Eddie Raunikar passed away at St. Francis Hospital in Muskogee, OK on Saturday, November 25, 2017 with his wife and daughters by his side. He was 95 years old. He was born in McAlester, OK on July 13, 1922 to Frances and Edward Raunikar, Jr. He started school in McAlester, and his parents welcomed four more boys into the family. Around the age of 12, Eddie along with his family moved to a farm in Grayson Valley.
As a 20-year-old on a fateful summer day at Robbers Cave State Park, Eddie glimpsed Wanda Rea Dunagan, a school mate who lived on a neighboring farm, and was enamored. He later shared with certain family members that he saw her legs and was smitten, but she claims it must have been her blue eyes. The next year, the two were married on July 20, 1943. Prior to marrying, he joined the United States Air Force and served as a Teletype Instructor. While in the service, he and Wanda Rea welcomed daughter Francis Kaye while they lived in Salina, KS (1946).
He earned a Bachelor of Art in Speech and English at Tulsa University and accepted a position as a Speech and Drama teacher at Webster High School in Tulsa. Soon thereafter, he pursued a Master of Education at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) which he earned in 1956. As his career as an educator developed, the family also grew when Marji was born in 1958 in McAlester, OK. During these years, he gained teaching experience in Tulsa, Wilburton, and Hartshorne. Remarkably, he achieved his educational and professional goals in spite of a one-year battle with Tuberculosis.
Eddie was a dedicated educator who advocated for his students. After earning his M.Ed., he was hired as a Principal in Picher and three years later was asked to serve as Principal in Henryetta, OK. The family moved to Muskogee in 1963 where Eddie accepted the role of Public Service Director, and he later returned to the classroom as an English teacher (his favorite teaching area).
Also, in 1963, Eddie and Wanda Rea joined Bethany Presbyterian Church in Muskogee (now Presbyterian Church of Muskogee) where their membership continues.
After retiring from Muskogee ISD in 1982, Eddie actively pursued photography, bread-baking, gardening, church service, and participation in the Silver-Haired Legislature. Eddie was also a founder of the Muskogee Meals-on-Wheels initiative, initiating the process and going on to organize, prepare, and deliver meals. He and Wanda Rea were avid Round-Dancers, and he was a family-expert in the domino game "Moon." He loved his family heritage, and true to his roots, he could speak Slovenian and play an accordion. Eddie's ability to read-aloud The Runaway Pancake is legendary among the children in the family.
Eddie was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Frank, Joseph, and Robert. He is survived by his wife, Wanda Rea and daughters Kaye Dunn (married to Scott) and Marji (married to Bob Ballard), brother Eugene Raunikar of Old Saybrook, CT, granddaughters Jana Kinkade and Julie Jernigan (married to Richard), grandson Kevin Edward Ballard, great-grandsons Britt, Bennett, Noah, and Rhett, and a host of extended family who will miss his humor, intellect, and tremendous affection.
Friends may sign Eddie's memorial book at Foster-Petering Funeral Home from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. Friends and family are invited to a memorial service to celebrate the life of Eddie Raunikar at 3:00 PM on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at Presbyterian Church of Muskogee, 2000 Haskell Blvd, Muskogee, OK with Reverend Jeff Cranton officiating. Prior to the service, the family will share in a private graveside ceremony at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Ft. Gibson, OK.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Presbyterian Church of Muskogee are welcome.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Funeral service arrangements are under the direction of Foster-Petering Funeral Home.
Published on November 27, 2017