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RAIES – William Amil "Billy Bones" Raies, 93, went home to be with his Lord on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, at Ellis Funeral Home. Memorial services are scheduled for 4 p.m. at Christian Life Center, with Bill's son, Billy Raies officiating. Pallbearers are Will and Micah Raies, Graham Rioux, Robert Gallegos, Dick Brown and Hugh Robotham. Honorary pallbearers are Joshua Raies, Garrett and Gavin Rioux.
Bill was born April 12, 1914, to William Lian and Rose Young Raies in Mt. Hope, West Virginia. He graduated from Marshall University and while in Huntington, he ran for the West Virginia House of delegates. In 1943, he began a 38-year career as an accountant for the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. His career spanned the time when the atomic bomb was being developed and men like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer walked past his office daily. Bill was an eyewitness of one of the first tests of the atomic bomb at White Sands, N.M.While living in Los Alamos, he served as county treasurer, as board member and treasurer of the YMCA, was heavily involved in the Los Alamos Little League and a member of First United Methodist Church. Bill was active in the Kiwanis club, serving a term as president, and was named “Man of the Half-Century.” Upon retiring from the laboratory, he moved to Sun City West, Ariz. He has been a resident of Midland, Texas, for the last one-and-a-half years where he has been an active member of Christian Life Center.Bill is best known for his compassion and ability to entertain. Though he spent much of his life in physical pain, he had an amazing ability to bring a smile to everyone he met. According to him, he was perhaps one of the greatest “bones” players of all time. (The bones are wooden rhythm instruments shaped like ribs. Bill played three in one hand, with the resulting sound making you think that he was somehow tap dancing with his fingers!) Bill noted that he played with such great groups as the Benny Goodman and Glen Miller bands, although he says that it was never at their request! He worked at the 1939/40 New York World’s Fair and played the bones on one of the first TV telecasts ever shown from the RCA exhibit. Perhaps his greatest performances were when he played before capacity crowds of more than 7,000 people in the Sun City West Sundome for the Performing Arts where he and a tap dancer had a musical duel in the desert! Bill’s performances will live on through You Tube under “Bill Raies Plays the Bones.”His children are grateful that through his faith in Christ, Bill fulfilled the high calling of being a father. He made it easy for them to believe in their Heavenly Father through the love and example of their earthly Dad. Bill is survived by his son Billy Raies, his wife Jan, and grandsons Will, Micah and Joshua Raies, all of Midland, Texas; his daughter Lisa Rioux, her husband Graham, and grandchildren Garrett, Gavin and Liana Rioux all of Glendale, Ariz.; his sister Emily Fadel of Glendale, Calif; sister-in-law Marge Raies; and nieces Melanie Raies and Jennifer Morrison, her husband Ken, and their kids Brent, Shelby and Alyssa. He is preceded in death by his parents, brother Norman, and sisters Madelon and Evelyn.Memorials may be directed to Christian Life Center, 2901 W. Kansas, Midland, Texas, 79701 or Rancho 3M Orphanage Tuition Scholarship Fund c/o Christian Life Center. The family would like to extend their deep appreciation to the staff at Helen Greathouse Manor and to all Bill’s doctors and nurses for the excellent care they gave to him.Arrangements are under the direction of Ellis Funeral Home, 801 Andrews Highway, Midland, Texas 79701 (432)683-5555. To place online condolences please visit www.mem.com.