Ray Dewey Neff of Clarendon; born April 30th, 1933 in Clay County, West Virginia, was surrounded by love as he was called home by the Lord on July 7th, 2020 at 6 Pm at Unity Hospital. His passing came after an over 30 year battle with COPD and a 20 year battle with cancer.
Ray was predeceased by his father Joe Liberty Neff; mother, Sarah Julemmy (Bragg) Neff; and Aunt Lillian Neff of Albion. Also, brothers Buddy Neff, Roy Neff, Woodie Neff, Troy Neff; and sisters Blanche McCune, and Fonda Lee Nichols.
Ray is survived by his son Christopher Mark Neff, Daughter-in-law Sarah (Cannioto) Neff, Granddaughters Lillian Neff and Annabelle Neff. Also his brother Orgle Neff of Arcata, TX, and sisters Shirly Davis and Wanda Taylor of West Virginia.
Born in the depression and losing his older brother to an accident when he was 4 and his mother to cancer in 1955. He was known as a hard working, hard drinking and hard fighting man. He loved hunting and fishing in West Virginia and later in New York. In his life he was a coal miner, a logger, a farm laborer (whose specialty was pesticide application). He was a migrant worker for most of the 60's travelling between NY and West Virginia. In NY he mostly worked on the Elba Muckland for Charles Forjone. In the 70's he started living on New Guinea Road and in 1980 had a son with Charlies' daughter Carol. On Jaunary 28th, the day his son was born, at the age of 47, Ray became a father and a little less wild.
In the mid 80's he had a mild stroke and was diagnosed with emphysema and COPD and was told that his lungs would fail before he could make it to 62. Being the man he was he worried but fought on. He took up growing and selling vegetables at market, first at the Kiwanis Club Flea Market and at the Fair ground in Batavia. And, finally, at his favorite, the East Avon Flea Market. The rest of the 80 and 90's rolled by with farming, hunting, and a lot of good times. He watched his son graduate in 1999, but in 2000 he wasn't feeling well and was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors gave him 5 years to live.
Not willing to allow this news to break him, he started camping in the Southern Tier and eventually built a cabin. During the next several years he recovered a little and went back to farming and back to the market he enjoyed so much. In fact in 2009, at the age of 76, Ray started a new adventure. He and his son started selling at a new market - the Rochester Public Market. He continued with the markets and farming until the age of 81, when he finally decided to retire.
Ray's life was filled with joy and excitement again when his fist granddaughter, Lillian, was born in 2014 and again in 2016 when he welcomed his second granddaughter Annabelle. His love became watching and hearing them play and buying them toys and sweets. Ray was bed ridden July 1st of this year, when he helped celebrate Lily's 6th birthday. He enjoyed pizza and ice cream as well as watching the kids play and open their new presents. He was in rare form that night and the next day he was taken to the hospital and then passed a short time later.
Rays life was like A Tale of Two Cities. He was hard and relentless and soft and gentile. He was a wild man then a kind old gentleman who loved working the land and selling the "fruits of his labor". Throughout his life he always had a sense of humor and hope. He never backed down from a fight with any man, or anything. He was his own man, he did things his own way and never listened when others told him that he couldn't. He was my father and my best friend.
As per Ray's request, there will be no funeral. His body will be returned back to the earth which was part of his entire life. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc. Holley. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the family to help with final expenses.
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