From his very beginning in 1937, Raymond Charles Rucker was a headstrong lad. With his best friends (aka little brothers) Robert and Glenn, he was the leader of the pack and designer of adventures. The Rucker boys always watched out for their baby sister Mary Ann, and did their best to keep her alive when she insisted on tagging along. Parents Edgar and Elsie were mostly patient with their brood, but weren’t afraid to set them straight if the mischief went too far. Some of Ray’s best days as a young man were the summers he spent at his family’s cabin on the Big River. He also loved being at the racetrack, working on cars, and racing with his brothers and friends.
As a teen, he made his family proud by earning a scholarship to Saint Louis University High School, where he excelled in academics and was on the rifle team. After high school Ray went on to attend Saint Louis University to study Chemistry. During college, he served in the United States Army Reserves at Fort Leonard Wood. The Army taught him many things, his favorite being boxing; his least favorite was how to peel pound after pound of potatoes in the mess hall.
After college, Ray took a job at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceutical Company and wound up staying 40 years. In his early days there, he met a beautiful young Catholic girl named Patricia Brady, who would soon become his bride and mother of his four children. Ray and Pat bought a farm and home in the country outside Jonesburg and Ray began many years of commuting to downtown St Louis every day to work. His parents retired to the farm and lived next door while the family grew. After a long day of work and a long commute home he would often hop on a tractor to work on the farm late into the evening. At the end of these long days he would come into the house after dark and exclaim, “Boy, my butt is dragging!”
Ray passed his love for racing on to his son Jim. Together, they made the Rucker Racing Team. He immensely enjoyed the time they spent together at the track. Many years later, he was a proud grandfather when Jim’s son Gage also took up racing.
Mr. Rucker was a voracious lifelong reader; devouring books was one of his favorite pastimes. Later in life when his eyesight began to fail, he switched to audiobooks, and his love affair with the written word continued.
Sadly, Pat lost her brief battle with cancer in 2001 at the age of 65. Ray married his second wife a few years later – Valerie Rucker, who survives at the home. In 2020, he suffered the great loss of his brother Bob (less than a year his junior) to leukemia.
As a father, Ray took great pride in his children – daughters Theresa (widow of Gary) Vieth, Susan (Randy) Stiers, and Anne (Rich) Winkelmann and son James Rucker. He was also blessed with grandchildren Elizabeth Vieth; Ryan, Kyle (Lori), and Hayley Stiers; Karli, Jamison, Brennan, and Gage Rucker; and Jackson, Quin and Maura Winkelmann; along with great grandchildren Kai, Lenny, Anna, Lane and Kinsley; and many nieces and nephews.
He lived life in terms of his choosing and made the most of his 86 years. Whether known as Ray, Dad, Grandpa, or Pop; he was loved…and he will be missed.
Visitation is scheduled from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on Feb. 17 at Pitman Funeral Home in Jonesburg. The funeral is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. that same day at St. Patrick Catholic Church Cemetery. Burial will be held at the cemetery.