Cover photo for Ray Powell's Obituary
1925 Ray 2016

Ray Powell

July 31, 1925 — June 22, 2016

Ray Snider Powell

Ray Snider Powell was born July 31, 1925 in Juab Station, Levan, Utah in the home of his parents. He was born to Eugene and Mabel Snider Powell. He was the third of four children. He had an older brother, Eugene, sister, Anne, and a younger sister, Beth. He grew up on the ranch where they raised cattle, turkeys, and sheep and grew hay and potatoes.

When he was about seven he had tonsillitis. He had fevers, but they couldn't decide what was wrong for sure. They even pulled a tooth or two thinking they were infected. Then they decided to take out his tonsils. His dad held his feet while the doctor removed his tonsils. He remembers that his feet being held hurt more that the operation!

His first experience with prayer came when he was eight. His father sent him out to the meadow, about a mile away, to move the cows up to the house. When he got there, he found some of the claves had already been born and so the cows were pretty stubborn to move, quite scattered hidden in the brush. He had the feeling of hopelessness as he looked out over the 80 acres of scattered cattle. Then he thought that praying might help. Having never prayed before he wasn't sure how to start or what to say. He got off his horse and got to his knees and just began thinking of the cattle and their need to be cared for while they were calving. Then he got to his feet, mounted the horse and started home. Ray got to the second gate and when he looked back the cattle were standing together as they were ready to go. He rode back and soon had them all rounded up and started home.

Ray was baptized this year and for the first time he could remember he went to Church that Sunday. He wasn't sure what it was all about but after his mom tried to explain it to him, he knew that because of being baptized he better not do anything bad or something bad would happen to him.

Ray joined the Boy Scouts and really enjoyed the games and activities that came with it. This was the first he became involved with others of his own age. He stayed in Levan on Tuesday nights with his sister, Anne, so he could attend Scout meetings.

His horse, Old Dick, was his best friend. They were together all the time. Some people asked him if he would enter a horse race with Old Dick in Levan on the 4th of July. He got up at 4:30 in the morning and rode Old Dick eight miles to Levan so he could give him so time to rest before the race started at 11:00. They got off to a poor start but pretty soon Old Dick pulled out in front and stayed there. Ray felt Old Dick was going to burst and tried to pull him up but his horse refused to slow down. They crossed the finish line and won the race.

It seemed like people knew who Ray was after that and he began to get more involved in a lot of things at school and made a lot of friends. After so many years of living basically an isolated life he had discovered the wonderful world of people and he found that he liked it quite well. He went to Juab High School in Nephi, Utah. Because of these friends Ray took seminary and studied the Old Testament.

One of his teachers told him about a vocational school that was starting in Provo and that he could register to go. He took a bus at noon and spend four hours in the field of his choice. He took aircraft mechanics, welding and fabrication for aircraft. His class built a plane from scratch and towed it to the Provo airport where a World War I pilot flew it! He was offered a job with Pan Am airlines but decided not to go.

World War II had been going for some time and Ray decided to enlist in the Air Force (then known as the Army Air Corps). He was about six months too young so he took extra classes to get earn his diploma early in January and he enlisted in February. Ray went to basic training in Truxfield, Texas, and then went to radio and radar schools in Wisconsin, Illinois and Florida.

Ray left to go overseas in March. At Clark Air Force base in the Philippines he trained aircraft navigators to operate the radio equipment that had been installed on the planes but never used because no one knew how. He was assigned to the 308 troop carrier group which flew paratroops to drop areas. When he was in Okinawa, there were seven planes loaded with a crew and 27 paratroopers that took off. He was assigned as the navigator on his plane being a non-commissioned officer--Staff Sergeant. The other planes had commissioned officers as navigators. They hadn't been out too long when the fight hit a storm front. It wasn't too difficult at first to stay with the flight plan and follow the squadron leader and stay in formation. But it wasn't long until they couldn't see each other. The wipers were as if they weren't there.

The pilot asked Ray what they should do since the radar equipment wouldn't work in such a storm. He told him they would have to fly a course that would take them up and out of the storm path. The pilot got permission from the squadron commander to do so as they didn't have a commissioned officer as navigator on board. The other six planes would continue to fly through the storm. For the next eight hours he had a feeling of heavy responsibility for those 31 people on the plane. The pilot asked him which direction they should go and he knew he needed some help, so he said a small prayer and was given the shortest distance to get out of the storm. This direction was almost in reverse. But it worked because it wasn't long until they were away from the center of the storm far enough to see which direction it was going. They were able to go around the storm and then the radar equipment began to work. When they landed they were about two hours late. When they went into the operations they didn't see any of the other planes and found out that no one had heard from them. They waited but none of them showed up. They were all given up for lost. The pilot came over to thank Ray and he told the pilot that they were safe because a prayer was answered.

