Raymond "Ray" Fannin died Friday after succumbing to injuries related to a motorcycle accident in Louisville, Ky. He was 63.
“It’s been a tough one for everyone; it’s been hard for it to seek in,” said Western Reserve district treasurer and assistant girls’ basketball coach Brett Robson.
An example of true love
On Nov. 1, 1980 Ray married his high school sweetheart and love of his life Ellen (Parker) Fannin of 39 years. It could be said from that day on the two of them were never apart.
Wakeman mayor and a good friend of Fannin’s, Chris Hipp, said when you talked about Fannin “it was never just Ray — it was ‘Ray and Ellen.’”
“Those two were such a great example of what togetherness is about,” Hipp said through tears for his friend. “If you saw Ray, you saw Ellen. If you saw Ellen, right behind her was Ray and their daughter was always with them. I can’t say enough about them and their family. They were a model family.
“I think the community always saw them as a special couple. They were just together all the time.”
Fannin was no stranger to the business world. In fact, that was how many people got to know the 1974 Western Reserve graduate.
He has owned and operated the Wakeman Laundrimat, Car Wash, and Wakeman Self Storage for 35 years, with his wife Ellen alongside. In 2014, in addition to Wakeman businesses, Huron Lakeshore Laundry was established in Huron. He also formed Fannin Brother's Inc. in 1976 and ran it 41 years along with his brother Don Fannin.
“He was so crafty with his hands,” Hipp said. “Ray’s from a good family and hard working. They can build anything. They had a vision and they designed it most of the time themselves and it aways came out great. They had a (defining) trait and that was just outstanding workmanship.”
Though he wore many hats in his work life, that didn’t mean the quality of his work suffered. Hipp said Fannin and his brother — who often worked together on most of their projects over the last 50 years — recently fixed a barn roof for him. He said that project will always hold a special meaning to him now.
“I think this project is definitely going to touch my heart every time I pull in the driveway and see that barn,” he said. “It was a big project and for it would have been a big project for anyone else, but for him and his brother they acted like it was nothing.”
Avid school supporter
He was also an avid fan of the WRHS basketball team, and just about every other athletic program at the high school. Robson said Fannin was “at every event.”
“The basketball, of course, you could pretty much guarantee you’d find him there,” he added. “He was just so supportive of the program and all of the athletic programs. He’d show up to just about any of the events. You could find him at volleyball, track ... they were very supportive of it all.”
Fannin’s support and love for people extended beyond the playing fields though.
A kind-hearted man
“He was just a very kind, generous, helpful person,” Robson said.
“And of course with his stature, he was just big, tall fella and he just had a presence when he walked into a room. He was a very kind-hearted man. He always had a story or a smile and he always said something that just made you feel good.”
Robson said calling Fannin and his wife “kindhearted” people, “honestly that doesn’t even do them justice.”
Hipp said the Wakeman man always made time for people — even when you knew he was busy on his next project. He made everyone feel important.
“He never seemed to be in a rush or like he didn’t have a million things to do that day,” Hipp said. “He and his wife and daughter were not far apart at any time. One special thing he always talked about was how he always took his mom out to dinner.
“It’s difficult. It’s hard to lose anybody — a sibling or wife or husband or child — death is terrible,” the mayor added.
“And this is a great community and we’re all here to help (the Fannin family) get through this. They’re a very well liked family. This is going to be a tough one as (deaths) are. But they’re just just a very special family to this community and to me especially.”
Morman Funeral Home in Wakeman will be in charge of all services for visitation and funeral. Visitation will be held at the Wakeman Congregational Church on Abbott St. from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday. Funeral services will also be held at Wakeman Congregational Church at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Burial to follow at Wakeman Cemetery.