Ray Magnani, 81, passed peacefully from this life on March 2, 2019 at his home. Ray was fond of telling people that he’d “lived a good life”. It is this good life full of love for his family, service to his country, and care for all around him for which he will be remembered most.
Born in Zookspur, Iowa to Giuseppe (Joe) Magnani and Nettie Lawson, Ray was “Lucky Number 13” of the 17 Magnani Kids. “Big Baco”, as he came to be known, loved pulling pranks with his brothers and spending time with his sisters. Just before graduating from Madrid High School, Ray joined the U.S. Army. He proudly served for three years in Orléans, France. While overseas, he was able to make three trips to visit his father’s family in Italy.
After returning home from the military, Ray was setup on a blind date with Carolyn Sue Gannon of Dallas Center. They fell in love and married in 1959. Ray and Carolyn made their home in Madrid, Iowa. Three children blessed their union, Sherry Rae, Shawn Thomas, and Shannon Patrick. In 1986, the farm boy moved his family to the big city of Johnston. Ray worked his way up to Senior Foreman at Pirelli/Armstrong Tire Company in Des Moines, retiring after 32 years. He spent retirement enjoying his granddaughters, gardening, working various part-time jobs, and volunteering in the community.
Ray was a veteran, son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. But perhaps his most well-known role was that of neighbor. He held the honorary title, “Mayor of Ceres Circle”, for his commitment to helping others. This led to Ray being recognized as a Neighbor of the Week by The Des Moines Register. Ray gave of his time volunteering for the Ruan Grand Prix, lending his gardening skills to the City of Johnston, and leading the Johnston Lions Club. For his outstanding service to others, Ray received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from the Lions Club International. Ray was also well-known for his impeccable lawn and garden.
Ray was preceded in death by his mother and father, Joe and Nettie Magnani; his two sons, Shawn and Shannon “Shanny Pat”; seven sisters and three brothers; and his father-in-law, Heral Gannon. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn of Johnston; daughter Sherry and husband Greg Drake of Madrid; granddaughters, Natasha and Nadia Drake of Des Moines; mother-in-law, Elaine Gannon of Johnston; three brothers and three sisters; five sisters- and brothers-in-law; many adored nieces and nephews, neighbors, and friends.
Ray gave of himself even in death. His family is proud that Ray served as a donor to the Iowa Donor Network, giving many people the gift of life. In honor of Ray’s commitment to helping others, the family asks that donations be made in his honor to the DMARC Food Pantry Network where Ray spent many years helping feed his neighbors in need.
Visitation will be held 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Iles Funeral Homes-Westover Chapel on Hickman Road. A brief celebration of life will commence at 6:30 p.m. with military honors. Online condolences will be welcomed at IlesCares.com.
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