PANDORA - Ray L. Burkholder, 96 of Pandora, Ohio beloved father, retired farmer, and renowned National Weather Service Observer departed this life Thursday, October 17, 2013 at the Hilty Memorial Home, Pandora surrounded by his family. He was born July 3, 1917 in rural Pandora, Putnam County to the late Christian C. and Bertha (Zuercher) Burkholder. Following the death of his mother in 1921 Ray resided with his paternal uncle and aunt, Amos and Katie Burkholder, until his father's marriage to Irma (Foltz) in 1925.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, step-mother, and loving wife of 71 years, Elvina Ellen (Burry), and siblings: Velma (Weldon) Basinger, Elda Mae Burkholder, Vera (Virgil) Allgire, Jessie (Charles) Nash, Clare Burkholder, and Laura Stall.
He is survived by brother-in-law, Dr. Robert (Laura) Stall, and sister-in-law Ginny (Clare) Burkholder. Also survived by children: David (Tisha) Burkholder of Bradenton, Florida; Sara Beth (Roland) Etter of Pandora; Carolyn (Rev. Brian) Haller of Swanton; Betty (Wayne) Yarnell of Continental; Donald (Darlene) Burkholder of Ottawa; Dean (Jini) Burkholder of Phoenix, Arizona; Janice (Joe) Edman of Bluffton; Debra (Thomas) Johnson of Ft. Wayne, Indiana; and Barbara (Guy) Verhoff of Pandora. He is also survived by 32 grandchildren, 64 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren.
Ray graduated from Crawfis College summa cum laude in 1935 and attended Bluffton University until joining the family farming business. He enjoyed a successful career in agriculture until retirement in 1976.
He was a life-long member of Grace Mennonite Church, Pandora, of which his mother was a charter member. Ray served for years as Sunday School Treasurer and at the time of his death was the oldest member of the congregation. He was a member and officer of Mennonite Disaster Service active in relief efforts throughout Ohio, especially following the 1974 Xenia, Ohio tornado disaster.
Ray was elected twice to the Pandora-Gilboa School District Board of Education and served as volunteer track and field coach. He was recognized and honored numerous times by the Village of Pandora for his contributions to his community.
He was nationally known for his sixty-plus years as an observer for the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which awarded him the Thomas Jefferson Award, John Campanius Holm Award, Edward H. Stoll Award, and Benjamin Franklin Award in recognition of the completeness and accuracy of his daily weather observations, and several tributes to Ray were entered into the congressional record. His weather statistics appeared in numerous local newspapers.
Visitation will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Grace Mennonite Church, 502 East Main Street, Pandora, Ohio on Sunday, Oct.20., 2013 from 1:30 P.M. until 8 p.m. and on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. until time of the funeral. Funeral will be held Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Grace Mennonite Church with interment following at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, Pandora. The Rev. Dennis Schmidt, Pastor of Grace Mennonite Church, Presiding; and Pastor Brian Haller, Preaching.
The Burkholder Family would like to thank the staff of the Hilty Memorial Home for their kindness and compassion towards both Elvina and Ray.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials in Ray's name be made to the P-G Athletic Boosters, % Jim Ridge, 409 Hawthorne Dr., Pandora, OH 45877 designated for completion of track renovation, or a charity of the donor's choice.