Raymond Carl Kesling, 81, of Buckhannon, W.Va., passed into eternal rest on Sunday, December 1, 2019, at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va. from complications related to cancer.
He was born on May 12, 1938, in Spelter, W.Va., and where he grew up and lived until his marriage, on August 12, 1966, to Sandra Wynn Wamsley who survives.
A loving and devoted husband, brother-in-law, and uncle, he was a son of the late Dorsie Raymond Kesling and Agnes Madeline (Shingleton) Kesling, who preceded in death. He was also preceded in death by two brothers, Gary Lynn Kesling and Randall Vernon Kesling, one nephew, Randall Scott Kesling, and one niece April Lynn Kesling.
He is also survived by one brother, Richard Neil Kesling, and one nephew, Richard Lee Kesling both of Hepzibah; one great nephew, Matthew Kesling, and one great niece, Nicky Kesling; two sisters-in-law, Mateal Poling and husband Matthew of Buckhannon, and Karen Fumerola and husband Junior, of Farmdale, Ohio; and three nieces-in-law, Mikaela, Mikenze, and Mikinna Poling; and one nephew-in-law, Kevin Fumerola, and one great niece-in-law, Tara Jean Fumerola, both of Farmdale, Ohio.
He is also survived by one niece-in-law, Alaina (Fumerola) Keeney and husband Doyle, one great-niece-in-law, Cecilia Keeney, and three great-nephew-in-law, Taylor, Nathaniel, and Liam Keeney, all of Cortland, Ohio.
Ray attended Zeising Elementary School and Victory High School, Clarksburg, W.Va., and earned his diploma while serving in the United States Air Force from 1955-1958. He completed induction at Sampson AFB, Geneva, N.Y.; and Basic Military Training at Shanute AFB, Rantoul, Ill. He received Flightline Electric Training at Manhattan AF Station.
He served a one-year isolated overseas tour at Goose Bay Labrador, with one month at St John’s Newfoundland. During his tour, he was in the 59th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and was attached to Strategic Air Command. He was on-call nearly this entire time and worked on classified matters for strategic national defense.
From 1957-1958, he was stationed at Eglan AFB, working at the Air Proving Ground Control on experimental projects, some of which remain classified.
After honorable discharge, he worked as an electrician at M & H Zinc Plant, in Spelter, and Moore Business Forms Plant, in Buckhannon, where he did drafting and planned electrical circuits. He also carried out millwright and machinist duties, as part of his employment.
A life-long participant in competitive and casual Equestrian sports, he was the proud owner of Hillcrest’s Command Star, who was one of his best friends and preceded him in death. Star was the great-grandson of five-time, five-gaited World Champion American Saddlebred, CH Wing Commander, and three-time, five-gaited World Champion American Saddlebred, King Genius.
He was also the owner of the WV State Halter Champion, who later distinguished himself under new ownership as an international champion endurance racehorse in the sands of the Middle East.
Having previously served as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown, Ray was a founding member of the Ellamore Volunteer Fire Department and provided electrical work on some of the first trucks acquired.
He was a proud member of the Frank B Bartlett—Post 7 of the American Legion. He worked many years counseling and coaching with Special Olympics and Camp Tommy.
A life-long agriculturist and supporter of the Upshur County FFA, Ray was a long-time member of the Upshur County Livestock Association, 50-year member of the Farm Bureau, Upshur County Historical Society, and founding community group organizer for Adopt-a-Highway Program.
A current member of Member of First United Methodist Church—Buckhannon, Ray lived his Christian faith, which was instilled early at home and his home church of Spelter Methodist Church. His was a life of service, sacrifice, and humbling himself in Christ’s image.
All his efforts were always and at all times for someone else. He served as Assistant Sunday School Superintendent and Sunday School Superintendent for many years at Nay’s Chapel United Methodist Church, Sand Run, and participated in many church events and special programs. He later served as a Member-at-Large on the Administrative Board at First United Methodist Church.
Continuing his family’s aptitude and enthusiasm for music and sport, Ray excelled in a diversity of areas. He played acoustic, electric, and bass guitar; banjo; mandolin; and fiddle in a number of local country music and occasionally bluegrass groups.
He played baseball in Spelter, softball in the US Air Force, basketball for Moore Business Forms company team, and enjoyed swimming and extreme water skiing.
Friends will be received Thursday, December 5, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. at the Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home in Buckhannon. A Celebration of Life Service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, December 6, at the Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home, with burial in the Mt. Union Church Cemetery.
Following the service, the family will host a reception at Nay’s Chapel United Methodist Church.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.polingstclair.com. Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.