Sunday Stories: J. Ray and Margaret King

J. Ray, birth name John Ray, but known to all of his associates and friends as J. Ray; was born November 10, 1915, and was the son of Clarence E. and Grace Ella (Eickmeier) King. He was born and raised south of Sutherland. When J. Ray was three years old, his mother passed away in the 1917 flu epidemic. Clarence E. later was remarried to Grace Anna Shaw Hughes.
J. Ray and Margaret King
J. Ray met and later married Margaret Wherry, daughter of Henry and Anna Wherry on December 24, 1934. Margaret was born May 20, 1915, at Beatrice, Nebraska and came to Sutherland to live with a sister when she was 15 years old. Upon their marriage, J. Ray and Margaret immediately moved to the farm two miles west of the Riverview Cemetery, and lived there until Ray’s death.
Margaret remained on the farm for three more years, and then retired, moved to North Platte.

J. Ray and Margaret are the parents of three children, two daughters, Beverly (Mrs. Jim) Colburn of Sutherland, and Norma (Mrs. Robert) Wright of Chappell, Nebraska. One son, Wayne “Butch” of Sutherland, Nebraska. J. Ray and Margaret are the grandparents of 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

J. Ray was on the School Board for 21 years. He became a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; became Grand Master of the Lodge on State level in 1961. In 1972, he was elecgted Sovereign Grand Master of the World of the I.O.O.F. In this capacity, they were able to travel all of Canada, five Scandinavian countries, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Iceland, and all of the United States.

The Nebraska Farmer magazine had nominated J. Ray for the honor of being the best Nebraska farmer in 1941.

J. Ray was active in all service works in the community, and served on the Co-Op Board for 20 years. He was an active member of the Sutherland Methodist Church.

Margaret helped start 4-H in Sutherland in 1945, and was a Club Leader for 18 years. She was active in church and community work that kept her very busy.

J. Ray’s father, Clarence E. King, built the house now (in 1991) located at the outlet of the Sutherland Reservoir, in 1916. All the “King Kids” grew up in this home. It was later purchased by Nebraska Public Power District and moved to the present location.

Irrigation became a very important item on the King farm. Pipe irrigation appeared first in the community on the King farm, and by 1982, the farm had five circle or pivot irrigation systems on it.

Many different men worked for the Kings. Margaret regrets not having kept a diary of all the many events, changes and local happenings.

J. Ray passed away January 6, 1984 and is buried at the Sutherland Cemetery. Margaret passed away on August 16, 1994.


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