Ray Houser (June 22, 1935 - March 20, 2015)
Raymond E. Houser, 79, of Iola, Kansas, died Friday, March 20, 2015, at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, Donna, and granddaughter, Morgan Rae Lent, by his side.
Raymond was born June 22, 1935 in Leon, Kansas to Maurice Eugene Houser and Georgia Ann (Hollis) Houser. A teacher greatly influenced him in the fifth grade telling him he was "not dumb", and he spent the rest of his life reading and learning. He graduated from El Dorado High School with honors in 1953 and El Dorado JUCO in 1955. While attending JUCO, Ray met the love of his life, Donna Snyder, at a basketball game in February of 1954. Ray and Donna dated for two years. During that time, Ray got a football scholarship to Southwestern College, but lost the scholarship when he tore up his knee in football. Unable to afford college, he went to work in the oil fields until being drafted. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he returned home and married Donna on June 19, 1959.
Ray returned to college while working full-time, and their first daughter, Laura, was born in March 1961. Ray graduated cum laude from Wichita University in 1962 and began his teaching and coaching career in Lamar, Colorado. Their second daughter, Darla, was born in September 1962. After nine months in Lamar, Ray returned to El Dorado to teach in the junior high and was assistant football, head wrestling and baseball coach in the high school. In 1965, his wrestling team took 2nd in the state tournament. He was asked to take over the El Dorado American Legion baseball team in 1965. That team won the district championship in Augusta and played in the state tournament in Salina. His 1966 team won the district tournament in El Dorado, the state tournament in Chanute and placed third in the National Regional tournament in Bismarck, North Dakota. Ray Houser was elected to the El Dorado Baseball Hall of Fame 2000, because he was the only El Dorado American Legion coach to win a State Legion Championship since 1926.
Upon returning from Bismarck, Ray joined his family in Iola, Kansas. Ray had accepted the high school football head coaching job and assistant boy's basketball coach, positions he held for nine years. Ray also coached junior high golf. He then moved to junior high (later, middle school) where he served as a teacher and coach. Ray was involved in football, boys' and girls' basketball, and golf. His freshman girls' basketball team reeled off thirty-two consecutive wins in two perfect seasons.
Ray served on the Circle B Boy's Ranch Board and the Iola Library Board and was a docent at the Allen County Historical Society and Bowlus Fine Arts Center. Ray fondly remembered Parent's Day at WSU in 1983 when the whole family was involved, and his inductions into the El Dorado Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and later as one of the players from the 1952-53 baseball team.
Ray retired in 1997 after thirty-five years of teaching (31) in Iola. Ray's retirement was filled with golfing, traveling, painting, attending Bowlus events, working at the historical society, reading, watching Shocker basketball, and being involved in his grandkids' lives. During the last few months of his life, he received a signed poster from the WSU basketball team, and we know he cheered his beloved Shockers into the Sweet 16. Ray often said he wanted to leave this world just a little better than when he entered it, and he did.
Ray was preceded in death by his entire immediate family (father, Maurice Houser; step-dad, Thomas Walden; mother, Georgia Walden; brothers, Roy and Dee Houser, and half-brother, Tom Walden) and his son-in-law, Jake Epper.
Ray leaves behind: Donna, his beloved wife and best friend of almost 56 years; daughter, Darla (Houser) Epper (Dunedin, Florida); daughter, Laura (Houser) Lent and "son" John Lent (Wichita, Kansas); his favorite granddaughter, Morgan Rae Lent (Wichita, Kansas) and his favorite grandson, Garrett Paul Lent (State College, Pennsylvania).
Visitation with Family: April 10, 2015 from 6-8 pm at Waugh-Yokum & Friskel Chapel in Iola, Kansas.
Non Denominational Memorial Service: April 11, 2015 at 10:30 am at St. John Parish Hall in Iola, Kansas.
In lieu of flowers, memorials have been set up with: Friends of the Bowlus, the Iola Public Library, and the El Dorado Baseball Hall of Fame.
Click Here to read more about why Mr. Houser was inducted into the El Dorado Baseball Hall of Fame.