Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bishop Ray Witter

Courtesy Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

For today's blog post, I thought I would briefly tell the story of Ray Witter, one of the stories featured in the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum's current exhibit Our Community, Our Stories: Through the Eyes of the Jeffcoat Studio.

Witter grew up on a farm south of Abilene.  His family were devout to the Christian faith, and were members of a Brethren in Christ parish, as many people in Dickinson County history have been.  Witter was a cousin to the Eisenhower boys, and was close to the same age as the future President, Dwight.  Since they were related to one another, the two boys knew each other well, and Eisenhower would often visit and work on the Witter farm during the summer.  The Witter family had horses, so the boys enjoyed horseback riding when they had free time.

As the two boys grew up, their lifestyles greatly parted from one another.  Of course, Eisenhower had his famed military career and was an expert in the ways of war.  Witter took a much different path and became a Brethren in Christ pastor, eventually becoming the minister for a church in the Hope, Kansas area, and later attaining the role of Bishop.

After Witter's retirement, he moved to Abilene and worked as a painter and paper hanger.  After Eisenhower became President, Witter and his son were invited to visit the White House, which must have left quite an impression on Witter.  According to a note written by Bill Jeffcoat, which is featured in the exhibit, "This was the proudest moment in Ray's life."

Our Community, Our Stories: Through the Eyes of the Jeffcoat Studio, is currently on display at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum through the rest of August.  Be sure to visit the museum's Facebook page for more information.

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