This man. Raymond Roettger. August 21, 1945 – November 27, 2016. Salesman – Servant – Friend.
This man touched so many lives in his short 71 years on earth. In fact, he’s one of the reasons AgriEnergy Resources exists today. He convinced our founder, Dave Larson, that he indeed had to start a business to sell his fertilizers 29 years ago. And here we are today, thriving, thanks to these 2 innovative farmers.
The first time I met Ray was at the ACRES Conference 2 years ago. He came up to me after a session and with a silly grin asked, “Where are you taking me to eat, Mom?” You can imagine my surprise as the age difference was pointed out! I was 25; he was 69. Since then, he’s become more than a co-worker to me. He became a friend.
At this past ACRES Conference we learned just how much he impacted not only us, but his customers as well. It was weird setting up our booth without him, but somehow we made it through. It was made a bit easier by the wonderful words and memories from so many others. Such as Edwin Blosser. Edwin runs Midwest Bio Systems in Tampico, Illinois and has worked with Ray for years. He said, “Ray was a wonderful friend, someone who would empathize with any struggles I would share. Someone who I was comfortable in confiding to, although I had not had the opportunity lately, as our paths didn’t cross much recently. Ray’s passing is a loss that causes us to stop in our tracks, understand anew that life is short and that we want to live it to the fullest, honoring God in thankfulness. I thank God for the privilege/gift of knowing Ray, being able to interact with him, and being challenged to improve as a result of our interaction!”
Another testament to Ray was from our owners, Paul and Barb Aley. They will remember his off the cuff jokes and his passion for the soil. “Ray was so down to earth in personality and literally with his profession. He was/is just priceless and we thank the Lord for him and for knowing him. Ray is unforgettable. I write this laughing as I know he and Dave are swapping stories with great guffaws. Those two and their humor. But at the root of both these personalities was integrity of caring for life: soil, crops, people.”
J.P. Aley adds his first impression of Ray was not what he expected. He found Ray standing up, with his head in a lampshade! Turns out that was the only place Ray had cell service as he was trying to talk with a customer. “I will forever be grateful to Ray,” J.P. said. “Sure he was a fantastic salesman, and will be greatly missed at AER; but even more importantly, I will always be grateful for the kind of person he was. He helped people, and loved doing it. We’re all lucky to have known him.”
Lucky we are. His fellow salesman always looked forward to working with him and hearing him speak at seminars.
“He could turn a dry and technical topic like soil fertility into a motivational speech that left the group of farmers pumped up and ready to take on any challenge,” said sales agronomists Gary Campbell. “I will always remember the 2 legged horse videos and pictures of tractors buried to the cab, reminding us to find humor in any situation and give thanks for the many blessing in our lives. It could always be worse!”
Sales agronomist Ken Musselman remembers, “I think of the time several years ago before cell phones when I was helping Ray with summer field visits. We finished a long day in his area and were heading north for more visits the next day. There were a couple of people from Australia with us so we were in at least 2 vehicles. Ray and I got to Terre Haute at 2am and Ray said it was time to call it a day. So we were sitting in a parking lot facing the highway so we could flag down the other vehicles to let them know we were stopping. Ray and I had trouble keeping our eyes open as we watched for them. You could always count on short nights when traveling with Ray. He always said he didn’t want me to get bed sores.”
But that wasn’t all Ray became known for at AgriEnergy. He named his GPS after our communication gal, Mardel Robinson. “So she could always tell me where to go,” he used to say.
That sense of humor will definitely be missed. Especially by our human resources gal Linda Dickinson, “He was a wonderful person and had a big heart! I will miss his phone conversations and his sense of humor.”
And our general manager, Dean Craine. You could always tell when he had been out with Ray. He’d always come back to the office as happy as can be, with a renewed sense of vision.
The list could go on, but I think you get the idea. Raymond Roettger will be greatly missed not only by us, but by many of you too.
So, Ray, if you’re reading this somewhere beyond the clouds, we’d like to send you off with this Irish proverb. May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, May the rains fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.