Edwin Ragland

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Judge Edwin F. Ragland, known as Ed, died Tuesday, May 14, 2002, at the Lutheran Home.

He was born May 29, 1920, in Higginsville, Mo., eldest son of Bernard Edwin and Estella Louise Finley Ragland.

In the fall of 1938 Ed entered William Jewell College at Liberty, Mo., where he was a member of the debate team which participated in many national debate tourneys. During their debate trip to the West Coast, they were royally entertained by actress Mary Pickford at Pickfair, her famous home in Hollywood.

While attending William Jewell College he became a member of Pi Kappa Delta national forensics fraternity and Sigma Nu Greek fraternity.

Ed entered the Army Fir Force Oct. 31, 1941. He graduated from primary training at Thunderbird Field in Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 16, 1942. His basic training was at Minter Field, Bakersfield, Calif., and his advanced training was at Williams Field, Phoenix, where he received his wings and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was stationed at Key Field, Meridian, Miss.; McDill Field, Tampa, Fla.; and the Army Air Base at Greenville, S.C.

Ed and Wilma Jane Squires of Liberty were married Aug. 14, 1942, in Greenville.

He was sent overseas Aug. 12, 1943, serving as a B-25 flight commander in the famed "Flying Tigers" Chinese/American Composite Wing of the 14th Air Force. He was stationed in the China-Burma-India war theater where he flew some 35 combat missions against Japanese troops over Mainland China and naval targets in Southeast China.

During one mission his plane's location was confused with another aircraft, and they were forced to fly out of their established flight pattern. The crew knew they were on the wrong course, but couldn't disobey orders. Being 400 miles from their base, the plane ran out of fuel and the crew was forced to bail out.

Fortunately, the Chinese discovered them and hid them in the jungles from the Japanese who were close by. It took them nearly three weeks to make the tiresome trek back to their base. Ed returned to the states in the fall of 1944, and was discharged as a first lieutenant Nov. 13, 1945. He received the American Defense Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with two battle stars, and the Pilot's Badge of the Chinese Air Force.

Ed returned to William Jewell College, graduating in 1946, and entered Missouri University at Kansas City School of Law where he received his juris doctor degree May 29, 1949.

After passing the Missouri Bar examination, he practiced law in Kansas City for 10 years before moving to Caruthersville, Mo., in 1959, where he practiced law with his brother, Bill.

With his family Ed moved to Cape Girardeau in 1963 when Gov. John Dalton appointed him chief administrative law judge for the Division of Workers Compensation, Southeast Missouri area, with headquarters in Cape Girardeau. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1990. He then became legal counsel for a law firm in Poplar Bluff, Mo., retiring from this position in 1994.

He is past commander and member of the Cape Girardeau Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Elks Lodge, Missouri Bar, Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, Sigma Nu Greek fraternity, Democratic Party, Cape Historical Society, Missouri State Historical Society, and Old St. Vincent's Restoration Board of Directors.

Mr. Ragland is survived by a son, Lee F. Ragland of Cape Girardeau; a daughter, Terri Ragland Goodhart of Shalimar, Fla.; a brother, Judge William L. Ragland of Mobile, Ala.; a sister, Betty Ragland Mansur of Jefferson City, Mo.; two grandchildren, Traci Elizabeth and Jonathan Richard Goodhart.

He was preceded in death by his parents and wife, who died Sept. 1, 1999.

Friends may call at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Funeral Home Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Funeral service will be at the funeral home Monday at 1 p.m., with Dr. Clayton Smith officiating. Burial will be in Lorimier Cemetery, with graveside rites by VFW Post 3838.

Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.