Raymond McLeod Champion, Jr. Raymond McLeod Champion, Jr., age 86, died on Friday, August 23, 2013 in Lansing, Michigan after complications from a fall. He was born December 10, 1926 in the family home in Slayton, Texas to Raymond McLeod Champion and Mary Sue (Braswell) Champion. He was preceded in death by his wife Annabelle (Anne) Hiller Champion and his parents. He is survived by his brother Roscoe L. (Barbara) Champion; nephews Kyle David (Elizabeth) Champion, Darryl McLeod (Sharon) Champion, niece Kimberly Gae Champion; grand nephews and nieces David McLeod (Justine) Champion, Brian Champion, Chrissy Champion, Diana Champion, Angelo Champion; and two great-grand nephews. Other survivors include nieces Roberta (Donald) Mann, Pamela (Donald) Smith, Rebecca Pease, and nephew Timothy (Karla) Hiller; grand nephews and nieces Sarah (Nicholas) Cook, Stephen Mann, Ryan Smith, Jason (Michelle) Smith, Kevin (Zach) Pease, Jenny (Eric) Williams, Sam Hiller and Jamie Hiller; and great-grand nephews and nieces Benjamin, Sophie and Adeline Cook, Kai Smith, Wyland and Sidney Ray Smith, and Parker Williams. Additional survivors include nephew Don (Paula) Hiller and nieces Barbara (William) Atwell and Mary Ann Boschke. Raymond, perhaps better known as Ray, attended school in his home town of Slayton, Texas and graduated at the age of 16 as valedictorian of his class. He went to work three days after graduation for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway for the summer in the Engineering Department. He entered Texas A & M that fall majoring in Civil Engineering. Schooling was interrupted when he was drafted into the US Army after World War II. On return he alternated working for the Santa Fe and attending school until he received his Civil Engineering degree from Texas A & M and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. During the Korean War era he was recalled to active duty and spent a year in France with the Army Corp of Engineers. Utilizing his benefits from the G.I. bill, he attended the University of Michigan Law School and received his law degree in 1954. It was in Ann Arbor where he met Annabelle Hiller. They were married in the First Congregational Church in Charlevoix, Michigan in 1954. Ray's career with the Santa Fe Railroad found Ray and Anne living in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Chicago where he ended his 44-year career with the Santa Fe. He was instrumental in the integration of computer technology into railroad operations. His expertise brought him to testify before the Interstate Commerce Commission on numerous occasions. During his tenure with the Santa Fe Railroad, he served in the engineering, operations and executive departments retiring as Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman of the Board of Santa Fe Industries. Ray and Anne moved to Burcham Hills in East Lansing, Michigan in 1999 when Anne's failing health necessitated living close to family members. Ray had a prodigious appetite for reading. He continued throughout his life to expand his knowledge on the economy, world affairs, history, science, literature, language and any other subject that challenged him. Ray was a thoughtful and generous friend to all. As a first-class raconteur, he was an enjoyable dinner partner or companion. The legacy he leaves is one of a life well lived in accomplishment and the serving of others; that legacy is one to be cherished by family and friends and to be emulated by those who follow. He leaves a great vacant spot in the many lives he has touched. The Reverend Phillip Schairbaum will officiate at a graveside service at Brookside Cemetery in Charlevoix at 2:00 pm on Friday, August 30. The family is being served by Winchester Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix.
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Winchester Funeral Home
209 State St Charlevoix, MI 49720
Published in Lansing State Journal on Aug. 27, 2013