'Rags' Ragsdale, 82; Man Of Many Talents

Posted: July 25, 1994

Milton R. "Rags" Ragsdale, a retired federal employee who was talented as an artist, builder and mechanic, died Thursday after a two-year battle with emphysema. He was 82 and lived in Nicetown-Tioga.

Ragsdale worked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for more than 20 years and was a supervisor at the ammunition depot when he retired in the mid-'70s. He had been involved in the production of munitions during World War II.

Throughout his career with the government, Ragsdale had other ventures on the side that he enjoyed and used to enhance the quality of life for his family. For 11 years he was in the home building and remodeling business, and he did his own design work.

He was a sign painter, and on his own time enjoyed doing oil portraits. He did one of his wife that was on his living room wall.

There was also Ragsdale the tinkerer-mechanic who could fix anything.

"My kids came to Grandpop rather than their own father to fix something or

put it together," said Lorraine Ragsdale Johnson, one of his daughters. "I'd have to put it in the car and bring it over to him.

"I was always impressed with his talents. He was a man of many talents," added his daughter, who said he was more like a father than a grandfather to the grandchildren.

"He was very jovial. He liked to tell you jokes and make you laugh. He always had us cracking up about something," said his daughter. "He had a strong belief in God. He was a Christian man. He enjoyed his church and read his Bible. He was a person who believed in God and had a strong faith in God to sustain him, even to the end. He never worried about a thing. He let my mother."

Ragsdale was an active member of Zion Baptist Church and helped to build the baptismal pool. After retiring, he worked with children at Zion's Educational Annex, and his work was recognized with an award from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains.

He loved history and read widely on any historical subject. He also enjoyed following politics, and in the 1950s worked for a time as a Republican committeeman in his 18th Street and Erie Avenue neighborhood.

Ragsdale and his wife of 60 years, the former Kathryn Speller, both were intense baseball fans and loved watching games together, both offering advice and opinions on every play.

He was a graduate of Central High School.

Survivors also include another daughter, Kathryn Ragsdale Polk; two sons, Milton R. Jr. and Frederick L.; six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango streets, where friends may call two hours earlier. Burial will be in Mount Peace Cemetery, 3111 W. Lehigh Ave.


John J. Strain, a retired plant manager and well-known amateur golfer, died Friday. He was 86 and lived in Olney.

Strain was employed by the Saftee Glass Co. in Philadelphia for 41 years and was plant manager when he retired in 1976. He was an Olney resident for 55 years.

He began playing golf at age 10. For many years he carried a 3 handicap. He was a member of the Sandy Run Golf Course in Oreland and was elected to the board of directors 39 consecutive years. In the mid-1960s, he served as president for two years. He also was the club's financial secretary for more than 20 years.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Gladys F. Hinkle; a son, Jon R.; a brother, James; a sister, Katherine Keyser; a granddaughter, and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at at the Mann Funeral Home, 219 W. Tabor Road, where friends may call an hour and a half earlier. Burial will be in Lawnview Cemetery, Huntingdon Pike, Rockledge, Montgomery County.


Othello Henry "Cue" Curry Sr., a professional musician and retired Sun Oil Co. employee, died Wednesday. He was 89 and lived in South Philadelphia.

Curry had worked for Sun Oil for more than 20 years in the maintenance department. After retiring, he worked for Bailey, Banks and Biddle, and later the Academy of Natural Sciences in the mail department.

During his musicial career as a drummer and vocalist, he played with some of the top-name performers and bands. He eventually formed his own band. He was still performing until about three years ago.

Curry was a sports enthusiast who loved baseball and boxing. Another major diversion was deep-sea fishing.

His daughter, Shirley Goods, said her father was a person "at ease with people of all ages. Othello was a joy to know, and his friends were numerous."

Survivors include a son, Dr. Othello H. Curry; another daughter, Carolyn Lewis; four brothers, Newton, James, Russell and Samuel, and his caring companion, Mabel Jones.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Union Baptist Church, 19th and Fitzwater streets, where friends may call two hours earlier. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, routes 3 and 202, West Chester.

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