Obituary: Howard Raley
There is no greater testament to Howard E. Raley Jr.—to the significance of his life and the mark he has made on the lives of others—than the gathering of his family to help usher him from this world in the midst of a global pandemic. He passed peacefully and with extraordinary dignity at his home in Glenwood Springs on May 30, 2020.
Mr. Raley was born January 12, 1943, in Rifle, Colorado, son of Howard E. Raley Sr. and Angelina Ada Mazzuchi, two families with extensive roots in the Western Slope. Mr. Raley grew up on various small farms around Silt and graduated from Silt High School in a class of thirteen. Immediately thereafter, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served on the USS Coral Sea, spending three years traveling throughout the Pacific Rim from Japan to Australia. During his fourth enlisted year he was stationed at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where he met his future wife, Annig Agemian, to whom he was married for nearly 54 devoted years. Mr. Raley spent his working career in various retail positions, from sales representative to manager and owner, in Los Angeles, Grand Junction, and, ultimately, Glenwood Springs.
A true paterfamilias, Howard oversaw the evolution of the Raleys from a regional family to one that realized his early dreams of cosmopolitanism. He himself was able to travel and see much of the world—from climbing Mt. Fuji while in the service to later trips with Annig to Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, the UK, Chile, and the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. He was though deeply attached to, and firmly established in, Colorado, and over the years he hiked, biked, and skied the back country at Maroon Bells, Independence Pass, Vail Pass, Gothic Mountain, Rifle Gap, Powderhorn, Williams Peak, and of course Sunlight. In his 40s and 50s and into his 60s, Howard was a devoted, year-round, endurance athlete and he competed locally in the Fall Color Classic 26-mile run and the Doc Holliday 35-mile trail run, as well as the Birkebeiner 55-k ski race in upper Wisconsin.
A committed autodidact, he was more well read and had a keener eye for landscape design and a sharper logical mind than his three children, an English professor, an architect, and an immigration case analyst. They will be forever grateful to him for ensuring that they obtained the formal education not readily available to rural populations in the mid-20thcentury. Apart from his family and his library, Howard’s legacy is his garden, a true work of art that to his great pride was recognized as “garden of the month” two years in a row.
He could be quite stubborn, it must be said of all Raleys, but he was at the same time remarkably open to new experiences and new people. It will surprise no one to learn that he drafted his own obituary in the year before his death, as it would not be a surprise to him to learn that his family had rewritten it. What he wrote was a characteristic deflection of attention away from himself to his family: his loving wife; his three children and their partners, Rita (Russell), Howard (Caren), and Ariella (Kodjo); and three fantastic grandsons, Zachary and Gabriel (Deb) and Kobina (Ariella). He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Diane, and he is survived as well by his brother, David, his sister Karma, his nephews, John, J.D., and Wade, and his niece, Stormy.
In lieu of flowers, of which Howard’s garden is full, donations may be made to the Calaway-Young Cancer Center’s foundation, which funds the Walk and Talk cancer support group that was his anchor in the last years of his life. The family wishes especially to acknowledge the work of Calaway-Young’s nurses and support staff and to extend its heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the community who helped Howard and Annig through this difficult and transformative period. Because of COVID-19, the memorial will be virtual with details to be determined.
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