Born Thursday, March 26, 1936
Died Saturday, December 29, 2018
A Wonderful Life Remembered: Theodore Roosevelt Ragsdale, Jr.
Born to Theodore and Lilla Elliott Ragsdale on March 26, 1936, Ted Jr., as he was affectionately known, became part of the third generation of funeral directors in the Ragsdale family. He is a graduate of the historic Manual Training High School, class of 1954; a fact of which he was extremely proud. It was at M.T.H.S. in Barbering class that he met his future wife, Drucilla. After graduation, he attended Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where he pledged the Gamma Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated in the Fall of 1955. After Ted Sr. became ill, his father requested he return to Oklahoma to help with the family business. He enrolled in the University of Oklahoma in Norman and would drive home on the weekends. Because of the segregationist climate in 1958, Ted Jr. was not allowed to participate in commencement ceremonies, but instead was sent his diploma in the mail. He is the second African-American student to graduate from the University of Oklahoma. He graduated from Worsham School of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinios in 1959 and returned home as a licensed embalmer.
His love for his community in Muskogee began with the example set by his parents. Throughout the civil rights movement and thereafter, he gave to individuals and organizations who were “fighting the good fight”. In the years that followed, he was asked to sit on several community boards and committees previously unavailable to blacks in Muskogee. He often met with public officials to discuss disparities affecting the black community. Being the humble man that he was, he never wanted any accolades or attention brought to himself; simply change and improvements for the betterment of his community. When asked to donate his time or money, Ted Jr. never hesitated.
Ted Jr.’s legacy of funeral service was a responsibility taken seriously by him. Honoring his father and grandfather’s memory was the guiding force behind his decision to lead a life of dignity, while being humble and kind to all. Ted participated in local, state and national funeral service organizations and has received many awards in the funeral industry. His dedication and commitment to his craft were unsurpassed. When Urban Renewal forced the previous funeral home at 422 Denison Street to move in 1986, while bittersweet, he was so proud of the new, state-of-the-art facility built on his father’s land on the corner of Military Boulevard and Talladega Street. Ted later petitioned Muskogee City Council and had Talladega Street renamed “Tollett Road” to commemorate Dr. Harrell Tollett (a prominent black dentist in Muskogee). The business continued at this location until October 2015.
His greatest joy in life was his family. His grandson Drew was raised in funeral service, helping his “Paw Paw” as part of the staff since he was 9 years old. He was married to the love of his life, Drucilla for forty-four years until her untimely death on January 9, 2018.
He was a veracious reader, often devouring at least two newspapers daily. His reverence for education and achievement was a true example to his children. He loved as he lived; with a gentle kindness and loving spirit.
On December 29, 2018, Ted Jr. quietly passed away. He leaves to cherish his memory his daughters, Cindy Parker, Kimberly Ragsdale and Valerie (Harold) Ragsdale-Aldridge, all of Muskogee, OK; grandsons Drew and Quincy Ragsdale and a host of relatives and friends. Those whose lives he has touched will remember him as a man who was kind to all, humbly grateful for God’s blessings and willing to help anyone at anytime. The world is better for having his indelible footprint on humanity and all who knew him. His service will always be an everlasting memory.
A Home Going Service is scheduled, Saturday, January 12th, 2019, 10:00 a.m., Timothy Baptist Church, 5530 W. Okmulgee, Muskogee, OK; with entombment to follow in Memorial Park Mausoleum. Public viewing at the service 9:00 a.m. until service time.
Public Visitation will be Thursday, January 10th, and Friday, January 11th 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Masonic Rites, Friday January 11th at 6:00 p.m. Kappa Memorial Service is scheduled at 7:11 p.m.
The family has been cared for by House of Winn Funeral Homes