Thursday, February 20, 2020

Wilford (Jack) Ragsdale, 93, Arizona

Kenton Spading’s father-in-law Wilford (Jack) Ragsdale passed away peacefully on Jan. 5, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona where he resided with his daughter Cindy and son-in-law Dick.  Jack was born on Oct. 23, 1926 in Mississippi County, Arizona on the east side of the Little Colorado River in his family’s farmhouse.  He attended a one-room schoolhouse near Bay Village, Arizona.  

Jack worked as a cotton farmer before being drafted during World War II.  He entered the US Army on Feb. 8, 1945 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.  He was assigned to boot camp at Camp Roberts south of Monterey, California.  

While home on furlough in St. Louis, Missouri visiting his sister Irene, he met Irene’s friend and his future wife Lorraine VanDevere.  He returned to California by bus to Ft. Riley, Kansas and then by train to Ft. Ord, California and onto the World War II staging area at Camp Stoneman before shipping out of San Francisco. 

Jack departed for the Pacific Theater on the Liberty Ship Christopher Greenup with orders to sail toward Japan.  After he arrived in Pearl Harbor the Japanese surrendered so the ship was diverted to the Marshall Islands and eventually the Philippines where he participated in the post-war US military rebuilding operations which followed the March 1945 liberation of the island.  

Lorraine and Jack exchanged love letters while he was on the Island.  In 1946 he returned to San Francisco aboard the SS Pomona Victory.  He was discharged in December 1946 at Great Lakes, Illinois. 

In April 1947 Jack proposed to Lorraine and asked her to elope with him to Mississippi because the state did not have a waiting period to get married.  They picked-up Jack’s cousin Ken Lindsey and drove to Hernando, Mississippi. They borrowed money from Ken to purchase a license and were married in a preacher’s house.  They honeymooned in a local hotel.

Jack and family resided in St. Louis, Chicago, Indiana, Arkansas and eventually Minneapolis.  While in Minnesota Jack also lived in or near Princeton, on Roger Lake (Crosby), Aitkin and Bock.  He owned many boats over the years.  He loved to fish for crappies in Minnesota and catfish in Arizona with his brothers. 

Roger Lake near Crosby, Minnesota, where he owned a cabin for a while, was a favorite spot as was Lawrence Lake.  Jack attended many auctions and flea markets searching for treasures he could buy and resell or use himself.  For many years he wintered in Arizona with his sisters and brothers.  He would transport auction treasures from Minnesota to Arizona and resell them at auctions.  Jack also enjoyed hunting and camping with his family and friends.  He loved to work in his yard and garden.

Some of the places Jack worked include: Swift and Company, Scientific Oil, Ideal Roller, Frost Paint and Oil, Dawson Homes, Lifetime Gate and The Soap Co.

Jack was a dapper dresser who often wore a stylish pair of pressed jeans, cowboy boots and a leather hat and jacket.  He could tell a good story with the best of them.  He was free with his opinions on life, American politics and world affairs.  He did not suffer fools gladly.  

He loved the Atlanta Braves and Chipper Jones who he watched religiously on the Major League Baseball cable channel.  His favorite movie actor was John Wayne. 

Jack was always willing to help someone in need and in February 1969 was honored for his outstanding service to his fellow men by the Fire Fighters Association of Minneapolis for saving two children from a burning house.  

He is preceded in death by his wife Lorraine, daughter Irene Spading, grandson Eric, sister Irene Wally and brother Tyrone.  Survived by three children Jackie Fredericks (Bill), Steve (Lynette), Cindy Rosen (Dick), son-in-law Kenton Spading, sisters and brothers: Geneva Cox, Adolf, Mary Durham, Shirley Bounds, and George, eight grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Jack’s memorial and burial are private.  Donations can be made to the National Ataxia Foundation at or by calling 763-553-0020.



Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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