Raymond Dwight Essick passed away Tuesday, September 7th at the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD after a brief illness.
Born on January 7, 1956, to Frank and Ardis (Smith) Essick, Ray was the first baby born in Sioux Rapids, Iowa. Growing up in Webb, where family came first and life was never dull, you could find Ray riding Patches, Sugar or Taffy, the family horses, watching all-star wrestling from the top of the stairs with his siblings, doing stunts on his bicycle, or just playing childhood pranks. Like the time he joined his brother Russ, tricycles in hand, on the top of a 10' roof contemplating a thrill ride to the ground! Ray was always ready for a good time and it was all the better if it included a little competition. Which by the way, to Ray, there was no such thing as a 'little' competition. Whether it was walking on his hands, doing trampoline flips with his sister Sue, playing high school football, being 'catcher' for baseball, playing sling-shot roulette, or a 'friendly' game of volleyball at the Smith Family Reunion's, Ray always put forth his best. Which is why he 'thinks' he won the famous Cronin go-cart race...even if he did have to run a few of us off the course to do it. An important part of Ray's childhood memories included the annual Sydney Rodeo, Saturday night Jackson car races, get togethers with the Kansas City cousins, and grandma's fried chicken.
Ray graduated high school from South Clay in 1975, followed by a year of auto body tech school at ILCC in Emmetsburg. He worked in the auto body repair field for over 20 years, finishing that career at Asher Motor Company. In 2001 Ray decided to follow in his dad's footsteps and began working for the Clay County road maintenance department where he was currently employed.
Ray married his wife of 43 years, Kathy (Cronin) Essick on September 17, 1977. To this union three children were born, Elizabeth, Patrick, and Emily. Ray loved being a dad. He took great pride in coaching ball for all three of them, and never missed a school event. He taught his kids to see the beauty in everything, whether a beautiful sunrise, intricate flower, or just a plain old rock. And he showed them the treasures that last a lifetime, like the weekends spent with the Jacobson's, and family vacations to the Black Hills, Colorado, Glacier, Okoboji, Ireland and Lanesboro. He was an avid soccer fan, enjoyed nascar, and worked continuously at creating a beautiful backyard. He loved babies, and when a new one in the extended family was born, he would declare, 'I got dibs on holding them first'! Ray was blessed with 5 beautiful grandchildren and he took his 'grandpa' job very seriously by helping care for them whenever he had the chance.
Ray was preceded in death by his father Frank Essick; step-father, Swede Erickson; father and mother in-law, Joe and Marie Cronin; step-mother in-law, Joan Cronin; sister Sheila Rae; brother in-law, Pat Cronin; step-sister, Judy Steffen; and step-brother, David Erickson.
Ray is survived by his wife, Kathy and his three children: Elizabeth (Justin Hofmeyer) Essick of Greenville, IA; Patrick (Amanda) Essick of Spencer; and Emily Essick of Chaska, MN; grandchildren, Owen, Urijah and Elayna Hofmeyer, and Lily and Noel Essick; his mother, Ardis Erickson of Spencer; siblings, Jean (Tom) Streed, Chris (Bob) Johnson, Russ (Cindy) Essick, and Sue (Terry Parsons); step-brothers Carl, Pete, Eric and Alex Erickson; brothers and sisters in-law, Diane (Tom) Herrmann, Mike (Pam) Cronin, Tim (Angela) Cronin, Jane (Mike) Blee, Mark (Kim) Cronin, Nancy (Dean) Gavin, Barb (Shawn) Brady, Carla (Dave) Muller, Beth (Paul) Ireland, and Amy (Chris) Doud; many nieces and nephews, friends, and honorary brothers, Steve and Steve.