Raymond J. LeRette 1939–2021

Raymond (Ray) was born in Morris, Illinois, March 19, 1939.Parents: Edward (Ray) LeRette and Johanna Glenney LeRette.
He came from a large family background. There were 10 children in his dad’s family and 10 in his mother’s but only 20 subsequent cousins. His mom was a country school teacher and his dad farmed. Ray and his two sisters Ramona and Joanie attended the Hume school where Ray was often the only student in his grade. The kids did the usual farm chores. Ray hated milking but made sure there was time to trap and hunt with his dad and uncles or friends in the plentiful wooded area along the Illinois River. Spending time with the aunts and uncles often meant helping bale hay or picking tomatoes on his uncle’s farm for Campbell soup. Any spare time included a
rowdy card game of Eucher or Pitch played by anyone over the age of six who had already been taught the game. Ray became active in 4-H and FFA showing Duroc hogs and Hereford calves at the local fairs . A box full of athletic letters and local news clippings collected by his mom attests to his ability in high school track and football.
After graduating in 1957 he stayed out of school for a year trying his hand at a couple of jobs and farming with his dad. He was farming a field on the river bottom when a high flash flood wiped out his field along with many others with water higher than the tractor seat. Farming was just too risky for him. Northern Illinois University was the next choice. He worked summers for DeKalb Ag Research in corn hybrid development and took classes in the winter. He and Sue met on campus and married the fall of 1964.
The DeKalb research farm in Fremont, Nebraska became their home and workplace in summers and Iowa State offered graduate classes he needed in winter. Daughter Marisa was born in Fremont in 1969 shortly before the family moved farther west to Yuma, Colorado. Son Dirk was born in 1971. Ray developed and ran a 26 acre research farm located within the property of the large Ward Farms. Crew members were picked up in town and driven the 15 miles to the farm and back. Several years later, property became available just a mile north of Yuma making a perfect showcase for Dekalb research as well as sales until 1993. The business was then purchased by Garst and the LeRettes were moved to the Greeley area. During the 23 years in Yuma over 100 folks of varying age worked for Ray doing the work necessary: preparing seed and fields, planting by hand or machine, thin, hoe, collect data, work at outlying plots, hand or machine harvest, and repeat the process through hot, humid, sun burning, buggy or cold windy weather. Not only was there a loyal group of adult workers, but a few younger who worked the job all the way through late high school and college. Later, most admit to learning a great work ethic.
Over his research career Ray helped develop three commercial hybrids and personally developed seven more including three that earned patents.
In 1999 Ray was let go from his job without warning. It was difficult finding work at 60. After several short term jobs a friend talked him into becoming an independent insurance agent specializing in Medicare and supplements. Most companies do not have agents that cover the plains so Ray’s good nature and ability to speak “agriculture” were welcome. He was still traveling many miles all over Eastern Colorado when Parkinson’s caught up with him forcing his retirement.
Moving to Westminster, Colorado allowed Ray and Sue to be closer to Dirk and family. Up until the last year or two he still enjoyed hunting with friends, especially good friend Ralph and fly fishing with Dirk. The five grandkids filled his heart. Both Sue and Ray were active in first the Presbyterian Church in Yuma and then the United Church of Christ in Greeley. Church friends and great neighbors have been very helpful as have the caregivers of Halcyon Home Hospice care. Carrying on his respect for research, Ray’s brain has been donated to Parkinson’s research.
Lord knows how many balls he pitched to the PEEWEE guys while coaching, or the hours spent giving advice for science fair projects, miles covered traveling to football games or track meets, dance concerts, and hours of working on church boards. He was a man of integrity, honesty and dedication. He died at home age 82, November 28, 2021
Ray is survived by Susan his wife of 57 years, daughter Marisa LeRette Tripp, her husband Daniel Tripp and their three children- Phineas, Dashel, and Willow of New Jersey. Son Dirk LeRette and his wife Valorie, their two children Kiely and Dylan of Arvada; sisters Joan and Ramona as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Special thanks for all the cards, thoughts and prayers. In lieu of flowers we ask that any donations be made to your favorite charity.
Celebration of life will be held May 14, 11:00 am at the First Congregational UCC church in Greeley. Live streaming of the service will be available. Just type in this link and the service should come on