Raymond Dale Hartley of Smithville, Mo., died suddenly on July 6, 2019, following a freak camp fire explosion.*

[*In truth, Ray died at Northcare Hospice House in Kansas City after a long battle with heart disease and renal failure, but he didn’t want to go out from something that sounded typical. Anyway, he would have thought the campfire bit made for a better story.]

Born in Princeton, Mo., on Sept.11,1948, to James Eldon Hartley and Anna Louise (Bower) Hartley, Ray spent his childhood in Leon, Iowa, raised by his mother and stepfather (Clayton Lane) among a raucous group of five siblings. It’s pretty hard to grow up in a large family without learning a few important things about life: how to have a sense of humor; how to work hard, compete and think on your feet; how to be of service to others; how to be loyal; and how to love people through hard times. Ray learned those lessons.

He started working at age 10, packing water for the men at Midwest Construction (his father’s road construction company) before moving on to run equipment at the ripe old age of 11. He continued to work construction alongside his father and older brother for nearly a decade while holding a second job at Leon’s Super Value. After graduating from Decatur County High School in 1966, he attended Indian Hills Community College (1966-1968) and North East Missouri State (1968), while also serving in the Iowa Army National Guard and working construction on important Iowa infrastructure projects (e.g., Lake Rathbun Dam and Interstate 35). Ray’s intellect, quick wit and ease with people continued to serve him well after college. Throughout the years, he worked as a banker in Des Moines, and in Corydon, West Burlington and West Des Moines at numerous financial institutions. While working at various boat and auto dealerships in Johnston and Kansas City, Mo., he won multiple top sales awards. Loyal customers would often return to Ray from all over the country—a testament to his service and skill. After his semi-retirement at the age of 65, Ray continued to work as a mobile notary in the state of Missouri, before fully retiring due to health issues in 2018.

Ray’s life, however, wasn’t about work. He loved driving fast cars and boats. He enjoyed a good drink and grilling a good steak. He loved meeting new people, good conversation, coffee and a good laugh. He loved the quiet of a front porch swing, strumming a guitar and singing. He loved golf, playing pool and cards, fishing and swimming in his grandad’s pond with his brothers, camping and canoeing with his family, teasing his nieces and nephews, spending time with his grandkids and wasting the day away at a game of lawn croquet. He knew how to have fun. And when things got serious, he knew how to listen. He was often a port in a storm during life’s rough waters. Mostly, he loved gathering family. We hope he’s waiting for us at the river on the other side…camp fire going…plenty of potatoes.

Ray is survived by his wife, JoEllen (Applegate) Hartley of Smithville, Mo.; son Patrick Hartley, wife Angie, and grandsons: Spencer, Xean and Mason of Leon; daughter Kimberly, husband Terry, and grandchildren, Ethan and Emma of Kansas City, Mo.; brother Robert Hartley and wife, Peggy, of Mt. Vernon, Mo.; brother Richard Hartley and wife, Lorraine of Chillicothe,Mo.; sister Deborah Applegate and husband, Allen, of Leon; and brother Jim Lane and wife, Judy, of Williamsburg; as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.

There will be no formal funeral services for Raymond, but friends and family are invited to meet for a gathering at Leon Golf and Country Club,1204 W. 1st Street, Leon on July 27 from 4 to  9 p.m. Peggy’s infamous “Turkey on a Ritz” will be served, per Ray’s last request.

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