Ray Vance Kirchner, 85, of Russellville, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 9, 2023, at his residence surrounded by his loving wife of 62 years and family.
He was born December 22, 1937, in Boone County, Missouri, the son of Cortez Henry and Goldie Marie (Fletcher) Kirchner.
Ray attended Trinity Lutheran School.
He was united in marriage on October 15, 1960, at Russellville United Methodist Church to Iona Fern Tambke who survives at the home.
Ray worked his early years for Herbert Tambke at Tambke Petroleum and Feed Company. He also owned and operated a local grocery store in Russellville with his wife, and worked as a school bus driver and mechanic for the Russellville School District. Over the many years Ray worked, he always returned to his passion of truck driving. He hauled livestock, gasoline, diesel and propane for many companies. He worked for Transport Delivery Co. (TDC), Midstate Oil, owned and operated his own truck, and ended his truck driving career with Midland Oil.
He was a long-time member of the Russellville United Methodist Church, Russellville Lions Club, Fraternal Order of Eagles, former volunteer with the Russellville Fire Department, and served on the Russellville City Council for 16 years. During his time on the City Council, Ray was instrumental in the restoration of the Russellville Icehouse and Dollar General.
Ray was active as a driver in the Dirt Track Racing Circuit from 1954-1967. He always followed racing over the years and enjoyed going to the Knoxville Nationals, World of Outlaws. After a tragic accident in 1990, that left Ray unable to work, he focused on restoring a replica of one of his cars. Ray and his son along with many other friends built a B-Modified race car that was on display at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, IA. After the car was built, Ray fulfilled his days by researching and collecting pictures of all the older race car drivers from his time. One of his old friends assisted him in creating a memorabilia display for this collection to be displayed at racing events.
Ray endured many obstacles throughout his life, and many called him “The Miracle Man”. He was a very strong man who fought to the very end with the support of his wife, family, friends and community.
Ray’s greatest love was his family, especially his grandchildren.
Survivors include his wife, Fern Kirchner, Russellville; five children, Allen Kirchner (Darlene), Jefferson City; Lori Kirchner (Nita), Russellville; Lana Kirchner, Russellville; Jennifer (Eric) Bailey, Loose Creek; Jason Kirchner (Jana), California; thirteen grandchildren, Ashley, AJ, Lucas (Rachel), Lydia, Chelsea (Adam), Kyrsten (Dinnin), Dalton, Connor, Isaac (Mady), Ethan (Layne), Shaelin, Reilly, Masen; four great-grandchildren, Anabelle, Jay, Sawyer and Rhett; and a sister, Shirley (Marvin) Bernskoetter, Wardsville.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Harley Kirchner.
Visitation will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 18, 2023, at Russellville United Methodist Church.
A memorial service will be 2 p.m. Saturday at the church with Rev. John Kerr and Rev. Philip Rullman officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Russellville United Methodist Church.
Services entrusted to Trimble Funeral Homes – Russellville. trimblefunerals.com