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as of

hand reaching out
send Ray an e-mail note
Some of the family of Ray Downen      
Photo of sister Dottie Crouch - 1997
Photo of Jenny Farrar age 13
Photo of Sarah Farrar age 8
Photo of Connor Holmes age 1

Ray's Sister Dottie Crouch, her granddaughters Jenny Farrar(13) and Sarah Farrar (8), and 1-year-old Connor Holmes, son of Jared who is son of Dinah who is Dottie's daughter.

Brief news in 2009: Dottie, my sister has passed away. I've not updated with new pictures and news for many months now. I've passed my 80th birthday, June 16, 2009, and have been extremely busy with tracts and a new book I wish all my friends would send to and buy. It's RAISED INTO NEW LIFE. So the web site is neglected, still available, but with new material rarely added. I'd like to believe that Obama is qualified to serve as our president, but he blocks all documents which might prove or disprove it. If he was at one time a citizen, didn't his family have to sign away U.S. citizenship in Indonesia to enroll him in a Muslim grade school as a Muslim? Family news is always welcome also, of course.

And here's news received in Joplin 12/25/04 --
To: "Ray Downen" Subject: Re: Brave or foolish?

Your plan sounds a bit adventurous, considering the weather conditions in said environs, but then you've never been one to back down from a challenge! It's only snow! (In an e-mail to Dinah Jeanne, I had spoken of making the "dangerous" trip from Joplin, Missouri to Marshall, Illinois where my sister, her mother, Dottie is now living in a nursing home. Heavy snow had hit that area. I also spoke of visiting the "environs" of Marshall to be with others of the family.)

I'm sorry we'll miss you again. We're in central Florida again this winter...trying to make a living where there is work to do. Lana (Dinah Jeanne & Keith's daughter) & Josh are in New Mexico visiting with his family. Jared (Dinah Jeanne and Keith's son), Sara, Connor & Dawn are still in Hutsonville, at the farmhouse. ("In" in this case means near. Like most farms, the Holmes farm is not in town.)

Best wishes for a safe journey. May the Lord bless and keep you...

My main form of "keeping folks informed" consists of a "weblog" at and We use our cell phone for internet access, which is veeeeery slow, but get's the job done. That # is 605.390.1338 all the time. -- Love, DJ

Later pictures (1999) of Jenny & Sarah --

Jenny Farrar, 1999 Sarah Farrar, 1999

Sarah (10) /Jenny (15) 1999 Ray in 1948 or so
Sarah is 10 as 1999 ends, and Jenny 15. Ray now is 70.
Jaclyn Shepherd at 7 years of age
Jeffrey Shepherd at 6 years of age

My dad, Arthur Roy Downen, had a sister, Grace, and a brother, Larry. Larry had one daughter, Linda, who with her husband Jack had two boys, Jack and Larry. Pictured here are Linda and the three children of her son Jack Shepherd and his wife Jo. These are Jaclyn, 7, Jeffrey, 6, and Julie, 2 in 1997.
Linda (Downen)Shepherd in 1998

Julie Shepherd at 2 years of age

Here's Grace with me behind, then Jack & Jo and their children.
Ray Downen w/Grace Lewis, his aunt

Jack/Jo Shepherd w/children 

Mom had several sisters and brothers. J Ward, Mom's brother, with his wife Mildred, had a daughter Joanne -- Pictured are Pat and Joanne Bell and their children and grandchildren also -- On 8/13/98 I received word that they've moved now to Brownwood, TX so a change of address and more-recent news is available to any of their friends --

Photo of Pat & Joanne plus
from Uncle Dick's family
I lose track of names! Fine historian I turned out to be. These are a daughter of my Uncle Dick Hudson, mom's brother -- Sue Lyn Wagerle whose husband is Larry. They mention they went to Germany in September this year. Also pictured are their two children and their children -- Chad & Jennifer Howard and their Luke; and Mike, Megan, and Molly.

Mom's youngest sister, Velma, married Melvin Long. They had three boys, with whom we've not been able to keep in touch. How grand then to receive a note dated 7/18/99 from Velma's son Brian, with accompanying news from his wife Sandy about their family and her family. Brian wrote, "It's been so long since we've connected with one another. My wife Sandy composed the enclosed letter and thought that sending it to you with some additional Long family info would be of interest.

