Dr. Florian “F.J.” Ragaz, age 96, of Marion passed away on Monday, October 14, 2019. F.J. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 5, 1923 to the late A. “Gus” Gustav Ragaz and Hortensia DiNicola DeMenga Ragaz. Following High School, he was drafted into service in the U. S. Army and served faithfully during World War II. After being discharged in 1945 he entered the University of Wisconsin Medical School and graduated from there in 1949. The Atomic Energy Center in Wisconsin recruited him for research until he was inducted into the U. S. Air Force in 1951 and was subsequently sent to Kempo Air Force Base where he served as a flight surgeon. During his tenure in the Air Force one of his assignments was to train Korean doctors on American medical techniques and he was awarded the Bronze Star and a Presidential Citation for his expertise and success in that endeavor.
Dr. Ragaz came to Marion in June of 1953 and opened his practice serving as a General Practitioner for over 60 years. His dedication and devotion to his adopted hometown was exemplified in the many ways he gave his time and knowledge to many different local causes. He served as President of the McDowell Chamber of Commerce in 1963. Dear to his heart were the things he did through his association with the Marion General Hospital. He was responsible for setting up a disaster plan for the hospital and also served a term as Chief of Staff. He also worked to establish “Hilltop House”, a modern nursing facility for the county that later became Autumn Care of Marion.
As many professional interests as he had, he was also well known for his love of leisure pursuits. As a licensed pilot he enjoyed flying but also loved bowling, golf, riding his motorcycle and just sitting out by the pool enjoying a good cigar.
Surviving are his wife of 69 years, Margaret “Bebe” Ledbetter Ragaz; three daughters, Susan Ragaz Scharf and husband Jason of Hockley, Texas, Kathy Ragaz Kasek and husband Richard of High Point, and Amelia Ragaz Tipton and husband Larry of Old Fort; a brother-in-law, William “Bill” E. Stepp of Palestine, Texas; two grandchildren, Anna Brockley and Aaron Brockley and wife Shae; one great grandson, Wesley Brockley; and two nieces, Keila Keith and husband Josh and Kristen De La Torre and husband Shane.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Westmoreland Funeral in Marion. The funeral service will be held on Friday, October 18, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church with Rev. George Hutchins and Dr. Kenneth Humphreys officiating. Military Honors will follow the service in the church by the United States Army. The family will have a private graveside service at Siloam-Ebenezer Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church at 79 Academy St., Marion, NC, 28752 or Hospice of the Carolina Foothills at P.O. Box 336 Forest City, NC, 28043. The family would like to express their deep appreciation to the staff of Rose Hill Retirement Community and the staff of Hospice for the quality of care provided to him in his final days.
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