After this that pilot seemed to single Ray out whenever he went on a mission. One of these missions was to fly fresh water into Japan after the occupation of Japan. On the way back to Okinawa their plane had trouble. It was evident they were going to crash land on the open sea. It was raining and the sea was rough which made it bad. The pilot called him and asked what they should do. Ray suggested praying as the first step to the pilot. The pilot got on the intercom and told everyone aboard to pay attention and asked ray to go ahead. As he began to pray, he knew everything would be okay. The prayer was short and when he finished, the pilot asked him to come up front. He looked out the window and saw that it was still raining but the water was as smooth as glass. The pilot made a perfect belly landing. They decided to stay with the plane as long as possible. They were several hours away from any land but the Navy plane had started looking for them. It became dark but the clouds were gone and it was clear and clam. A short time later they heard a plane over head. They opened the window and climbed out that way and soon all were rescued. As the plane took off they saw the plane sinking out of sight, about sixteen hours after it had gone down.

With the war over Ray returned home. He wasn't sure what the future was going to hold. He knew there wasn't enough land on the ranch to support another family. His father encouraged him to continue learning and growing and put use what he had already experienced.

When Ray returned home, he became reacquainted with a good friend from high school, Elaine Kenner. He asked her out and they began seeing each other quite often. They fell in love and became engaged. Elaine told him that she wanted to get married in the LDS Temple. Ray had no priesthood at this point and no real interest in the Church.

He began college in Logan and Elaine remained in Nephi. This separation was difficult but they were finally married April 16, 1947. The marriage took place at Elaine's home in Mona with their families. That same day he showed up with their first car--a 1937 Chevrolet business coup. A year later they were sealed in the Manti Temple.

They had three children, Stephen, Gwen and Evelyn while they were living in Nephi. When Stephen was born Ray stopped college and began working full time. They eventually moved to Spanish Fork where he began selling cars for Jack Gridley. This was a profession he really enjoyed because he was able to relate to people. He was honest and people knew this so they would drive from miles around to buy a car from him. He had a customer who wanted to buy a car Ray knew he couldn't afford and refused to sell it to him. He worked in the automotive industry for about forty years.

Ray had a love for fishing, hunting, bowling, golfing and playing pinochle. A lot of this interest for these hobbies he passed on to many of his grandchildren. They loved being with him while he and his brother would tell story after story of growing up on the ranch.

Ray became very active in the church and his testimony grew. He served as a Temple worker with Elaine for over eleven years and held many church callings. After their children were married, Ray and Elaine became part of a family home evening group with some of their ward members. Studying the gospel with this group of people became a very important part of their lives. It was such a significant part of Ray's life that after we moved to the VA home he began a study group there even though the branch there already had a family home evening night.

When he retired he looked for numerous ways to serve. One of the most enjoyable for him was making toy cars with his high priest group to be distributed to children in 39 countries. For a lot of these children the toy car was the first toy they had ever owned.

Ray found himself doing more and more of the cooking for him and Elaine. In doing so, he found another fun interest--he loved baking bread. He would bake his batch of bread every week and always have plenty on hand to go with his homemade apricot and strawberry jam. When Christmas time rolled around he experimented with baking Christmas treats such as pumpkin rolls to take to his neighbors.

With Elaine's health failing, he became her loving caregiver. Elaine passed away five years ago and as Ray's health declined, he decided he would move to the Central Utah Veteran's Home in Payson. There he met and became friends with many of the residents and a lot of the professionals. Even though he was only there for eight months he learned and grew from those around him and them from him. While he was there he had the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight. This recognizes veterans for their sacrifice and service. He was able to travel with his son, Steve to Washington, D.C. and visit many of the memorials erected to honor these wonderful veterans.

Ray loved his family. His grandchildren and great grandchildren got to come play with Grandma and Grandpa ( favorites was to have a ride in Grandpa's red golf cart) and then would know that before they left Grandpa would share his testimony with them.

At the age of 90 and after he had done what the Lord had given him to do here on earth, Ray passed away June 22, 2016.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2016 in the Spanish Fork 3rd Ward, 575 West 400 North. Family and friends may call at the church one hour prior to the services. Interment will be in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.
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