Ray Southgate Rucker Jr. of Rolla, Missouri was born in Mexico, Missouri on August 6, 1932 to Ray S. Sr. and Jessie (Stark) Rucker and passed away Monday, July 13, 2020 at the age of 87 years.
Ray married Catherine “Cay” (Bullman) Rucker.
Ray was a U.S. Army veteran having served in the Korean War.
Ray was a larger-than-life character but came by it honestly. A child of the great depression, he told stories of his grandmother only removing half of her money from the bank because other people needed some too.
He developed his strong work ethic working along-side his entrepreneur father who started multiple businesses such as the Rolla bus line and the Rolla swimming pool, only to be felled by repeated bouts of tuberculosis. A self-made man, Ray’s first business was hauling coal clinkers when he was a kid. He saved his money and bought a wheelbarrow, allowing him to expand his business. As an adult, he sold heating oil, ran a quarry, operated a crane, owned a Conoco station and was best known as the owner of Rolla Standard.
Growing up during a period of poverty and segregation, Ray developed strong beliefs against inequality, often sneaking his friends into the pool at night after it closed and later becoming a card carrying member of the NAACP.
Ray and his wife Cay bought a farm outside town and called it the Funny Farm. Ray was a self-proclaimed “Gentleman Farmer” and often said, “I never learned anything about farming that didn’t cost me money.” A fan of playing sports with his friends growing up, Ray enjoyed a friendly late night game of pool or darts in his later years.
Whether traveling the world to China, Africa or Australia or being the king of the five minute conversation, Ray never met a stranger.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ray Sr. and Jessie Rucker; his wife, Catherine “Cay” in 1995; his son, Luke Rucker; and one brother, Booker Rucker.
He is survived by three daughters, Tammy Smith and husband J.D. of Rolla, Missouri, Courtney Snelson and husband Mark of St. James, Missouri and Amy Rucker and James Schuck of Columbia, Missouri; one brother, Stark Rucker and wife Penny of Melbourne, Australia; four grandchildren, Mary Plasse and husband Simon, Sherry Smith, Casey Snelson and wife Sarah and Ella Snelson; two great grandchildren, Sydney Plasse and Will Snelson; other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Arrangements under the direction of the Null and Son Funeral Home in Rolla, Missouri.
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