Graveside service for Joe P. Ragsdale Jr., 65, of Lawton, Oklahoma will be at 11:00 AM on Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the Fort Sill Post Cemetery, with Pastor Terry Marsh officiating.

Due to social distancing restrictions caused by COVID-19, it will not be open to the public.

Joe passed away at home on Sunday, March 22, after a long battle with emphysema.

He was born on September 18, 1954, in Muskogee, Oklahoma to Paul Joe Ragsdale Sr. and Ella Catherine Ragsdale, née Davis. He was a mischievous boy, always in motion, and from his youth until his passing he was a cowboy through and through. He held down odd jobs while pursuing his dreams of rodeoing in the PRCA. When those rodeo dreams didn’t pan out quite like he planned, he joined the U.S. Army in 1977 as a clerk/typist and was stationed in Germany. But being in the Army didn’t keep Joe from rodeo life. He found the European Rodeo Cowboy Association and kept doing what he loved. While on leave from Germany in 1980, Joe got bucked off a bull and broke his neck, ending up at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for his recovery. While there he met Claudia Frabotta, a medic at the hospital, and they were married August 22, 1981. On his second tour in Germany, in 1988, he won the European Rodeo Cowboy Association All-Around Cowboy Championship.

They were blessed with two children, and Joe (mostly) put aside rodeo for the time being so he could be present for them at ball games, orchestra concerts, rock band shows and the like. He was a wonderful father, always thinking of Ryan and Kaycie, and so proud of them both. As adults, if they had a problem they called Dad; Joe was a great problem solver.

Because Joe felt Oklahoma was God’s Country, and thus the only place to live, they spent the majority of Joe’s Army career in Lawton. He had become a field artilleryman, and that made it easy to get stationed at Fort Sill. He was also stationed in Germany twice, deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, and went to Korea for a solo tour before retiring from the Army in June, 1997. The family remained in Lawton, where they had already purchased a home, and Joe became a farrier for several years. Later he worked in civil service on Fort Sill, first as a supply clerk at DFAS, then as a management analyst at the Installation Resource Management Office, eventually retiring in 2015. His favorite career, however, was definitely retirement itself!

Joe always held others in higher regard than himself. That is what made him such a wonderful son, brother, husband, father and friend. He put his family’s needs first, always wanting to make Claudia and the kids happy. If they were happy, so was he. He extended that same care and concern to anybody he knew. If you were fortunate enough to be Joe’s family or friend, you knew he would do anything for you. He was often looking for solutions before you even knew you needed one. He was a character, though, and would give you a hard time just to see if he could “get you to smile”. He loved to make everyone smile, and his sense of humor ensured most everyone did. He also gave the best gifts. He would plan and scheme, going to great lengths to get the one thing you wanted; if the gift brought a tear to your eye, Joe considered that a victory!

As time went on, Joe and Claudia were blessed with two wonderful granddaughters, who brought more joy to his life than even rodeo could! He adored them with everything in his heart and was so looking forward to the birth of their newest granddaughter in September.

In his later years, when the rougher rodeo events became too hard for his aging body, Joe switched to team roping exclusively. He enjoyed nothing more than the camaraderie and competition he found at his friends’ roping pens and the team roping competitions he traveled to. He was proud of every buckle and saddle he ever won, and especially honored by the Cow Catchers Association Hall of Fame buckle he was awarded in 2018. Joe lived his rodeo dream all his life until illness sidelined him in 2017. He roped when he could but was able to do less and less as time went on. He recently had hopes for more roping in his future, since he had a procedure done that should have helped him breathe better once again. Before that could happen, however, he unexpectedly went on to his new home in heaven. We can all close our eyes and just imagine him up there, cowboying on, forever doing what he loved to do and reunited with the loved ones who arrived there before him.

So many nice things can be said about Joe, and they are attributable to the example he found in his Lord, Jesus Christ, who taught us to love one another unceasingly. In loving others we love God, and are his church here on earth. Joe’s greatest desire would be for everyone to believe that Jesus died for their salvation, to repent and be baptized, and so become children of our Heavenly Father and inheritors of eternal life. He wanted to share eternity with everyone.

Joe is survived by his wife Claudia Ragsdale; his son Ryan and his wife Chelsy Ragsdale of Seattle, Washington; his daughter Kaycie and her husband Braylen Rogers of Duncan, Oklahoma; his grandchildren Ella and Rosalind Rogers; and Baby Girl Ragsdale; his sister Jeanne Huskey and her husband Boyce; his sister Carol Brison and her husband Roy; his mother-in-law Paula Frabotta; his brother-in-law Sam Frabotta and his wife Jane; his sister-in-law Jennie Frabotta; and his daughters of the heart, Stacy Jakubiszyn and Claudia Jahn.

He will be missed so very much, but has left us with many happy memories to replay in our minds!

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Ella Ragsdale; his father-in-law Frank Frabotta; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.

There will be one day of viewing at Lawton Ritter-Gray Funeral Home in Lawton, Oklahoma, on Wednesday, 25 March, from 12–9 PM. This will be open to the public, but with only 10 people allowed in at any one time, and social distancing will be practiced for the safety of those in attendance. The family asks you to keep your health in mind and don’t worry about paying your respects at this time unless you feel compelled. They will have a memorial service at some point in the future, when everyone can safely gather to celebrate the life of this special man.

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