Ray T. Lehman, a resident of Muskogee since 1946, died on April 7, 2013 in Philadelphia, PA, following a prolonged bout of pneumonia..
Ray was born on a farm near Guthrie, OK, on October 29, 1920, to Edna Ruth Cochran and Josiah Edward II . His father died when he was 6, forcing his mother and four siblings to move from their farm into Guthrie. “She managed to eke out a living as a school teacher on the grand sum of $720 a year--$80 a month, for nine months out of the year,” he said of his mother. “We had a big garden, a cow and some chickens.”
Always industrious, Ray landed his first job in third grade delivering newspapers, the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal around Guthrie for about $.50 a week. Even at that age, his strong work ethic was evident, and he advanced to distributor, supervising several neighborhood delivery boys. This was during the Great Depression, and he often used his earnings to buy things for the family that they might not otherwise have had. During his high school years in Guthrie, he worked the soda fountain at a drug store and sold shoes at JC Penney. (The woman who was to become his wife drank lots of sodas and shopped for lots of shoes!)
Ray graduated in 1942 from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration, remaining an avid OU football fan throughout his life. An ROTC cadet, he was called to active duty after Pearl Harbor and shipped out for North Africa on the troop ship SS Slaughterdike on April 1, 1943. He began his army career as a 1st Lt with the Quartermaster Corps, and later assumed command of a truck company with the 5th Army, serving in North Africa and Italy, including the Salerno and Anzio campaigns. “We hauled supplies, ammunition and gasoline to the frontline troops and could move a whole unit in 72 hours—a long time to go without sleep,” he said. Before going overseas, he married Margaret Ann McLeod on January 20, 1943 in Guthrie.
After the war, he and Margaret Ann moved to Muskogee and started a general insurance company; however, Ray was called back to active duty during the Korean Conflict, serving as an infantry instructor at Camp Chafee, AR. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army with the rank of Major.
After Korea, Ray and Margaret Ann returned to Muskogee, where he joined H. B. Egan Manufacturing Co., becoming sales manager and later, Vice President and General Manager, for the company’s Camel brand tire patches and other automotive goods. Under his guidance, Egan became the leading US manufacturer of these products, sold all over the world. Ray retired as Chairman of Egan in 1986, becoming a business management consultant.
Ray always believed in giving back to his community. He was a former board member, president and executive director of the Greater Muskogee Development Corporation and was honored by them in 2008 with a Special Recognition Award. He was active in the Community Chest and United Way fund drives for 15 years, was Chairman of the Muskogee County Red Cross, and active on the boards of the Muskogee Regional Medical Center, the First United Methodist Church, and Habitat for Humanity.
In addition to Margaret Ann, he is survived by his sons Edward of New York City, and John, John’s wife, Christine Carlson, and their two children, Ellen and Carlson, of Philadelphia and his sister-in-law, Dolores Lehman, formerly of Ft. Gibson, OK. He was preceded in death by his sister, Carol (Carl) Castle, brothers Edward, George and Robert (Beverly). He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and their children.
Services are to be Friday April 12, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. in the First United Methodist Church with Reverend Jack Kemper officiating.
Graveside services will be held at Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, OK on Saturday April 13, 2013 at 12 noon.
In Lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Muskogee Chapter of the American Red Cross or the First United Methodist Church
Family will greet friends at the funeral from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30p.m. on Thursday April 11, 2013
Friends may send condolences at www.bradleyfuneralservice.com