In memory of
James Lee Rainey, Jr. December 4, 1929 - March 21, 2020 EDMOND James "Jim" Lee Rainey, Jr., 90 years old, passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of Saturday, March 21, 2020. His beloved wife of 68 years, Edith Esther (Normington) Rainey was at his side within minutes along with his children. Jim met his wife Edith Normington at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. Edith was a violin player and Jim won her over by carrying her violin after school. They were in chemistry class together and Edith remembers Jim showing off his new watch and heralding its advertised indestructibility. To demonstrate, he threw it on the floor, and they watched it explode into a million pieces. It was love, and they were married February 17, 1952. Jim was the youngest of three (Sally and Jack, sister and brother, precede Jim in death) and born of James Lee Rainey and Elsie Marie (Mallary) Rainey on December 4, 1929 in Nashville, Tennessee, and raised in Indiana. Jim graduated from Purdue University with degree in Agriculture (and later, received an honorary Doctorate), and Edith from Butler University. Father to 4 boys and a girl, grandfather to 16, and great grandfather to 10. Jim and Edith's story was of great love, selflessness, commitment, and faith. Together they raised 5 children: James Lee III (Tammy), Patrick Jeffrey (Leslie), Robert Lee (Carilyn), Sarah Lee (Randy), and Jason Normington (Gena). Jim and Edith were inseparable, and in retirement, he was often heard responding to Edith, "yes, my love." Jim was "Big J" to his children and a handful of close friends. To them, and many he knew, Big J was larger than life. He had a unique charisma and ability to see solutions in every problem no matter how large or small. He paid close attention to details that mattered, and for his children, he was always looking for opportunities to connect challenges to life lessons later recalled with deep gratitude and no small amount of humor. Big J's antics at Halloween and pretending to hate cats were a constant source of concern and entertainment for his grandchildren and co-workers. A member of the greatest generation and both an Army and Marine Korean War Counter-Intelligence Special Agent who served active duty in Korea (1st Marine Division, 181st CIC Detachment), his values and beliefs were born in the unique moment in history that was his youth. From that, Big J loved history and the greatness of America. His children are acquainted with many historical signs across the highways of America because Jim insisted on stopping at all of them. Jim and Edith's children love remembering his admonishment: "act like you know something;" a regular instruction to each before being introduced to adults or a tense situation. Big J wanted his children to be informed and appreciative of opportunities he saw in abundance. Evening meals were every night, organized with almost military precision, and attendance was required; exemptions rarely granted. If late, his children were chided: "your Mother is not a short order cook," and it took only once to go to bed without dinner to remind the importance of being timely to family meals. It was not until later his children realized that it wasn't about the meal--- it was about being together and learning and loving as a family. Big J frequently traveled nationally and internationally in business and loved to share his experiences with his family. Big J would hold forth at family dinner on economics, history, politics, and that ridiculous music by "those insects, the Beatles." But Jim was an intense and active listener. He always took care to encourage the children to share their activities and experiences and what they learned. Family meals could easily last for several hours. Sometimes his children would fall asleep at the table or fake illness to escape an evening lecture series. Big J was famous for his work ethic, early to bed--and ridiculously early to rise, and his lists. He was a precise and concise writer and the lists live on as witness of his intentions to do the right thing. In the 60's and 70's, he epitomized "The Great Santini" as he feared what the world was or was not teaching his children, and worried about his role as an example to those under his stewardship. Big J was proud of his children, a great father and mentor, and was always generous with his one-on-one time with each. Fond memories are shared by his children of many a teaching moment touched with recommendations, humor, and the insistence on a jointly created "plan" to fix the latest crisis or problem. Jim was a master encourager. All of his children have prized notes of encouragement that came from Jim likely penned early in the morning before he left for work - always on a yellow legal pad. Jim and Edith worked hard to support each of their children's interests, hobbies, and vocations. Jim could have been traveling for weeks yet wouldn't miss a school event no