Raymond Belknap, Jr., 94, of Excelsior Springs, Mo., passed away peacefully on February 2, 2019 at Liberty Hospital, Liberty, Mo.
He was born May 30, 1924 in Nevada, Mo., to parents Raymond E. and Ruby J. (Wiles) Belknap.
Ray graduated from Nevada High School, Nevada, Mo., in 1942. During his high school years he received numerous awards in music. The most notable was for winning first place on his baritone solo at the Chicago National Music Contest in Chicago, Illinois.
Prior to college, he served 3 years in the U.S. Army during World War II as an Air Operations Specialist. After his service, he married Shirley Jean Morgan-Fields in 1946.
Ray received a Bachelor of Music from Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo., where he demonstrated proficiency in brass, woodwind, and string instruments. Post-graduate work was completed at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois.
Thirty years were spent teaching instrumental music, chorus, and music appreciation to students in the Missouri School Districts of Platte City, Stanberry and Excelsior Springs.
Ray was lovingly known as “Mr. B” to his students. He enjoyed teaching and tirelessly strived to build better music departments throughout his career. He spent countless hours giving private lessons after school and during summer vacation. Many of his students fondly remember the summer concerts he held in the park at the Stanberry Bandstand every Saturday night. Over 80 of his former students sent messages wishing him well on his last birthday. Ray was so touched by their kind comments and stated that they made it his best birthday ever!
Following retirement, Ray enjoyed woodworking of all types. His work included making curio cabinets, doll houses, display cases, children’s toys, and miniature furniture. The intricate, miniature grand pianos and organs he made were featured in the Kansas City Times and displayed at the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum.
Ray was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley Jean Belknap; daughter, Janet Newby Roberts; brother, Clarence E. Belknap; and parents.
He is survived by two daughters, Debby (Nick) Houk, Excelsior Springs, Mo., and Melanie (Rodney) Thomas, Kearney, Mo.; four grandchildren, Darci Houk, Kim Skeel, Kris Burnett, and Randy Roberts; two step grandchildren, Teasha Vargas and Brett Thomas; six great-grandchildren; and two step great-grandchildren; and sister-in-law, Mary Jane (Shock) Belknap of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Inurnment of Raymond and wife, Shirley, will take place with Military Honors at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, Mo., at a later date. Arrangements are through Bross & Spidle Funeral Home, Excelsior Springs, Mo.
Donations may be made to the American Legion Post 236, 208 Veterans Memorial Drive, P.O. Box 297, Excelsior Springs, MO. 64024 or to the Kansas City Pet Project, 4400 Raytown Rd., Kansas City, MO 64129.
Our Sincere Condolences
Our Prayers Are With You.