The Daily Item
SHAMOKIN DAM — Harold Emerson Raker, 89, of 30 Macintosh Road, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, was the venue where he waged his final battle against the infirmities that attacked this devout Christian’s earthly body.
A native of Northumberland County, Harold was born on June 23, 1923. He was the fifth of 13 children born to the late Lloyd and Flossie Raker. Growing up on the family farm located on Hallowing Run Road he developed a work ethic which was admired by those who knew him. Among other positions he held early in life, he applied this work ethic for 22 years as manager of the Susquehanna Frozen Foods Locker Plant in Sunbury and later as a parts room clerk at ConAgra, Milton. The latter job he retired from in 1989.
He married the former Jane Elizabeth Gass on May 19, 1945. They would eventually reside on property located a couple of miles from his parents homestead. It was on this property where they would raise their five children. Always the devoted parents, Harold and Jane, with kids in tow, were faithful in attending Sunday school and church services as a family. Harold’s devotion to his wife and family typically resulted in his working multiple jobs to support them. Summertime hours not on the company clock would find him planting, manicuring, and harvesting his vegetable gardens. His tractor was always at the ready as it appeared that there was some kind of competition to see who in the neighborhood or valley for that matter could be the first to break ground and plant the peas and spring onions.
It seemed as if Harold was attempting to feed 70 instead of seven as the extent of the crops planted would expand each year. Vegetables aside, strawberries were the most anticipated harvest. This anticipation was not only felt by mom and dad but also by the many family, friends, neighbors and co-workers who were faithful customers. Regardless of the time of year, you would find a list attached to their fridge serving as a reminder of orders yet to be filled. And just because the status of the gardens was up to their high standards, it didn’t mean that it was time to relax. If there was still daylight it was on to the rigors of maintaining the many flower beds. The satisfaction they would receive from the results of their labor was immeasurable.
Mom and dad both enjoyed attending craft shows. It was after one such event that they decided to apply their talents to making and marketing lawn ornaments. This venture started with them producing 40 to 50 lawn sheep per week. The lawn sheep fad was replaced by wooden lawn ornaments. Dad would cut out the figure and apply the base coat of paint with mom then being tasked to paint the intricate details that a steady hand required. It has always been amazing how much these two people were able to accomplish each and every day. The so-called professionals of today who claim to have all the answers on increasing productivity and efficiency could have taken a lesson or two from this duo.
A few Sunday afternoons in the summertime, mom and dad would schedule family outings to local amusement parks. A trip to Hershey Park was an annual event with the scheduling coinciding with the roses being in full bloom. As children we would be as patient as possible but all too often our anxiousness to visit the park won out over our patience. I mean, come on, after a while the roses all started looking the same. They understood.
Attending church and visiting amusement parks are only two examples of promoting family activities. There were many others but for the sake of space I will share the one yearly activity that they would set out as a couple. That outing would be to attend the Bloomsburg Fair with their longtime friends Julius and Marie Phillips. The night chosen would always be when the country and western headliner was appearing. We didn’t mind due to the fact that none of us were really big Charley Pride or Porter Wagoner fans.
Mom and dad’s union of nearly 57 years came to an end on March 26, 2002, when she succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s. Dad cared for her at home even when doing so was contrary to medical professionals’ recommendations. Their concerns were based on the toll that would be placed on him from providing constant care for an individual in her condition. He persevered out of his love and devotion to her until it was no longer possible to provide the care that she needed. Her declining state, which required her being cared for outside the family residence, was heartbreaking for him and all who knew and loved her. He never missed making multiple daily visits to see her.
Dad stayed busy trying his best efforts to maintain the homestead. The gardens got smaller and many of the flower beds were eliminated. We helped as we could and he would always ask what he owed us. The father, whose constant mission was to be the absolute best family provider, was asking what he owed us for a few spare minutes of our time. Our reply was something on the line of glad to help. He would always close with “Thanks if that pays the bill.” The man that could do most anything he set his mind to was having a difficult time coming to grips that he needed help. As a proud man, this dependency on others always troubled him.
Dad was a member of Augusta Baptist Church in Lower Augusta Township. Several years after mom’s passing he started dating a church acquaintance. The former Grace Evans and dad were united in marriage on Sept. 17, 2005. They provided companionship and support for one another during their all too brief days together. Saturday evenings would usually find them in the front row of the Winfield Auction. Each month also was highlighted with a Raker dinner held at local restaurants. These dinners were attended by dad’s brothers and sisters and their spouses with an open invitation for any descendants to attend. They as a couple were extremely faithful in their attendance at Augusta Baptist. This included Sunday morning and evening services as well as Tuesday Bible study and prayer meeting. Dad’s declining health was responsible for his being absent from his customary back pew. They also as a couple were no longer able to attend Senior Saints gatherings which always proved to be a blessing to them.
A special thanks to Earl Ferster who was faithful in providing transportation for dad to and from many of his medical visits when traveling by personal vehicle was still an option. Earl was also diligent in providing transportation for Grace to and from the nursing home and hospital to visit her husband. Dad would often mention how appreciative he was of his assistance. Thanks also to the others who provided rides for Grace during the last few months.
Surviving in addition to his wife are the following family members who he dearly cherished, sons, Harold L. Raker and wife Dawn, of Shamokin, Keith E. Raker and wife Kathy, of Sunbury, Kenneth L. Raker and fiancée Barb VanHorn, of Muncy; daughters, Sherry L. Morgan and husband Mark, of Sunbury, Wanda Budesheim and husband Edward, of Averill Park, N.Y.; stepdaughter, Gail and husband Dr. J. Paul McTamaney, of Richmond, Va.; stepson Dr. Jeffrey C. and wife Laurel Evans, of Lewisburg; 13 grandchildren, Justin, Philip, Aaron, Taylor and Nicole Raker, Jennifer Miller, Allen, Matthew and Andrew Morgan, Casey Fleming, Cory and Benjamin Budesheim, and James Marsh; five step-grandchildren, Jennifer Shields, Laurie Berezin, Karen McTamaney, Sarah Parker and Brian McTamaney; 14 great-grandchildren, Skylar, Madison, Cole and Raegan Raker, Sarah and Rachael Miller, Cody, Kayla, Thomas, Denton, Kaden and Belle Morgan, Aeriel Grosser and Ryan Fleming; two step great-grandchildren, Nathan and Lillian Parker; brothers, Lloyd, Martin and wife Mollie, John and wife Cottie; sister, Helen Shaffer, Gladys Deppen, Grace Ferster and husband Earl; brother-in-law, Arthur Reitz; sister-in-law, Leona Raker; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Arville, Isaac and Donald; and sisters, Anna, Martha and Betty.
A visitation will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home, 395 State St., Sunbury, where the funeral will be conducted at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, with Pastor Robert Commerford officiating.
Burial will be in Northumberland Memorial Park, Stonington.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Augusta Baptist Church, 1371 Boyles Run Road, Sunbury.