Friday, January 30, 2009
Raymond Leveritt Massey 1922-2001
Leveritt was born in his parents home (1844 College Street, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas) at 5:15AM Christmas morning in 1922 and was delivered by J. H. Reagan M.D. His parents, Edward Larls Massey and Lila Mae (Thomas) Massey, named Leveritt after a preacher who was named a small town in France.
According to the '1940 Spindletop,' his high school year book, Leveritt's senior year resolution was to "remember to get his History homework" and the phrase "Why worry? Life is too short." is typed next to his graduation picture.
Graduating from South Park High-school in Beaumont, Texas in 1940 , Leveritt decided to continue his education at the Lamar College. This only lasted for a semester or two due to a lack of funds.
Leveritt joined the United States Marine Corp Reserve (USMCR) on July 29, 1941 and specialized in the care of aircraft such as the Vought-Corsair F4U fighter; known as "Whistling Death" by the Japanese. His basic training (boot camp) was with the USMCR 99th Platoon in San Diego, California, but the remainder of his training was at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois where he became an Aviation Mechanist Mate. There are only two known letters from his time on Bougainville, Island but there are several letters from his time in the States. He would often write home about his daily activities but never included details about the dangers that he and other soldiers faced.
When Leveritt returned from Bougainville Island, he was given a pass to visit his family and orders to report to Cherry Point, North Carolina. He met his future wife, Zelda "Sally" Walters, while visiting with his Uncle and Aunt.
After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the USMCR on October 03, 1945, T. SGT. Leveritt was to travel with a friend to New York where they could both get a job. Leveritt received his discharge first and traveled to the home his friends' parents. While waiting for his friend to arrive, Leveritt purchased a 1941 Plymouth car. When his friend did not arrive, Leveritt decided to go back to Texas. He needed two new tires so his Uncle John Thomas used a connection at the Ration Board to obtain the tires. It was later learned that the friend did not go directly home to New York because he met a girl on the way home and stopped to get married.
Leveritt and Sally were married on 02Jun1946 in Texas. Jack Alford was his best friend and Best Man while Sally's sister Inez was her Maid of Honor.
Leveritt and Sally's first home was an apartment for about six months but they soon rented a furnished house. A year later they purchased a home from a couple that was leaving town. Included in the sale was most of the couples furniture. A garage was later added and paid for by Sally's mother in exchange for property in Livingston owned by Leveritt and Sally. Leveritt also helped move a barbershop to the property and convert it into a house for Sally's mother.
Leveritt and Sally had three sons (all still living).
He and his wife owned the Grangerland Grocery store for a short period when they sold the store to Mrs. McDowell in exchange for cash and a house at 609 Garrett Street in Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas. (Mrs. McDowell's son Monte married Elaine Dodd, the first cousin of Conan's first wife Susan. Conan and Monte were friends for many years)
He and his wife were member of the Conroe Assembly of God Church.
An active member of the Royal Rangers for many years, Leveritt achieved the position of District Commander for the South Texas area. He was active with the Royal Rangers for years and attended many functions with his youngest son, Dade. They even traveled to Australia for a Royal Ranger meeting.
Leveritt was asked by a member of the church to work for the City of Houston in their water department. He accepted and worked several years for the City of Houston.
He designed the original section of the Wigginsville Assembly of God church in Montgomery County, Texas. This church was built using steel and other materials remaining from decline of the"oil boom." Although the floor was level, Leveritt's original design called for a sloped floor and a raised pulpit to maximize the viewing area.
In 1980, Leveritt kept an appointment book where he listed details about himself; height 5'-7", weight 185 lbs.., color of eyes blue, color of hair gray. He also kept a fairly regular schedule... "When ever I worked with Grandfather, we always stopped at 3PM for a cola drink and cookies. He also would often have ice cream (sherbert) at 9PM", Leveritt's grandson, Larls Massey.
In his retirement years, Leveritt could often be found in his barn working on his latest project or driving his tractor. His grandson Larls would often enter the barn and shout "Hey Papaw" and hear Leveritt answer "Yo" to know where he was working at that point.
Having had open heart surgery in 1988, Leveritt knew what to expect when the dye injection test on 10 Oct 2000 showed three of four blocked arteries. The hope of using angioplasty (balloons to open the arteries) was soon lost and his second open heart surgery was on 8AM on 12/13 Oct 2000. Leveritt was also developing prostate cancer and suffered from little liver function. In February 2001, he signed up for a Hospice program and signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order).
He died at home with his wife on Monday, 21 May 2001 at 4 A.M. Friends and family were received on May 23, 2001 at Cashner Funeral Home from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m and then the funeral was held on Thursday, May 24, 2001 at First Assembly of God Church.
Leveritt's body was laid to rest at the Menard Cemetery north of Livingston, Texas in Polk County. This cemetery is used by members of his wife's family and a few miles south of the Blue Water Cemetery that is used by members of his parent's family. For the first two years, Leveritt had a metal headstone that listed his birth date as 1923 but this headstone was replaced with a corrected headstone on Saturday, 10May2003 by his wife, and children.
• Leveritt Massey's Bible, returned to his second born son.
• Interviews with Leveritt and Sally Massey by his grandson, Conan Larls Massey Jr.
• Wedding License #43174, Volume 56, Page 396, Jefferson County, Texas.
• Professional and Conduct Records of Raymond Leveritt Massey from the National Archives and Records Administration, National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100 http://www.nara.gov/regional/stlouis.html