The Airline Life of One Family
Biography of Ray W. Marshall

Courtesy of Vada Edith Marshall

Four 15-year veterans view a photo of an early day aircraft flown by the airline.
Left to righ, Ralph Myer, Ray Marshall, Daryl Devault, and Ted Dimick. (1951, MSP)

Ray Willian Marshall was born December 25, 1908, A Merry Xmas Baby, and I was born on April 21, 1913 and we both were raised in Wilson County Kansas where farming was the way of life for most everyone and Fredonia was the county seat. Both Ray and I attended the country schools and Ray graduated from Fredonia High School in 1929 and I graduated in 1931.

After working some really hot summers in the wheat fields in western Kansas, Ray got smart and moved to the big city of Kansas City, Missouri where he eventually went to work on the assembly line of the Ford Motor Co. In 1934 I came to Kansas City and also worked in several jobs before Ray and I were married on April 30, 1934. In 1933 and 1934 Ray and Pop Strobel got involved in building the Model 1 Phantom with Don Luscombe and this experience got him really interested in airplanes and aviation maintenance and in 1936 the opportunity came to be.

In 1936 Thomas Ryan acquired Hanford Airlines and moved the offices to Kansas City from Sioux City, Iowa and Ray made an application for work and was hired to work the first day Hanford set up shop in Kansas City. One of his first days on his new job Ray brought home another employee who was transferred to Kansas City from Sioux City to have dinner with us. There was no food in the house so I ran to the store and then prepared dinner for them. After dinner they had to run back to the airport to finish the maintenance to an airplane that had to get out the next morning. This employee's name was Ted Dimick and we became the closest of friends with him and his wife Hazel. The other employee that came to Kansas City from Sioux City with Ted was Ralph Meyer who eventually married Grace, two of the finest people I have ever known. In that same year Ray and some employees were talking at lunch one day about where each had come from and when Ray said he was a country boy from Kansas the other employees decided to call him "Gov" and that name stuck with him like glue throughout his career. During the early times with the airline Ray was working on his license and also did things like standing in front of the bright lights to shield them from the pilots eyes who were bringing in the planes and at one time had to carry a firearm when he was loading or unloading the U.S. mail from the airplanes.

It was in 1937 that Ray and I tookour first airplane ride in a Lockheed Vega airplane when we flew roundtrip from Kansas City to Tulsa and on March 10,1938 we had our first child, Judie, and Hanford Airlines changed names and became Mid-Continent Airlines. Wrong way Douglas Corrigan came through Kansas City after his ticker tape parade in New York City this year and our family was in the short parade to honor him in downtown Kansas City.

Everything was going well in those days until 1941 when Ray came home one night after the evening shift with the news that he would be leaving the next morning for Minneapolis, Minnesota and that Mid-Continent would be transferring him to the new maintenance base in Minneapolis. During the next several months I spent time with relatives in St. Joseph, Missouri while Ray was traveling to Souix City and then Omaha and then Sioux Falls and then St Louis until the other employees were transferred and operations were online in Minneapolis. My sister, Viola Deitzman from Fredonia, came to stay with us in Minneapolis in August and stayed with us until April of 1942 and this was a blessing as the end of 1941 came around with a bang.

On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked and President Roosevelt and Great Britain declared war on Japan and then on December 8 we had another child, Jackie, and then on December 11 Germany and Italy declared war on the allied powers and congress declared war on those countries. Whew, what a week that was. Ray enlisted in the Navy but before he was called to duty President Roosevelt ordered all airline employees to remain with their airlines during this period of the War. By this time Ray had been promoted to maintenance inspector and Mid-Continent was sending him congratulatory letters and birthday cards to him as both he and his family were trying to adapt to the beautiful and very cold Minnesota winters. The memories of food, gasoline and tire rationing are still vivid in my mind, as was the rent freeze on housing. As an avid outdoorsman, Ray really enjoyed the fabulous hunting and fishing, and ice fishing, that Minnesota was famous for.

All was going quite well and in 1946, after the war ended, we bought our first house on Clinton Avenue in south Minneapolis just in time for our third child, Larry, who was born on October 2, 1946. The airplanes were getting bigger and more complex and so was our family as our last child, June, was born on June 27, 1948. Then in 1949, with a one year old baby in tow, we took off in our 1941 Chrysler to vacation in the west to see Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore and on to Oregon where we visited with my parents. Two Adults, Four Children, and no air-conditioning and a 4000 mile trip on two lane highways. That was a trip no one would ever forget but for certain it was one of the most fondest and memorable in my lifetime

In 1952 with four children headed to school, Mid-Continent merged with Braniff Airways to create a powerhouse of an airline as Braniff Airways now had a system from Canada through South America with the new DC-7s coming on line in the mid 50's and the Lockheed Electra with the speed of the jets coming on board in the late 50's.

Several of our friends were transferred to Dallas, Texas in 1958 as Braniff was moving into the new maintenance facility on Lemmon Avenue and the new terminal building was opening on Cedar Springs at Love Field. Shortly therafter the big birds were to arrive, the Boeing 707. They were a sight to behold. 1963 came and Braniff decided to close the overhaul operation in Minneapolis and transferred about 250 employees and their families to what we thought at the time was a redneck and deepsouth part of the country and we were quite surprised as to how wonderful Dallas and north Texas was. And for the first time we had air-conditioning and a fireplace. When the movers came to pack up our belongings in Minneapolis we had a very large and nice rock collection. The movers were hesitent to box them up because of their weight and what would Braniff say? In the end they were boxed and shipped to Dallas where they still reside to this day. Hail to Braniff !. The very bes t part of the move was certainly that we made friends with so many wonderful people in Dallas and could still be with all of our dear friends from Kansas City and Minneapolis which always meant a great deal to both of us..

From 1963 until Ray retired in 1974 he worked in several areas but he was always most fond of his crew chief duties in line maintenance. Braniff International became one of the best performing airlines during the 60's and 70's and there was quite a bit of well deserved pride amongst the employees. With this great airline they were always able to travel to the far flung corners of this country but also go to Hawaii, Central and South America or Europe.

Ray and Vada Marshall's 50th Anniversary

In retirement Ray kept going back to Minnesota to go fishing or hunting with his old airline buddies and also to see his daughter Judie, her husband John Denison and grandkids Mike, David and Diane and visit with his other friends that he had remained close to after his transfer to Dallas in 1963. In Dallas he was adored by his other family members, June's daughter Tina Thomas, Larry's Daughters Gretchen and Chelsea and his wife Rhonda, Jack's Daughter Cari and his wife Ginny with her two kids Sherri and Todd. Ray stayed quite active in the Injun Joe Club in Minneapolis and was always involved in the Braniff Retirement club in Dallas.

Ray passed away on December 28, 1989 in Dallas, Texas. He had a wonderful, caring and adventurous life.