"I really enjoyed receiving from you family info about my mother's family the last time I heard from you.

"I hope things are well with you. You always had interesting experiences in your travels with the railroad (as a Railway Mail Clerk with an occasional trip to Memphis where the Longs then lived -- Ray). You're the one who introduced my brothers (Mike and Tim) and me to Scrabble. To this date I continue to enjoy it regularly with my wife Sandy. Years ago our little social group of about six met weekly for marathon Scrabble sessions...

"Sandy and I still live in Germantown, TN where we've been for 13 years. I work as an Employee Assistance professional for Methodist Healthcare. I've been in this type of counseling for nine years, but have been in this field for 25 years.

"My brothers are doing well. Mike has relocated back to Memphis from Hattiesburg MS where he was for several years after leaving Schlumberger. He's employed with Bell South. His first-generation children all live here (Becky, Michael, and Stephen).

"With his wife, Cathy, and daughter Stephanie, Tim lives in Anderson SC. He continues to be very entrepreneurial in various enterprises.

"We see each other annually at our Dad's in Flintstone, GA outside of Chattanooga TN. Dad and Rubye remain very together soul mates. Dad is able to play golf with us on our traditional Thanksgiving visit. He just turned 80 and has had to modify some lifestyle habits, but does fairly well considering.

"Please let us know about the past years..." -- Brian Long

Sandy's news includes the word that she and Brian plan to both have retired in another 8 years, at which time they hope to travel in the U.S. considerably by RV. At present, she's working part-time as a beautician.

And another of Dottie's granddaughters.

Tabi & Sheri (Farrar)Rice. 1997.

Sheri Farrar-Rice is
                          Jim & Barbara Farrar's middle girl.

I'm sorry to not yet have pictures of Jim & Barbara or their older girl, Hope Weber and her husband George. Barbara, for herself and Jim, wrote to me --   At Christmas time 1997 -- Uncle Ray, We hope you're doing well. We hope the candy we sent gets to you on time (it not only did -- it even got enjoyed already -- Jim and Barb live close to Robinson, Illinois where Heath bars are created, and Barb helps create). We're all fine. Jim and I are both working (as they are always willing to do if jobs are findable at all). And Hope and George also. Sheri is now twice-divorced. She's working and going to school, and has the sweetest and cutest little girl who brings us much enjoyment. Being grandparents brought out the best in us (Ray says--and they were mighty fine folks to start with!).

RAY ADDS 12/6/2009--I just talked with Jim on the telephone. Barb was away on family business so we didn't get to visit. Jim is now drawing disability after a stroke. Barb's still hard at work. The family is O.K. George and Hope have adopted a girl. Lana and Josh now live in Indiana. Jared and Susan have two children on the Holmes family farm. Lana and Jared of course being offspring of Dinah, Jim's sister. Rod's widow has remarried and the two girls are still living at home last I knew.

David Blanton plus ~ March '98

David Blanton is third from the left, back row, in the photo above. On his right are daughters Dana Blanton and Muriel "Ann" Rebecca Blanton Widener. On his left is son David Andrew Blanton, then Melissa Brook Blanton (graduated from Liberal (KS) High School in May '99) and son Jonathan Shane Blanton, with Kimberly Ann (Day) Blanton at the right. On the front row are Terry Roger Widener, Aaron Ross Widener, Darcy Rebecca Widener, Whitney Nacole Blanton, and Riley Curtis Widener, husband to Muriel "Ann." They were in Tucson, Arizona at the home of David's niece. David's half-sister, Rosalie (Yearout) Heinrecy, also lives in Tucson.

Below are pictured David's sister, Helen and more of the family. I intersperse an explanation -- My office is a marvel of carefully constructed piles. As projects are undertaken, projected OTHER projects get placed in a pile to be handled just as soon as time permits. The piles multiply and seldom diminish. A few weeks ago David sent me a simple listing of Gazaway Blanton's family from which he's descended and from which I'm descended. Which pile did I put it in? Now that I'm keeping other things waiting while I use it, where did it get placed? I sure don't know!

