Ray Grantham

October 20, 1925 ~ July 30, 2021 (age 95)


Frederick Raymond (Ray) Grantham passed away on Friday, July 30, 2021 after living independently for more than 95 years and a short time living at the Ponderosa Villa in Crawford, NE. Ray was the only child born on October 20, 1925 to Thomas Elam and Ida Elsie (Schmechel) Grantham in Hot Springs, SD. He attended Flag Butte and Rose Hill rural schools located in the Deadhorse community, graduated from Chadron High School and attended Chadron State College for one year before enlisting in the United States Army. He served in WWII in the 1st armored division tank destroyers in Germany, Austria and France from September 1944 to October 1946 when he returned to the family farm. He married Phyllis A. Burkhiser on August 20, 1947 living for a short time on a ranch near Pine Ridge, SD and another ranch in Whitney, NE before joining his parents Elam and Elsie on the home place along Deadhorse Creek southwest of Chadron in 1951. Ray and Phyllis were married for 53 years before her passing in October 2000. Ray spent his entire life farming and ranching raising cattle, sheep and hogs as well as a few years working construction on the Burkhiser complex on the CSC campus to earn extra income for the farm/ranch. He was inducted into the Dawes County Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1992 and his family received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Awarded sponsored by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation in 2010. It is one of the few family farms with original homestead owners left in Dawes County. Ray was very proud to serve his country remaining active in the leadership of the American Legion and American Legion Honor Guard. His history of service is recorded in the Library of Congress American Folklore Center in Washington, DC and was part of the WWII history project conducted by Chadron State College. Recently, he was very proud to receive one of the quilts presented by the Quilts of Valor Foundation honoring his service in WWII. He was an active member of the Grace Episcopal Church, Flag Butte Community Corporation and helped start the Happy Hustler’s 4-H Club along with Robert and Nellie Hawthorne in 1957. The club continues to this day after 64 years with three generations of the family continuing the legacy. Ray also served on the Dawes County 4-H Council and Dawes County Fair Board. Ray’s strong commitment to his faith, pride in his family and farming/ranching fulfilled his purpose in life. His hard work ethic, commitment to continuing the family farming/ranching operation, stubbornness, and ‘making do with what he had’ describe him as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is survived by three children, Connie Moore of Chadron, Kim (John) Madsen of rural Chadron, and Mark Grantham of Santa Monica, CA; grandchildren, Justin (Carey) Madsen of rural Chadron, Jennifer Madsen Smith of North Platte, Melissa (Bronc) Nicholson of Chadron, Rebecca Watson of Pearland, TX, Julie (Marty) Schommer of Oelrichs, SD, Russell Moore of Chadron, and step-grandchildren, Carey Jo Matthews of Kansas City, MO, Jacob Grantham of AZ. Ray felt very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy thirteen great-grandchildren – Clay, Cody and Cole Madsen, Jarod and Julie Nicholson, Haley and Kasie Smith, Morgan and Roudy Schommer, William and Lauren Watson, Katelynn and Austin Reece - along with step great[1]grandchildren and many cousins. He was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis, of 53 years, parents and son-in-law, Pat Moore. A celebration of life will be held at a later time. Memorials to the Happy Hustlers 4-H Club, Dawes County 4-H program or the donors choice may be sent in care of Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337. On-line condolences may be left at

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