matter how tired. Big J's particular passion (and Edith's) was the subject of work. All of their children would know how to work. No excuses. Here Jim took significant risks to ensure he prepared his children for life. These efforts included arming his boys with chainsaws and axes to be choppers, splitters, and peddlers of firewood. Big J assigned work to be done by hand that might take all summer but could have been easily accomplished in two hours with a machine. The family home's meandering sprinkler system provides the best example: Dug with trenching shovels by mere boys over the course of a brutally hot summer earned the patient praise of a father who loved his boys for their eagerness to learn from him. Sarah, the only daughter and the lone sentinel for all things estrogen standing against brothers prone to stupid stuff was the apple of Big J's eyes. When he learned the stupid stuff had included unmitigated teasing of their only sister, Jim unleashed his Marine military discipline on his sons. For nothing lifted Big J's countenance higher or brighter than his favorite only daughter entering the room. A long tradition and the source of many stories involved the annual 3-week family wilderness camping and fishing trips to Canada for over a decade. These were meticulously planned affairs involving daily lists, carefully packed bags, scheduling, and military-like tactics, staffing, and execution. As there were great lessons to be learned by his 5 children, Jim would add risk to adventure: the family camped on remote islands and lakes south of the Northwest Territories. Big J always knew where he was and where he was going, as his picture attestsdespite storm clouds, and being in the middle of nowhere, Big J always had compass in his shirt pocket to ensure he always had a proper bearing. Big J's lists and thorough preparation would keep the family safe from mistakes and the unsuspecting animals safe from the Raineys. Jim was polite, kind, and welcoming to everyone from all walks of life and across the globe. He and Edith invited international students to live with and attend school with his children. They subsidized those students' educations and encouraged their children to emulate their example. Jim and Edith wanted to show their children to always include, welcome, and learn from others. Jim could be demanding, but no less so on himself. He was big-hearted, forgiving, and generous. Most people who talk about him speak first of his integrity and unwavering honesty. He had the personality and countenance of a person you would hate to disappoint. His leadership skills and business acumen were well known and the reason many people called on him for advice. He was always calm under pressure, but always ready with a quip or saying that revealed an endearing sense of humor and a light touch with people. Jim lead and served many organizations. His roles and achievements included President of Kerr-McGee Chemical and Vice President of Kerr-McGee for 21 years and Farmland (President and CEO - 1986 to 1991). These capstones of a business career illustrated his strong and steady leadership through challenging times. In Kansas City, some of his service included Director for Commerce Bank, St. Lukes Hospital, and Board of Regents for University of Missouri, Kansas City. Nationally and internationally, Jim served as Director for Jacob's Engineering, and as Advisory Board Member for Rabobank Nederland, Marshfield Medical Clinic, the Midwest Research Institute, and the Hudson Institute. During his business career and in retirement, Jim served and led many nonprofit organizations, and was known for his integrity, tenacity, and vision. Giving back to his community was important. He served on the Deer Creek School Board (Edmond, OK) and led the development of a first ever non-profit public school's foundation in Oklahoma which continues 40 years later to provide critical supplemental funding to the Deer Creek School District. He was a longtime vestry member and officer, and Sunday School Teacher for St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Edmond. Shortly before his death, the family found a letter from 1975 from a neighbor who said, "I congratulate you on winning the Deer Creek election and commend you for the family that you are raising
I appreciate and recognize the kind of standards that you maintain
they are noticed. I commend you for just being Jim Rainey." Numerous stories abound of Jim Rainey's leadership, example, and quiet generosity to family, friends, neighbors, and community. Jim's life was well lived, and an example to his family, friends, and community. He will be deeply missed. Given the worldwide COVID 19 virus pandemic, the family will have a memorial service at St. Marys Episcopal Church, Edmond, Oklahoma Fall of 2020. In lieu of flowers or memoriam gifts, Edith asks Jim's memory be honored by gifts to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
View Full Obituary ›