Raymond Carl Zaccone, 71, of Halfway, Oregon died on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho with his family and close friends at his side. Due to the worldly events happening, the service for Ray has been postponed. Date and time will be announced.
Ray was born on October 25, 1948 in Youngstown, Ohio to parents Arthur and Vivian Zaccone. In their early years, Ray and his two brothers, Charles (Chuck) and Arthur (Art) Zaccone, endured many struggles in Ohio. In 1959, Ray and Chuck moved to Idaho where they were raised by their loving uncle Joseph and aunt Josephine Zaccone along with their two cousins, Frank and Tony.
After moving to Idaho, it took awhile for Ray’s roughness to wear down. He joked that he and Chuck had developed quite the reputation during their first years there. Apparently the local high school was not thrilled to get "another Zaccone" when Ray moved into 9th grade! In time, though, Ray learned to channel his energy and excelled in school and athletics (and was student body president his senior year). He graduated from Hagerman High School in the spring of 1966.
The month before his 18th birthday, Ray bargained with his parents to join the US Army at a time when the Vietnam War was nearing its peak. He didn't just want to help our country, he wanted to fight for it, and as a paratrooper no less. Just months after his high school graduation, Ray joined the Army and began serving his country in Fort Lewis, Washington.
Over the next three years, Ray “Zac” served two tours in Vietnam as a proud soldier in C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. While overseas, he experienced far more than most of us could imagine, and his recollections of these times were incredibly vivid. Ray survived some of the hardest fought (and most costly) battles of the war (including Dak To), and he lost many brothers during this time (and more from post-war complications). Although this was a heavy burden to bear, out of respect and gratitude for those he served with, Ray bore it without question or regret. When asked about how he made it through, he would answer without any hesitation: “it was the quality of men I served with”. Ray was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his courageous combat service.
Ray's service to our country was a sacrifice - one he was proud to make, but a sacrifice nonetheless. His time overseas shaped and defined him in big and sometimes challenging ways for the rest of his life. Yet his character, bravery, and will remained strong, and he managed to carve out a beautiful life. Against steep odds, Ray had a long, successful career, built a big, loving family of his own, and amassed a healthy following of friends and admirers along the way.
After discharging from the Army in 1969, Ray moved back to Ohio where he worked for the Erie Railroad until 1978. In 1972, he married Debi Miller. They were married for 10 years and had two children together - Nicole and Mark.
Because of instabilities and uncertainties in the railroad business, Ray moved back to Idaho in 1981, where he began his career with the Idaho Power Company. He lived and worked in Hagerman and Swan Falls until 1983, when he moved to Halfway, OR to work in the Hells Canyon power plants. Ray spent the remainder of his career here, and retired in May 2008.
Ray met Julie Kimbrough at Stockmen’s in Halfway over Labor Day weekend in 1991. Julie had been in town visiting her sister Jonie, who’s husband (Kurt) worked with Ray at Idaho Power. Jonie introduced them and Ray literally swept Julie off her feet as they danced and talked the night away. They were married on June 19, 1993. Julie brought two additional daughters to Ray - Janell and Afton.
Family was of the utmost importance to Ray. He enjoyed spending time with his beloved children - Nicole, Mark, Janell, and Afton - and his 10 grandchildren, who lovingly called him Papa ‘Cone. Ray also cherished spending time with his buddies, hunting, fishing, camping (especially at the annual Duck Creek campout), and was an avid Cleveland Browns and Boise State Broncos football fan. He loved riding his horse in the mountains, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, and his Harley. Ray was also an excellent dancer, and he especially loved dancing with the “older” women who knew how to two-step and waltz. Something that everyone remembers about Ray was his unique laugh. He could be anywhere in a crowd or around a bonfire, and, the minute he laughed, everyone knew he was there!
It was very important to Ray that his friends and family, including those brothers he served with in Vietnam, knew he was only a phone call away no matter the time of day or night. He spent countless hours on the phone with the many whom he loved and cared about. Ray’s favorite saying was “Airborne All the Way”. He often counseled his buddies, “It’s okay to look back at your past, but don’t stare.” Ray was very proud of his time in the Army, his family, and his wife. His grandchildren loved being with Papa ‘Cone. Ray was a warrior and a husband, a fighter and a listener, a father, a grandfather, and a friend.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents Arthur and Vivian Zaccone; Aunt Josephine and Uncle Joe Zaccone, whom he affectionately called “mom and dad”; best friends Doyle Owsley and Steve Welch, and numerous brothers whom he served with.
Ray is survived by his wife Julie Zaccone of Halfway, OR; daughters Nicole (Frank) Langley of Hubbard, OH, Janell Stone of Boise, ID, and Afton (Taylor) Dixon of Camas, WA; son Mark (Jennifer) Zaccone of Broomfield, CO; brothers Arthur (Phyllis) Zaccone of Lowellville, OH, Chuck (Evelyn) Zaccone of Buhl, ID, Frank (Rilla) Zaccone of Forest Grove, OR, and Tony (Lynn) Zaccone of Twin Falls, ID; grandchildren, Mia, Ava and Emma Langley, Addison and Claire Zaccone, Christopher (CJ), Isabelle and Jase Stone, Davin and Abigail Dixon; numerous nieces, nephews.
For those who would like to make a donation in honor of Ray, the family suggests the 173rd Airborne Brigade Association or VFW post #7847 through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services, PO Box 543, Halfway, Oregon 97834. Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com
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