The fabric of our family was forever altered when “Grandpa Ray” passed away peacefully, but suddenly and unexpectedly, at his home on June 24, 2017.
Orlan Ray Gagon was born in Mojave, California, to Orlan Elmo Gagon and Vera Hanson, who preceded him in death. He and his siblings, Gale Evans and Gerald Paul Gagon, had a joyful childhood in Provo, Utah, where they learned to work hard, be frugal, to serve others with respect and kindness, and to value and honor the freedoms inherent in the United States.
Ray married Sherri Ann Simpson and together they became the parents of three beautiful and healthy children. Even though they later divorced, they continued a respectful friendship focused on their three children: Nykele Leavitt (Dennis) of St. George; Kori Lynn Brown (Ellis) of Loa, Utah; and Jeremy Ray (Dawn) of Grantsville.
Ray’s children became the light and hope of his life and he always worked hard with a focus on them – not himself. Ray was also married for a time to Connie Brown who has remained a friend.
Ray was a craftsman, and was happy and fearless. He was a founding partner of the famous “Heaps-A-Pizza Brick Oven” restaurant in Provo, Utah, located just across the street of his boyhood home. He spent most of his career as a brick mason and construction supervisor for several companies – including Knudsen, Marnell, and Jacobson Construction Companies where he made several lifelong friends. He loved the satisfaction of seeing a vision come to fruition, and always made sure every single stone was in its proper and perfect place. He took exceptional pride with his efforts on the LDS Conference Center. He was a man of extraordinary common sense, and had a knack of “measuring twice and cutting once” in every aspect of his life.
Ray was a self-described mediocre dad, but an ultra-fantastic grandpa. He came by the title “Grandpa Ray” honestly, and reached the full measure of his potential as he loved, served, tended, taught, mentored, laughed with, and gave sage advice to his nine grandchildren (Jeffrey, Dallas, Landon, McKaylee, Kelton, Madisson, Alexis, Wyatt, and Ty) and five great-grandchildren (Miley, Ansley, Bryson, Addalynn, and Grigg), who loved and adored him.
Since retirement, he spent the final nine years of his life in St. George and grew to love his meticulously remodeled home, which was a haven for family barbecues and swimming parties, his group of ultra-friendly neighbors who will miss his candid expressions and opinions about most everything, and his community basked in sunshine and red dirt. Most of all, he will be missed by his family – who have been forever changed for the better by his genuine honesty, his contagious wisdom, and his influence for good.
Because life is a journey, it may be most important to “finish strong.” Grandpa Ray did just that. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he found his way back into activity, and could always be counted on to be in his designated seat every Sunday. He recently received his patriarchal blessing with the help of loving leaders, and had set his sights on other important goals. He conquered some longtime challenges, and found faith and solace in his daily prayers and scripture study.
The family expresses a special thanks to the Snow Canyon LDS 11th Ward for their genuine friendship, acceptance, kindness, and embrace.
The world would be a much better place if it was filled with hard working, conscientious, family loving, and service oriented men like Ray Gagon. He was a patriot and defender of goodness. We love him forever and know that the reunion will be happy in heaven with those that preceded him in death – including his grandparents and parents, and his grandson, Dallas Arlen Brown. Keep things in order there, until we meet again. “Love Ya, 10-4, Bye.”
An “Eleventh Hour Toast” and tribute will be given by the St. George Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at Metcalf Mortuary on Tuesday, June 27, at 6 p.m. A viewing for family and friends will follow from 6:30 – 8 p.m. that evening. Friends may also call the next morning from 9 – 9:30 a.m.
Funeral services will also be held at the Mortuary on Wednesday, June 28, at 10 a.m., and interment will be at his favorite spot in the Loa, Utah, City Cemetery (next to his grandson Dallas) at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon.
In lieu of flowers, Ray requests you make donations to the Elks Lodge, Wounded Warriors, or the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund, which were three of Grandpa Ray’s favorite charities.