David Blanton's sister's family 1998

On May 6, 1999 David Blanton of Lamar, Colorado sent me a nice note and the pictures you see. He wrote, Ray, I have everything you sent me from 1981 through 1994. However, during the earlier portion of that period I was working in Denver (210 miles from Lamar) so left at 3 a.m. Mondays and got home about 9 p.m. Fridays, with house, yard, and family to care for. My now ex-wife cared for the children, and taught school, leaving the rest up to me, including meal preparation.

He mentions that he's been a member of a United Methodist church in Lamar since 1944, and also very active in both York Rite and Masonic Rite masonry, and is a Shriner.

Pat Hudson, another cousin of my mother's lives in retirement with his wife in Falls Church, Virginia. He sends greetings and the news that due to poor health he and Coletta did not get to drive to the Ozarks for a family reunion this summer as he had hoped to do, but he hopes that next year they'll get to drop by for a visit.

Pat sent me a card in 1999 to report that he is now confined to his home, and unable to travel. He invites family and friends to come and visit him.

Another cousin Mom called Kenneth, and he calls himself Tom Downey, lives in Rockville, Maryland. He sent a note in late fall -- Thanks for your August newsletter about the friends and family. I do keep in touch with Pat Hudson by telephone (and Christmas cards) now and then. Also the same with Hudson Kibler. I was sorry to hear that Neil Hudson had died last month (July 1997). He was a favorite of all his relatives. [Neil's widow, Lorine, after a stroke is able to speak only a little, and is in a nursing home at Anderson where they had lived all their married life together. (3/16/00) Only the note I mailed to her in December, 1999 was returned undeliverable.]

There's little of note going on here. We've been sticking pretty close to home, but are going to Ocean City a week after Labor Day.

I've appreciated your sending genealogy info in the past... Would appreciate getting your proposed quarterly family newsletters. This has been a long, hot summer. I hope you've been well. Keep in touch. -- Tom and Marjorie Downey, cousin of Morine Hudson Downen, my mother. -- written August 28, 1997.

When Joanne sent the picture, she included names and some news, which I put aside carefully so it could be included in the next news made available to the family. I spent 30 minutes looking for it, and after I'd given up, found it! She wrote after Thanksgiving, 1997 (when the picture above was taken), and says, "See what I have to be thankful for! A wonderful family, and I truly thank God, every day. We are all well. Mother is doing pretty well also. Tell Dottie 'Hello' for me. I'd love to see you all." But I was wrong about her having included the names to go with her good family. The picture includes a son and two daughters, with other family.

I received news from Wanda Gregg in Washington state. I've forgotten how our cousinship happened, but I'm glad for it. She reports from Seattle that she is writing a brief Christmas newsletter because she's done "nothing" the whole year. So she reports that her daughter with the daughter's husband took her to Seattle's Food Fair this year and she sampled food and found it delicious. That was something. She didn't really do nothing.

Wanda says that her son-in-law is going through a series of ear surgeries which is resulting in much improved hearing for him. Her daughter, Becky, feels good after cosmetic surgery last December. Wanda herself was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, but has done well and has had no recurrence. She sends greetings to me and all the family of her cousin, Morine.

From:    And here's her latest note --
Date sent: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 14:39:18 EST   To:

Subject: Wanda in Seattle

Dear Cus, Enjoyed your news letter so much. However these people aren't famliar to me but it's interesting hearing about them.

Now ..... About our cousinship. My mother and your mother were first cousins, my mother was a Blanton before she married Frank Troxel. I'm the product. However they did have a child, a daughter 13 years before I was born. She passed away when she was 6 weeks old.

When we would come to Missouri for a visit you, our cousin Shirley Blanton LaPlante and Helen Louise Tiller Sprecher used to play together. [Ray remarks -- Mom also took Dottie and me to visit with Shirley's family in Webb City.]

Somewhere along the line Wilson Blanton comes to mind. I remember mother talking about an uncle called Wilson. Her oldest brother is named Luther Wilson and Bea Crabtree's second son is named Luther Wilson aka Bus.

Your sister Dottie is certainly a nice looking lady. Cute grandkids too. Did I tell you in September of 1996, The kids took me back to Aberdeen South Dakota, Denis's hometown. On the way back I took Bill's ashes and had him buried in Livingston, Montana at the foot of his parents graves. I feel good about it. I now feel he is at rest.

