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Raymond Palmer Whitfield, Jr.

Obituary for Raymond Palmer Whitfield, Jr.

January 17, 1925 - March 22, 2018
Austin, Texas | Age 93

Obituary

Ray Whitfield passed away, peacefully on March 22, 2018 at age 93. He was born January 17, 1925 in San Antonio to Raymond and Mary Bennett Whitfield. He had one younger sibling, Charlotte Whitfield Hogan, who predeceased him.

Ray's life journey, vocationally, was very rich. His interest in the military service began with his father's WWII position as Adjutant General of training command. After serving as the Colonel of his high school ROTC, he accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

While on six weeks' leave between West Point graduation in 1946 and the start of his flight training in Enid, Oklahoma, Ray met his future wife, Ila Pierce, in San Antonio. They fell in love through letters and were married in October of 1946. Luckily, Ray was stationed in Fort Worth training in B-29's and then assigned to the Strategic Air Command. Before leaving the Air Force, he earned a master's degree in Industrial Engineering at Ohio State University.

After the Air Force years, Ray became the Industrial Engineer for Mrs. Baird's Bread bakeries all over Texas. By this time, Ray and Ila had three children (Steve, Paula, and Greg) and chose to settle in Arlington, Texas. In 1962 the family relocated to Dallas, Texas, where Ray subsequently went into the newly rising field of computers. He formed his own company and sold software, ending up working for Honeywell in Dallas.

Ray was a family man, always putting the needs of his family first. During the parenting years to quote him directly: "We all became 'water people'. I bought a ski boat and we all became proficient water skiers." He also spoke of our Dallas home this way: "Our home was always presided over by Ila and bulging with kids, both ours and others. During those years all of our spiritual lives deepened in varying degrees."

In 1977, Ray accepted a call to go to seminary in Austin to become an Episcopal priest, a vocation that had been growing in desire since his twenties. In 1979, he graduated from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest and began serving on staff at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the Tarrytown area of Austin. During his second year of ministry, his wife, Ila, died in June of 1981 of leukemia at age 57. This was a devastating, unexpected blow for the whole family.

Ray continued working on staff at Good Shepherd where he met his second wife, Roberta Raithel, who was a parishioner there. They married, and Ray spent another nine years in parish ministry, after which they retired to travel the world.

Together, Ray and Roberta had an active and fulfilling life in retirement. For years, they traveled the world on cruise ships, working as members of the ships' crews and making friends from all over the world. Ray thought his most fruitful ministry was on those cruises, especially with the crew. When staffers were just getting off work at 3:00 a.m., Ray would be there to lead a service even if it meant both he and Roberta had to set an alarm clock! They took Ray's children and spouses on several cruises where we all met for dinner every evening to share our days' experiences. These were wonderful times together as an adult family.

Ray also continued to serve congregations either as an interim priest or a supply priest. On several occasions, Ray and Roberta lived for a month in Petersfield, England, so that he could free the vicar of St. Mary's Anglican Church for a vacation. They made dear friends there. One of his greatest gifts to his priest son-in-law, Parker, was taking Christmas morning services so that his son-in-law could be home with his family.

He continued to grow and learn, as well, graduating with a Doctor of Ministry from the Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame and in 1992 publishing Freedom to Love: A Theology for Living. He loved icons and studied them in Jerusalem and Russia and enjoyed sharing his love through classes. He found joy in exercising his gift of teaching.

Before it was popular (and expensive!), Ray and his first wife, Ila, became avid wine connoisseurs. They hosted many wine tastings for friends in order to share their enthusiasm. He was also an accomplished and experienced sailor, boat owner, and bare boat captain. He likened the physics of sailing to the physics of flying.

When anyone ever complimented Ray on something, his response many times was "The women in my life just make me look good!" And his and Roberta's answer to anyone who asked how they were doing, was always, "Better than I deserve to be."

He took every opportunity that came along in life and gave it his all. Despite having Type II diabetes for many decades, he managed it and himself in his characteristic West Point disciplined way, never letting it or any of his other health issues get in the way of living a full life. His faith was his constant plumb line.

Ray is survived by his wife, Roberta, (as shown above), and his three children: Stephen Ray Whitfield and wife, Rosa; Paula Whitfield Jameson and husband, Parker; and Gregory Pierce Whitfield and wife, Robyn. He is also survived by five grandchildren: Stephanie Whitfield Jagen and husband, Mike; Geoffrey Whitfield and wife, Mandy; Nicholas Whitfield and wife, Stefanie; Sterling Jameson and wife, Madison; and Marcus Jameson. He had seven great grandchildren: Adam, Matthew, and Eliana Jagen; Ashlyn and Liam Whitfield; and Parker and Isla Jameson. There are several beloved nieces and nephews and one sister-in-law, Jackie Lewis, who will miss him dearly, too.

A memorial service in celebration of Ray's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, March 26, 2018 at St. Luke's on the Lake Episcopal Church, 5600 RR 620 North, Austin,Texas. A reception will follow at the church. Private burial with family only will take place earlier.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to the charity of your choice.

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  • Memorial donations may be made in his name to the charity of your choice.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home Lake Travis

411 Ranch Rd. 620 S.
Lakeway, TX 78734
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