Longtime Alaskan, Francis Raymond "Ray" Blake, 95, died July 12, 2012 in Indio, Calif.
A graveside service will take place on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at noon at Spruce Grove Memorial Park in Kasilof. A celebration of life will immediately follow at William Blake's residence.
Ray was born Aug. 8, 1916 in Farmington, Minn., to Alfred and Anna Blake. After graduating high school in 1934, for many reasons, he decided it would be better for the family to have one less mouth to feed, so he decided to go on the "bum" jumping boxcars. Leaving from Seattle in 1936, Ray caught a steam ship to Cordova and picked up odd jobs including commercial clam digging. He eventually got a job with the Alaska Railroad and ended up in Fairbanks. During this time he met longtime friends, Archie and Ann Ramsell.
In 1946, Ray and Archie decided to homestead on the Kenai Peninsula. The two guys were dropped at the mouth of the Kasilof River and chose homesteads adjoining each other on North Cohoe. Parts of the Cohoe road follow the trail they made to their land. During Ray's first winter on his homestead he stayed in an 8-by-10 dugout. The following season he built a log cabin with one of the few bathrooms with indoor plumbing. His cabin was a popular spot for all the local bachelors to play pinochle and grab a bath while there; Ray would even bake a pie.
After Ray homesteaded he put himself through electrical school ultimately becoming a journeyman electrician. He spent winters in Mexico where he met Lorraine in 1959. Ray and Lorraine married in 1960 and were together for 47 years.
His wife, Lorraine and his sisters, Ruth, Marcella, and Dorothy, preceded Ray in death.
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Lynda Blake; his daughter and son-in-law, LaRae and Paul Bartolowits; his grandchildren, Anna Bullock and Melissa Blake, and Jennifer, Ashley, Michelle and Matthew Bartolowits.
Donations may be made to Hospice of the Central Peninsula, PO Box 2584, Soldotna, AK 99669.