When we went to South Dakota, we stopped at Keystone and Mt Rushmore. That was really a highlight.

Well I feel there is more news but can't think of it right now. So will close for now.

God Bless and keep you. Love,  Wanda

And in Decemer 1998 --

The arthritis in my hand has gotten so bad that this note must be typewritten rather than written. The doctor is treating me with a different medicine for asthma. While doing so, he needed me to use a wheelchair to get around, so that's what I'm doing for now. It's nice to get out and not have to puff for my breath!

In June I was telephoned by a friend from whom I hadn't heard in 57 years. We got together here for a few hours in August. I loved it.

My daughter Becky has the inside of the house all decorated for Christmas, so this year she and Denis chose to also decorate the yard... And it rained. And it rained. And it rained. We had the excitement of a bus driver being shot and losing control of the bus which then ran off a bridge, fell 50 feet to a building top, and then on to the ground! Even riding busses isn't safe anymore! Merry Christmas. -- Wanda.


Thelma Folk, now in Florida, is my dad's cousin. She's had her 87th birthday on August 21st. My dad's sister, Grace, had her 95th birthday November 19th, and I had my 68th birthday June 16th. Thelma wrote to thank me for sending her (and others) news about Grace's move to the assisted-living home here in town. She shared news of her family, including the passing of her youngest brother due to cancer last year.

Vivian Blanton Orton wrote 7/12/97 hoping to encourage my interest in tracing the genealogy of the Hudson/Blanton families, and to share news. She writes, "Hope this finds you doing O.K. I don't get very far from home nowadays. I still drive, but just locally... I go to Memphis, Tennessee every year, but now fly rather than driving. I stay 10 to 14 days. In December last year, I had a total left knee replacement. After therapy, I was okayed for driving again." She had put up with considerable pain in the joint for 13 years, was happy with the results of the surgery. She still mows her small yard! Vivian would like information about Mabel Reed's mother-in-law who was a Blanton, but Mabel wasn't sure of her first name or her parents. I wasn't able to give any help in locating this possible relative. Family will realize that my grandmother, Mom's mother, was a Blanton before she married Charles Hudson and became the mother of eight living children of whom my mother was one, and Joanne's dad was another.

Vivian is also hoping someone can furnish more information about a Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton who married a Mary McCreary and with her had a son Napoleon who was born in Ray County, Missouri in 1829. She says the young Napoleon Bonapart Blanton married Harriett Godfrey and with her lived in Kansas after 1857. He died in Wichita in 1913. She reminds me that Wilson Blanton who married Elizabeth Cass was a brother to Vivian's great-grandfather, and was part of the family into which my grandmother was born (Wilson is buried in Carterville cemetery near Joplin).

Her card written 12/19/97 says, "I hope you can enjoy the holidays. Thanks for the note (with news of my dad's sister, Grace E. Lewis, but no other family news)." She mentions she doesn't know who Grace (my aunt Grace) is. She reports she also has had a lingering cold and is getting better.

I've received a 1999 note from Mom's cousin in Virginia, Patton Hudson to advise that he's now needing a wheel chair for transport, and hears with great difficulty, so plans no further trips. I also found my recent note sent to Neil Hudson's widow returned undeliverable, and must guess that Lorine is now deceased.

I received a note dated 12/31/97 from Hudson Kibler -- Dear Ray, Just a note to tell you my correct age -- not 92 as you have it, but 97. I reached this age 11/20/97. -- Hope you had a good Christmas. Happy New Year. -- Hudson Kibler.

Mary Lou Krause, daughter of Mom's sister Helen and her husband John Baskett, writes December 22nd -- Ray, Thanks for the notes and info you've sent. I hope you have a blessed Christmas and new year. I'm making progress on the computer, but no e-mail address yet! Love, Mary Lou.

GO TO Page Top Marcy & John Nave with Jacob. 1997.
Marcy, Jacob & John Nave.             Sheri & Tabi Rice.
Marcy is Jim Farrar's youngest.    John and Marcy have four children thriving. Marcy & John are happy together. John works. They have a sweet little boy that we love and enjoy.