The family of Herman Ronald "Big Ripper" Gilkey Sr. announce his passing at the age of 78, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, at his home in Rich Hill, Mo. Ron was born May 16, 1933, to George and Gracie (Wilson) Gilkey in Papinsville, Mo.
Ron was proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served during the Korean War as a corporal in the 63rd Tank Batallion stationed in Kitzingen, Germany. After returning to the states, he started his career in truck driving as a grain hauler. Ron spent many years driving a truck and in 1981 started his own business, Gilkey Grain. After retiring from trucking, he began a new chapter in his life -- Gilkey Tow Service. Through the years, Ron made many friends in his work with local and state authorities and neighboring companies, including a special friendship with Ed Garwood and family.
Ron taught us how to be creative and tackle any challenge, how to work hard, and more importantly, how to play hard. He lived his motto -- "We made it together and we will spend it together." However hard he worked he always took time to spend time fishing in Papinsville, hunting with all his "boys" and spending time with his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Jack, Bob and George; sisters Shirley, Jean, Jewell and Betty; and a special brother in law, Fred. Ron is survived by his wife of 45 years, Lois, of the home; four children, Doug and wife, Linda, Grace and fiancÚ, Mike Bukaty, Ron Jr. and wife, Nancy, and Michelle and husband, Dale Dines; seven grandchildren, Arnie, Rashanda, Dougie, Chey, Kirsti, Eddie and Jerry; and 10 great-grandchildren, Kassity, Kylie, Brady, Jayden, Dalton, Shelby, Wyatt, Kaylee and "Old Pa's" little ones, Ryhdur and Bentley; a sister, Gail Biggs; a brother, Larry Gilkey; and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to recognize the elite group Ron referred to as "my boys" who were there regardless of the time or weather -- you always had his back and we thank you. He is further survived by three children by a previous marriage, Billy, Rhonda and Monte.
A memorial celebration will be held Saturday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m., at Sweetwater Tabernacle of Rich Hill. The family suggest memorial contributions to the Papinsville Historical Fund in care of the Heuser Funeral Home. Services under the direction of the Heuser Funeral Home.