Posted 10/06/10 (Wed)
Raymond Francis Novak was born on Nov. 24, 1918, and died on Sept. 26, 2010.
Ray was born in the small farming community of Alexander, located in northwestern North Dakota, where his parents had homesteaded in 1915. He graduated high school one year ahead of his age group and attended North Dakota State University, where among many honors, he was president of the senior class, president of his co-operative student house, and class Salutatorian. He received a full Sears and Roebuck scholarship for his undergraduate work and went on to study for a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at Cornell University, unwritten by the Dennison Scholarship.
Ray left his graduate work to enter World War II. He trained as a medic, and worked as a neurosurgeon’s assistant as well as with psychiatric cases. He was assigned to the 61st General Hospital, where he saw first hand, the hell of war.
While in high school, Ray worked diligently for the cause of world peace. He sold more Peace Bonds in a national fundraising effort for world peace than any other student in the state of North Dakota. He was active in the Farmers Union youth group and was the Farmers Union representative at Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House Conference on farmers’ problems in 1939.
After the war, Ray returned to North Dakota. He was offered a part-time job working for North Dakota Farmers Union Insurance. This soon turned into a full-time position, and he spent the next 38 years with the company, ending his career as president. Under his leadership, the insurance companies experienced their greatest growth and potential. He harbored a deep respect and admiration for those who worked with and for him. He considered them “family.”
Ray was attuned to the problems and needs of rural America during his half-century of service to the farm organization and during his 38-year association with the insurance companies. He frequently urged agents and office employees to renew their dedication to the idea of helping farm families and rural America attain a better future.
Ray loved his brothers and sisters as much as he loved his own children. He called them “kids” even when they were all well into their eighties. He is survived by his beloved sisters, Evelyn and Irene, and his dear brother, Tony, Jr., all currently residing in the Williston area. He was brokenhearted to be predeceased by his sisters, Viviane and Elsie, and brothers, George and Don. He tried to be a good friend to his many in-laws, nieces and nephews, including his late wife’s family, John and Betty Barefoot and Clyde and Lynn Warford.
Behind every great man, stands a great woman. Ray’s precious joy, Anne Barefoot Novak, died 1½ years before him. Together they worked hard in life, each rising from the extreme poverty of rural America during the Great Depression. They demonstrated remarkable respect, kindness and concern in their lives for the “common people.” Ray and Anne understood that at times life’s hardships can simply overwhelm; that poverty, poor-education, and bad luck can seem insurmountable in lives where people work so hard to overcome and improve themselves. Ray and Anne wanted the best for each person they met.
He is survived by Richard (Sandy) Novak, Candyce (Bob) Karulf, and Barbara Novak (Howard Stussman), six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, in the Chapel at First United Methodist Church. A reception followed at the church. Entombment occurred at 1:00 p.m. at Grandview Cemetery, with military honors by the National Guard.
Friends may contribute to the charity of their choice, in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 650 W. Drake Road, Fort Collins, Colo. 80526. Please visit www.allnutt.com to share your memories of Ray.