Local businessman, historian dies at 75

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 7/16/96.

Ray Webb, 75, was more than a retired businessman in Paynesville, he was a historian and active community member. Funeral services wee held July 15 for Webb.

In 1941 he married Lura Huntington of Paynesville. In July 1944, they returned to Paynesville from California before his draft number was called. Webb was discharged in March 1946 and returned to Paynesville where he joined his father-in-law and brother-in-law in the Paynesville Hardware Company.

Also upon his discharge, he joined the Paynesville American Legion. In March, he was recognized for 50 years of continuous membership.

In 1949, he served as Legion Commander. Since the death of E.J. Olson, Webb had tossed the wreath into the river honoring the naval veterans during the Memorial Day program. After the death of Arleigh Behr, he took over the job of raising the flag from half mast to full mast during the Memorial Day programs. Up until this spring, Webb hadn't missed a Memorial Day parade or program since joining the Legion, 50 years ago.

Webb was a hardworking member of the Legion," Carl Wagner, former Legion commander, said. "Ray had a lot of good ideas in promoting the Legion and worked hard for them. It was very seldom Ray wasn't there for his fellow veterans. You didn't have to ask him to volunteer, he was there volunteering the minute he heard about any programs," Wagner said.

Webb was one of the original bingo callers, which he continued until about 10 or 15 years ago. "It was his hard work, that helped pay for the present building," Wagner added.

Besides his years with the Legion, Webb also served 1946 to 1970 as a member of the Paynesville Volunteer Fire Department. Webb was also a 50-year member of the Paynesville Masonic Lodge #71 and a past master; a 40-year member and 30-year Worthy Patron of Koronis Chapter of #97 OES and Siloam Chapter #79; a 25-year member of the Paynesville Historical Society, a member of the Zuhrah Shrine, Litchfield; Willmar Knights Templer; 40 plus years as a member of the Paynesville Chamber of Commerce; a long time member of the Paynesville Cemetery Board, Paynesville Sportsmen's Club, Sons of Norway, Koronis Lake Association, lay leader and senior warden at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, served on the Paynesville School Board, and was a member of the Koronis Hills Golf Club.

"Ray could and did memorize pages of work in the Masons and Eastern Star and always had it letter perfect," Dale and Jeanette Bast recall. "If he took on a project, he did it with enthusiasm and inspired everyone who worked with him. Ray's love was not lip service but heart service," Jeanette stressed.

Bertha Zniewski, museum curator, doesnÔt recall a time Ray ever said no to helping with a project. "He was the backbone of the historical society and always had a lot of ideas.

"Ray was always cheerful and always brought things back from his trips," Bertha said. "Ray helped take care and maintain the outside of the museum. When people brought things in for the museum, Ray knew what they were because of his background in the hardware business." After the hardware store closed in 1994, Ray cleaned out the upstairs and donated 100s of things to the museum. He was even helping with a new exhibit for this year...a tin shop.

"He will truly be missed by all in the community," Bertha added.

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