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Joseph Raya

September 30, 1922 April 22, 2020
Joseph Raya
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Obituary for Joseph Raya

Joseph C. Raya, 97, of Peoria, passed away on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

Joe was born in Peoria on September 30, 1922 to immigrant parents from Zahle, Lebanon, Abraham Raya and Sophie (Maloof) Raya. He married Gladys Shullaw on January 16, 1944.

Joe is survived by one son, Joseph S. Raya, three daughters, Caryle Martin (Keith), Barbara Raya-Hash (Joe Hash), Patricia Raya, six grandchildren, Steve Raya, Leah Fulton (Gale), Tony Jenkins, Shea Jenkins, Bret Hash (Kristen Chonowski) and Rachel Feloni (Edmond), nine great grand children and four great-great grand children.

Joe was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, his parents, two brothers and two sisters.

Joe was a 1940 graduate of Spalding High School. Two years after graduating high school he enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He became a Central Fire Control Gunnery Sergeant and flew B-29 bombers. After 42 months he was honorably discharged.

After being discharged, Joe came home to work in the family business as a wholesale beer and liquor distributor. Soon after his lifelong affinity to automobiles had him working at Downtown Chevrolet as their General Sales Manager. In 1954, Joe went to work for Graves Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealership in Chillicothe as their General Sales manager until his retirement in 1987. During that period he chartered the T.M.O. (Trusted Men of Olds) Group, which was a well-known local trademark for all Oldsmobile dealerships in the area. He was Secretary-Treasurer and later President of the Metro Dealer Association. He also co-chaired the annual Jail and Bail with Sheriff George Shadid for many years benefiting the American Cancer Society. Throughout the years, Joe received several awards of appreciation for volunteer activities from the Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce.

After retirement, Joe became an avid golfer, playing two to three times a week with family and friends. He enjoyed playing in a Monday league that traveled to different courses around central Illinois. In his late 80s he started limiting his golf travels and stuck to the Peoria courses joining a senior league mostly playing with his good buddies at Kellogg. He was still enjoying his golf game late last summer. Joe filled the rest of his time watching the Cubs, Bulls or Bears and working puzzle books.

He will be dearly missed by his family, caring neighbors and friends. When asked about his life, he would tell you he certainly got his money’s worth. We’ll all remember his replies when asking of his well being, “I’m still looking down at the ground” or “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lord willing” or “I’m sitting in the front row”. He has moved from that front row to his seat of everlasting peace.

Arrangements are being entrusted to Wright and Salmon Mortuary. At Joe’s request, there will be no public services. There will be a private service for the family at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Joe’s name to St. Jude Affiliate.

Friends may sign the online guestbook or send condolences to


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