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Bobby Ray Coker finished his race and entered into the presence of his Savior on the afternoon of November 28, 2023. He was surrounded by his beloved wife of 68 years, Angie, and their daughters.
Born on March 5, 1936, Ray was the son of the late Joseph Pearlie Coker, Sr. and the late Pearl Thigpen Coker McKenzie Driggers. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955 and served 20 years before retiring in 1975 and moving his family home to Olanta. After retirement, he attended Florence Darlington Technical College and opened Coker Brothers Repair with his brother Wardell.
He made two important decisions in 1955, he enlisted in the Air Force and married the love of his life and his perfect partner, Angie. During those 20 years, they learned to depend on each other and fell into the rhythm that created a marriage that stood the test of time. They also added to the family their three daughters, Cindy, Missy and Deanna. That marriage was a 68 year journey that included military bases in the US and overseas, cross country camping trips with enough extended family to get a group discount and enough laughter and memories to fill volumes.
In 1972, Ray made the most important decision of his life when he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. From that point on, his life became even more about service - to his Lord, his church, his family and his friends. Ray didn’t meet a stranger. He was always willing to lend a helping hand. He was a friend who loved you like a brother or sister. If you were his friend, you were his family. When you were around him, you knew two things, he loved Jesus and he loved people. He had a heart for missions and he was a friend of pastors.
He loved Angie. Oh, how he loved her. While not perfect, they had perfected the art of marriage, of being a team, of supporting one another – even when the other annoyed you. He loved his girls. He taught them how a man should treat his wife and how a father loves his children. He also taught them some very important things, like how to field a grounder, how to pick up a 5-7 split and how to throw a good water balloon. None of them ever managed to master the knuckleball. He passed on his love of sports, his love of family, his sense of humor, and his love of life. He also made sure that all of his girls knew how to take care of themselves, fix things around the house and generally be self-sufficient.
Having had daughters, he was thrilled to have grandsons. Through them he got to do all the things he missed having daughters – little league baseball games, golf, supervising them on construction projects. He was so proud of all of them. He never missed a school awards ceremony or event.
He touched so many lives and he leaves a very large set of shoes to be filled. He loved big, he lived fully and he laughed often. In his book, The Stranger in the Lifeboat, one of Mitch Album’s characters makes the point that “when someone passes, people always ask “why did God take them?” A better question would be “Why did God give them to us?”” God gave us Ray for all those moments of laughter, friendship, mischief, support and love that we shared through his life. And we are the better for it.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughters Cindy Coker of West Columbia, Missy Coker of Lake City, Deanna (Phillip) Miles of Lake City, grandsons Christopher (Raven) Coker and Joseph Coker, Cannon Miles and Maddox Miles all of Lake City. As well as numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews and a host of friends.
Ray was preceded in death by his siblings, Oree Taylor, Jessie Fee Floyd, Wardell Coker and J. P. Coker, Jr; son-in-law, David Amick.
A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 PM, Thursday, November 30, 2023, at Great Commission Ministries, 3503 Turbeville Highway, Lake City, SC. Burial to follow with Military Honors at the Barrineau Pentecostal Holiness Church cemetery.
The family will receive friends 1:00 – 2:00 PM at Great Commission Ministries.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Missions Department of Great Commission Ministries.