TAHLEQUAH – Funeral services for Charles Ray Southerland are 10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, at Green Country Funeral Home. Officiating will be Rev. Charles Duvall. Pallbearers are Raymond Thompson, Frank Corn, T.J. Rutherford, Ben Carlisle, Michael Corn and Adam Smith. Honorary pallbearers are Tommy Thompson, Joel Sherrill, Jackie Wisdom, Matt Murphy, Timmy Thompson, David Meigs, Jim Dandridge, and Tim Murphy. Interment will follow in the Tahlequah City Cemetery under the care of Green Country Funeral Home. Online condolences for the family may be left at tahlequahfuneral.com. Charles Raymond “Ray” Southerland was born on Jan. 30, 1929, to Samuel and Frances Southerland, and passed from this earth on Jan. 22, 2016, at the age of 86. In 1940, at the age of 19, Ray met the love of his life, Loretta Janet “Jan” Watson, who was 17. Three weeks later, they were married, and their loving commitment for each other continued for 63 years before Jan went to her heavenly home. Their marriage produced six children, five who are still living and one that God shared with them for nine short days before he called him home. Ray loved fishing and camping, but mostly he loved spending cherished time with his family at their many gatherings where they would share food, music and an abundance of laughter. Music and ministry were his passion. The music was his legacy which has been, and will continue to be, passed from generation to generation. He never met a stranger and to know him was to love him. His love for Jesus was shared with anyone he could reach. For the past 12 years, Ray was so proud and honored to be chosen to have the most distinguished position in the Tahlequah Christmas Parade, riding in a sleigh at the end of each parade and seeing the joyful faces of the children, and adults alike, as he waved at each and every one. Those who met him might notice that he had eyes that twinkled, he had merry little dimples, rosy cheeks and a cherry-like nose, which were framed by a snow white beard. Oh how his little round belly would shake when he laughed, just like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and we laughed when we saw him, in spite of ourselves. Ray was preceded in death by his precious wife Jan; one son, Joel Ray Southerland; and a cherished son-in-law, James Ferguson. Those he leaves behind to carry on his legacy are his brother, Sonny Southerland; sister, Lorene Oka; children, Frann Thompson and husband Larry, Katie Rodgers, Deb Corn and husband Mike, Russell Southerland, Elaina Rutherford and husband Tom, and the woman he laughingly called Number 5, Anna James; and his grandchildren, Tommy Thompson, Raymond Thompson, Kerri White, Timmy Thompson, Charles “Jackie” Wisdom, Mandy Stephens, Ben Carlisle, Mike Corn, Frank Corn, Adam Smith, Sarah Squyers, T.J. Rutherford, Holli Rutherford, and his cherished grand-in-laws. He also leaves behind 30 great-grandchildren, numerous great-great-grandchildren, extended family members and those he loved as if they were his own. Cherokee Elder Care, where he was very proud to be president of the Advisory Committee, kept Ray active after his loving wife passed away. He had many friends and loved ones there. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to Cherokee Elder Care, so that they may continue to make people, like Ray, feel valued. Green Country Funeral Home, 203 S. Commercial Road, 918-458-5055.
Published on  January 26, 2016