Rayburn S. “Ray” Dezember, a prominent banker active in Bakersfield business and local philanthropy, died March 14 from cancer. He was 85. Katie Werdel writes about her dad and what she has missed most without him this year.

It has been a year of getting used to a new normal. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad or wish that he was here. It is becoming a year of “misses.”

I miss seeing him sit in his red chair, reading the paper, cutting out articles he wanted to send to someone to encourage them or celebrate them. I miss him sitting around the kitchen table with us, laughing and reminding everyone how great they are.

At times in my life when I would complain to him or think something was not fair, he would remind me of the “opportunities” that were presented to me. Not what I was always wanting to hear, but I miss him pointing them out.

I miss watching him share jelly beans with my son, Cooper, because there were always some on his desk. I miss the yearly grandchildren’s trip to the Emporium to get all the cowboy gear they needed for Rankin Ranch.

I miss getting his advice, because he truly gave the best.

I miss him yelling at the TV during a football game (a trait that he has passed down to a few in our family)!

My son, Cooper, is 7, and unlike his older cousins he won’t have the joy of growing up with my Dad, his Papa. You see, his grandchildren were his pride and joy and everything they did, as he would say, “was just terrific!”

If you ever crossed paths with my dad, he always had a smile, a happy greeting and wanted to know about you and how things were going. He never wanted to be the center of attention. In fact, he was very quiet at home.

My parents were a close unit, because in my dad’s eyes, there was never a Ray without Joanie; he thought she hung the moon. Together, they had words of wisdom they always shared with their children and grandchildren. In fact, they are painted on the wall of the upstairs room in their house. These are the things that I try to remind myself to share with Cooper, to remind him of his Papa and the infinite possibilities this world has for him.

Laugh a lot, Make good choices, Trust in the Lord in whatever you do, In everything give thanks, Be a good cheerleader, Think of Others, Enjoy your ride!, The best way to lead is by good example, A great leader has the heart of a servant, Try to be humble, Love each other, Be generous, Be safe, Don’t spend the principal, Have a lot of fun!

My Dad believed that nothing in his life was possible without God and hard work. He was always thinking about how he and my mom could do more, give more. Positivity coursed through his veins; it was infectious, really.

My dad firmly believed that living in Bakersfield was “just another day in paradise.” He loved this city and more importantly he loved the people in it.

He was the best example of wherever you are planted; Bloom. He simply was the BEST cheerleader and I miss him dearly.

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