Ray Pearson

Thursday, November 1, 2018
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After a joyous life of 88 years, Ray Pearson passed from our lives into his new life in Heaven on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. Ray was born on July 17, 1930, to Carl and Rosalyn Pearson in the railroad town of Alberton, Montana. He was the oldest of three children and attended elementary school in Alberton. At age 13 he moved to Livingston to live with his maternal grandparents, Max and Bertha Lange. During his high school years, along with playing baseball and football, Ray worked delivering groceries and at his “fun” job of putting the sticks in the fudge bars at Wilcoxson’s Dairy. Summers took him to his uncle’s ranch on the Bozeman Pass, where he learned to work hard so he could have “fishing” time in the many trout creeks around the ranch. Upon graduation from Park County High in 1948, Ray worked at Downer Lumber and the Ideal Bakery. During this time, he met his lifelong love, Elaine Joy (Dolly) Hole. They were married on Dec. 14, 1950. He served in the Army Reserves the first six years of their married life.

In 1954, Ray began his life’s career of “railroading” at Northern Pacific Railroad as a carman. Moving up to becoming a brakeman on the North Coast Limited meant a move to Billings in 1957. When passenger trains ended service through southern Montana, he worked as a surveyor at Sage and Mueller Engineering. Trains were his first love, however, and when Burlington Northern needed switchmen, he “switched” gears and worked in the Billings and Laurel rail yards. He missed his “people” trains, so when the opportunity arose to take the conductors’ exam with Amtrak, he did so and passed with flying colors. He and Dolly moved up to Shelby where he worked the Shelby to Minot, North Dakota run until his retirement in 1992.

A move back to Billings started his volunteer years. He spent much of his time working with the school district at sporting events. He became an election official to work at the polls and in his spare time, delivered phone books. He was a member of the Mustangs Baseball Fan Club for over 25 years and saw many a future MLB star begin right here. His love of and faith in his Red Sox must have given them the edge to win the World Series this year.

He and Dolly enjoyed many activities together, such as square dancing at the Shiloh Barn and ballroom dancing at the Elks Club, where he was a lifetime member. They were both active at the Billings Senior Center, where he called Bingo each week for 15 years. Ray loved all sports and this will carry on through his children, his grandchildren and their children. Whether fishing, bowling, dancing, swimming or playing ball, he was a family man. We are all blessed to have shared in his life. He will be missed by his family and his many friends from coast to coast.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Dick Pearson; and his daughter, Jane Helen.

He is survived by his wife, Elaine (Dolly); his four children and their spouses: Rosalyn (Jim) Fleming, Raye Ann (Romona) Pearson, Randy (Jeanne) Pearson and Lori (Bob) Miller; his grandchildren: Lynna, Jasem, Kirklan, Brenten, Julie, Zach, Josh, Noah, Ben, Sam and Simon; 12 great-grandchildren; his sister, Judy Bangerter; his in-laws, Jay and Sherlene Hole and Bea, and John Cole; and many loving cousins, nieces and nephews.

Our family would like to thank St. John’s Lutheran Ministry and the Billings Clinic for the kindness and caring they provided not only for our dad, but for his family as well. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Now, as Ray would say, he went “All Aboard” for his final train ride.