Ray "Jiggs" Harbour of Portage suddenly passed away on October 1, 2019. Ray was born in Kalamazoo to Raymond and Aileen (Rineveld) Harbour on September 1, 1935.
When big sister, Joan Harbour (Colvin) first saw him, her response was, "Isn't he a cute little jigger!" and thus the nickname of "Jiggs" continues to this day. Growing up in Parchment were many large families with an abundance of kids to play ball and just be kids. In fact, Ray's fondest childhood memories were of the many, many friends he grew up with. With Ray's Dad working at the papermill and mom a homemaker, he relied on the parents of his friends for transportation.
Parchment didn't have a high school at that time, so Ray chose to attend State High over Kalamazoo Central High School, a choice which was pivotal in his journey in becoming a teacher himself.
During the summer he would ride his bike from Parchment to Richland to caddy at Gull Lake Country Club, where he fondly remembers caddying for Dr. Homer Stryker.
Growing up his first love was baseball. He played all the way through high school, played American legion ball and college ball at Western Michigan University.
In 1958, while enjoying a night out at the K&M Bar, a popular college hangout, Ray met the love of his life, a "chi-town" girl by the name of Estelle LeRoy. At that time, Ray was finishing his degree at WMU and looking for his first job. In 1959 he started teaching at Augusta Middle School. The relationship with Estelle (also known as "Sis") was becoming serious and talks of marriage began.
August 20, 1960 Jiggs and Sis were married at Stetson Chapel on the campus of Kalamazoo College. The first two winters were spent at his parents unwinterized cottage on Austin Lake, described by Estelle as, "a real 'love shack' complete with bunk beds and lots of mice for company." Ray started teaching at Portage Central Junior High shortly after the wedding.
The early 1960's saw plenty of growth, as they worked to build a house on Austin Lake as a base for an expected family. After two miscarriages, their first child, Lisa Marie, was welcomed by the ecstatic couple. Three years later, Christopher arrived and Ray was described as being over the moon.
The young family made many lasting memories with the trips they would take with their travel trailer. The travel experience ranged from great all the way to downright disastrous, like the time they got a visit from the police after a tire came off of the trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, or when they had an infestation of mice in Gettysburg, or when a tree limb ripped off the top half of the trailer in Kansas. In spite of some misadventures, the kids loved all the new friends they made at the many campgrounds and stops they visited.
Of the 31 years Ray worked at Portage Schools, teaching at Portage Central Middle School was the highlight of Ray's career. He often reflected on students he had taught, with the first couple of years of students being extra special in his mind.
After taking photography classes at the KIA, Ray's budding interest grew rapidly and jumped from a hobby to a business as Ray began to shoot weddings and high school sports photos. Many kids in Portage and Vicksburg knew Ray not only as a beloved teacher but also as "Mr. Jiggs", the guy that took their sports photographs, pacing the sidelines of games with his camera and backwards ball cap, as well as lining the kids and coaches up for team and individual shots, marking the start of another sports season.
When sports were not in season, the freedom to travel was a real bonus as Ray and Estelle began their retirement years. Estelle worked at Cruise Connections, which allowed her to find and arrange amazing trips to exotic places most only dream of visiting.
Since Ray had a love of teaching and a love of business, it is only natural this his children followed suit; Lisa as a middle school science teacher and driver's education instructor and Chris who entered the world of business and married the love of his life, Lisa Hambley. Chris and Lisa gave Ray and Estelle three beautiful granddaughters, Allie, Lindsay, and Grace. Allie will soon be walking down the aisle with Kaleb Kusmierczyk in Harrisburg.
Bird hunting was a big source of passion and energy for Ray, as each October he and his dog were out in the field. Stories of hunting abound, especially among his hunting buddies including Don Flower, Ron Sackett, Greg Flaska and everyone who ever showed up at the Manton cabin.
How can you ever describe the impact a teacher can have on so many lives, often across generations? During Ray's retirement, countless former students of all ages made it a point to thank him for something he did for them, their children, or their grandchildren. The realization that a teacher had such an impact on even one person is a source of honor and Ray impacted MANY people. Ray's gift of touching lives often started with him striking up a conversation with those he met, commenting on their clothing, shoes, or some personal compliment in order to make the feel welcome and comfortable as a conversation began that often turned into a relationship.
It has been said that a teacher's legacy is not measured in years, but in generations. This is true not only in the way he impacted his students but also in the legacy that his own children are creating right now. He was very proud to see Lisa graduate from MSU and Chris from GMI and make an impact in their own career fields.
Ray passed away suddenly on October 1, after complications from a fall earlier in the summer. He is and will continue to be greatly missed by his family and many in the community.
Surviving are his wife of 59 years, Estelle "Sis" (LeRoy) Harbour; daughter, Lisa Marie Harbour; son, Ray Christopher and his wife, Lisa Mae Harbour; and three granddaughters, Alexis, Lindsay, and Grace Harbour, as well as Bill and Janet LeRoy (brother and sister-in-law) and many special nieces and nephews. Ray was preceded in death by his sister, Joan (Harbour) Colvin. The family will receive friends Saturday, October 5 from 4-7 PM at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009, where a memorial service will take place Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 PM. Memorials may be made to Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, Harbour Memorial or The New Vic Theater.
Please visit Ray's personalized online guestbook at https://www.langelands.com.
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