, Steve and wife, Mary of Falls Church, Va. He also has 10 great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, and will be dearly missed by his family.
Memorials may be sent to First United Methodist Church, McCook or to Parkinson's Research charities.
Funeral services will be Friday, May 1, 2009, 2 p.m. at Memorial United Methodist Church with the Rev. Dr. Jeff Thurman officiating. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery.
Visitation will be today and Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Carpenter Breland Funeral Home in McCook.
Friends may sign his book at the funeral home or send condolences online at www.carpenterbreland.com.
Carpenter Breland Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.