A longtime owner of a local bonding company passed away last week.
Rayburn “Ray” Farmer, of Boone, passed away on Thursday, November 1 after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to Hampton Funeral Service. He was 78. After military service, Farmer moved to Boone and started Mountaineer Bonding in 1980. He was a longtime member of Greenway Baptist Church.
Funeral services for Mr. Farmer were conducted Sunday afternoon, November 4, 2018 at Greenway Baptist Church.
Obituary courtesy of Hamton Funeral Service:
Ray was born in Batesville, Ark. on March 21, 1940 to Sam and Mary Watson Farmer, one of 13 children
He devoted his life to his love of hard work, family and country, earning a Silver Star for his service as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He also had his own business, Mountaineer Bonding, which he ran for more than three decades.
He grew up on a cotton farm and as an early teen wanted to join the Army, but his mother wouldn’t consent for him to go. So he traveled with his brothers, taking jobs in food processing plants in Michigan and Florida.
Ray joined the Army while still a teenager, a move that allowed him to see the country and the world.
He went to Fort Bragg to train as a paratrooper, excited by the prospect of “jump pay.” He was stationed in Germany for a while but eventually served in Vietnam as America became more deeply involved in the war. Captain Farmer became a helicopter pilot and a flight commander.
His brave exploits were captured in the book Vietnam Helicopter Crew Member Stories, Vol. 2, by H.D. Graham.
50 years ago this month, in an area known as Lai Khe, Captain Farmer made a three daring flights at treetop level – under heavy enemy fire and with little room to make a safe landing – to extract teams that had come under heavy enemy attack.
“His courageous initiative, staunch perseverance and exemplary skill as an aviator significantly contributed to the success of the mission and the saving of many lives,” the Army noted. “Captain Farmer’s unquestionable valor in close combat against numerically superior hostile forces is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army”
He was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry in 1969. Ray remained friends with many of his fellow serviceman for the rest of his life.
After his military service ended, Ray moved back to eastern North Carolina and began a career in banking.
He married his wife Sheila in 1978, and the family moved to Boone in 1980. A few years later, he started Mountaineer Bonding and served as a bondsman for many years, befriending many in law enforcement and the courts in Watauga and surrounding counties.
He continued to fly long after his military service and had a hangar and single-engine plane at the Boone Airport for several years. He even returned to flying following a plane crash in 1999 that he walked away from despite his plane being destroyed.
In retirement, Ray found joy in being a doting Poppy to his five grandchildren.
Ray is survived by his wife, Sheila Nance Farmer of the home; two daughters, Desiree Garber and husband Paul of Lewisville, North Carolina, and
Cheryl West and husband Alan of Elizabethtown, North Carolina; three granddaughters, Delaney Garber, Madeline West, and Carlie West; two grandsons, Sean Garber and Cameron West; three sisters, Wyveda Mabry and Marlyn “Sue” Vernon, both of Batesville, Arkansas, and Barbara “Dolly” Wilkinson of Lemoore, California, and one brother, Bob Farmer and wife Brenda of Callahan, Florida. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by a son, Douglas Wayne Farmer, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq; his father and mother; one sister and seven brothers.
Ray was a longtime member of Greenway Baptist Church, and the family would like to thank the members of the church who supported and comforted him during his illness.
Funeral services for Ray were conducted Sunday afternoon, November 4, 2018, at 3:00 o'clock, at Greenway Baptist Church. Military graveside rites and burial were also held in Arlington National Cemetery.
Online condolences may be sent to the Farmer family at www.hamptonfuneralnccom