James Kent Raymond, 68, of Gering, passed away quietly at his home Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011.
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A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, at the First Presbyterian Church in Scottsbluff with Pastors Brad Gustafson and Al Wilson officiating. A private burial service will be held prior to the service in West Lawn Cemetery.
Memorials in his name may be made to Prairie Haven Hospice in Scottsbluff or the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org). Tributes of sympathy may be left at www.dugankramer.com. Dugan-Kramer Funeral Chapel in Scottsbluff is in charge of arrangements.
Jim was born July 15, 1943, to Kent and LaVada (Munson) Raymond in Scottsbluff. He grew up in Gering, graduating from GHS in 1961 before leaving the valley for a decade-long adventure. He headed east to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in advance of working for Eastern Airlines in Atlanta, Ga. He then moved to San Francisco, Calif. with a small computer company (Telemax) where he helped create the first computerized central reservation system for the hotel industry. After moving to Omaha with Telemax, he was hired by the Walt Disney Corporation in Orlando, Fla.
While with Disney, Jim worked in the pre-opening construction of Disney World's hotel reservations system. He rose to manage Disney's hotels in both Florida and California and credited his experience with the company for much of his entrepreneurial and business success.
Jim met his wife, Evelyn Louise Wilcox, in Atlanta while both worked in reservations for Eastern Airlines. They were married July 5, 1969 in Gainesville, Fla. and bought their first home in Clermont, Fla. while he worked for Disney.
In early 1972, they returned to Gering to purchase D&A Beverage, delivering Hamm's and Olympia beer. He later sold the business to buy Coors of West Nebraska, which he operated for more than 30 years.
Jim was a member of Gering Jaycees, the Elks and Lions Clubs, and served on the Board of Directors of the local Chamber of Commerce. It was for his work with the Chamber to help beautify the Scottsbluff-Gering highway that he was named the 1981 Citizen of the Year by the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.
An avid outdoorsman, he was a participant with Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. Some of his fondest memories came from hunting with his good friends and three boys. He loved traveling, working outdoors and supporting the Huskers. He gave to many, encouraged all and cared deeply for his community. Without question, his greatest source of pride and deepest pleasure came from his family.
Survivors include his wife, Evelyn of Gering; sons, Donn and wife, Kim of Omaha, David and wife, Tish of Houston, Texas and Steve of New York, N.Y.; sister, Lee Bright and husband, Mick of Houston, Texas; and five grandchildren.
Preceding Jim in death were his parents and brothers Donn and Pat, and sister Kathi Shurtleff.
Published in The Star-Herald from Dec. 14 to Dec. 17, 2011