Monday, October 22, 2018 Elyria 34°


Dr. Raymond J. Jirran


Dr. Raymond J. Jirran, headed home to be with his Creator, Sunday, November 5, 2017. Whether or not he ever gets to the Happy Hunting Ground, he often attended the funerals of others as a sort of "dress rehearsal" for this day. He would remind the reader that his own demise is but a dress rehearsal for the later real thing for the reader.

The first 30 years of his life were spent preparing to earn a living. He was proud that he began and ended in public schools, McKinley Elementary School for Kindergarten in Cleveland and a doctorate in history at Kent State University. In between, he graduated from Saint Vincent de Paul Elementary School and Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland and Saint Joseph's Seminary College in Washington, D.C. Though he was never ordained, he studied for seven years after high school to work in the Black Apostolate with the Josephite Fathers and Brothers.

The second 30 years of his life were spent obtaining the worldly achievements required to make a living, best seen as a full professor of history at Thomas Nelson Community College. As part of his community service as a member of the teaching faculty, he served four terms as President of the Northampton Lions Club, two terms as President of the Citizens Boys Club of Hampton, one term as President of the Virginia Social Science Association and one term as President of the Virginia Conference of University Professors. He was the founding President of the Hampton Roads organizing Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He also served a term on the Newport News Historical Commission. He was an active member of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Partners in Newport News, Virginia.

The final 30 years of his life were spent enjoying what he did during the first 60, most of all with his wife of 53 years, Bette Mae Kelly Jirran. He liked attending daily Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Newport News, Virginia and at St. Mary church in Vermilion, to maintain his spiritual presence. He was also reasonably diligent about maintaining his physical presence through exercise.

In 2015, he moved to Vermilion, to be closer to family. Shortly thereafter his sister-in-law, or as he referred to her as his " sister-in-love" Marty Kelly passed away. He lost his beloved wife, Bette Mae K. Jirran in August of this year. He spent his grief blogging daily at the National Catholic Reporter web site relating the daily Liturgy of the Word to the news of the day.

Always a professor, he regarded his retirement as a sort of sabbatical in which he had to report to nobody except his Maker. Occasionally he would write in scholarly journals. He liked to analyze the Sunday liturgical readings from Sacred Scripture, often translating from the Latin and Greek originals. Much of what he wrote is available at He had no children except those he taught and loved and in whom he survives. Most of all, he enjoyed making his wife happy.

Ray is survived by his brother, James (Barbara) Jirkans and his sister, Maribeth Jergens; he is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Michelle (Steve), Carolyn (Dave), Anne Marie (Jerry), Paul, Maureen (Dave), Keith, Elaine (Andy), Michael ( Lea) and 14 great-nieces and nephews and family friend, Margaret "Buffy" Renwand.

He was preceded in death by his niece, Mary Ellen.

Friends may call Wednesday, November 8, 2017 from 4 to 6:30 P.M., at the Hempel Funeral Home, 373 Cleveland Avenue, Amherst. Closing prayers will be held Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 10:15, at the funeral home followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 11 A.M., at St. Mary Catholic Church, 731 Exchange Street, Vermilion. The Reverend Father Ron Brickner, Pastor will officiate.

Memorial contributions in Ray Jirran's honor can be made to the charity of your choice.

For those unable to attend please visit the funeral home's website to share a memory and sign the guest register, at

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