The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

Meet Your Neighbor Raymond West of Stronghurst's Oak Wood Estates, who will be 90 years old on May 24th.

His parents were Fred and LaVina West.

Raymond was born in Bluffs, a small town between Hannibal and Springfield. He moved with his parents to Buffalo, Missouri then Oklahoma for a short time and back to Missouri, then at the age of 12 he moved with his family to Biggsville for a short time and then moved to the Stronghurst area.

He graduated from 8th grade at Cork School between Terre Haute and Stronghurst. and went to Stronghurst his freshman year until the war.

His dad worked by the month farming and moved to Burlington, Iowa and worked at the I.A.A.P. until after the war. Raymond attended his Sophomore year in school in Burlington, Iowa.

When World War II started he quit school after his sophomore year. He went to the courthouse and asked when his number was coming up. They had lost his number and then when they found it said, "you're to be called in the next draft." His friends had already been drafted.

Ray said he worked a year at the Midwest Biscuit Company and then on April 29, 1943, he was drafted.

Raymond said, "I went to Des Moines, Iowa and after the physical I choose the Navy over the Army and the Marines. I went to Faragut, Idaho for boot camp and after that was shipped to Hawaii. I was there for a little over 2 years and helped raise the ships the Japanese had sunk."

After coming home for 30 days he was sent to California and put on the USS Callisto. The war was over so he was in harbor at San Francisco.

He contracted blood poisoning from a splinter in his hand and was in the hospital for 20 days and then returned home on April 29, 1946 with an honorable discharge.

Raymond had been writing a pretty Carman girl, Doris Bowlyou which he met when he lived in Illinois. They had married while he was on leave December 25, 1945.

They moved on the farm in Columbus Junction, Iowa for two years and worked farming by the month and then farmed for himself there for five years. While living in Columbus Junction, Iowa he and Doris had two children. Judy and Mike.

Today, Judy West (Gravgaard) is a retired bookkeeper and is presently employed by the Henderson County Health Department. She had lived in Farmington, New Mexico for 20 plus years prior to moving back to Biggsville.

Their son is Mike (Peggy) West who lives in Biggsville. Mike is employed by W.W. Transport and his wife Peggy is employed at Casey State Bank in Biggsville.

His chidren have given him six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Raymond and Doris moved from Columbus Junction, Iowa back to Illinois where they lived in Stronghurst for a short time and he farmed for a few months and then moved to Biggsville and was employed by Bob Burkett at "Burketts International Implement' in Biggsville as a parts man.

Later on a group of guys started, "The Farm Store" in Biggsville and Raymond supervised it for a few years.

Raymond retired and they moved into a home behind the former Country Fun Bowling Alley which they completely remodeled.

Special vacations were the times he and Doris visited New Mexico to see their daughter, Judy and family.

But they also enjoyed many other trips. Raymond said he has been in every state west of the Mississippi and most of the eastern states.

They traveled to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, Niagara Falls, Redwood Forest, Statue of Liberty in New York, Wisconsin Dells, Washington DC several times, traveled to Detroit, Michigan to see the Ford Automotive Company, Branson, Missouri a couple of times and visited relatives in Missouri a lot where his parents were born and raised. He has relatives in Buffalo, Conway, and Springfield, MO.

At one time he enjoyed bowling, enjoyed some fishing, and was a member of the Biggsville Lions Club, the Biggsville American Legion.

Raymond and his wife Doris joined the Stronghurst Christian Church at the age of 30 and remained active members.

They both were involved in church activities which included the evening services held on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights.

They traveled to Florida to a children's home for 2 or 3 years in a row as the couple would work for a month and a half doing mission work of whatever was needed done at the home.

Doris passed away last year, December 31, 2012 and Raymond truly misses her. He said their travels were not complete.

"There are still places east of the Mississippi that I've never been, especially Maine and a lot of the Northeastern New England states. I would still like to see them."