Raymond Russell Francis, the fourth son of Wilbert Thomas and Myrtle Mae (Evans) Francis, was born on the Francis home farm on December 1, 1922, in Pleasant Valley near Rainy, MO, and passed away August 15, 2011 at Sac-Osage Hospital, Osceola, MO.
Ray attended grade school at Rainy Hill, District 80, and Osceola High School, graduating in 1941. He was a member of the Pleasant Valley Christian Church, being baptized in 1935 at Kellerís Camp on the Sac River. Ray and his mother prepared communion of Sunday mornings. He also had the job of secretary and treasurer at the church. After graduation he went to California where he worked in an Air Craft factory in January 1942. On December 9, 1942, he volunteered for the U.S. Air Force. After training Ray graduated as a fighter pilot, flying P47 Thunderbolt Fighters, with 55 missions in Europe. He won the Air Medal and 5 Oak Leaf Clusters; he also wore the Presidential Unit Citation with one Cluster. After returning home in 1945, Ray then went to Kansas City where he worked for the Weather Bureau Forecast Center and later Air Traffic Control in Kansas City. While working there he was recalled to the service during the Korean conflict. He was sent to Japan and while in the Far East he spent time in Japan, Korea, China, Formosa, Okinawa. Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. He carried a top secret clearance personal card. Ray returned home in 1958, where he farmed with his brother Moss. In 1960 he went to Lake City, MN and bought a large apple orchard which he worked until 1985.
While in Lake City, MN, Ray met and married Jean Lois Thompson in 1980. They moved back to the St. Clair county farm near Rainey. She preceded him in death in 2006. Ray remained on the farm until 2008 when he moved to the nursing home.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Jean, three brothers, Harry, Melvin (Moss) and A. L. (Pete) Francis, his stepdaughter, Toni Piar and a nephew Calvin Francis.
Ray is survived by his sister in-law Lillie Francis, two nieces Juanita Gumm and Norma Haglund, one nephew, Dennis Francis, several great nieces and nephews, 2 step granddaughters, Brenda Fug and Kathy Piar, best friends, Joe and Doris Norval, other relatives and friends.