Raymond “Ray” E. Vitko Sr.

Raymond “Ray” E. Vitko Sr., age 85, of Albia, IA, passed away on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at Oakwood Specialty Care in Albia, surrounded by his loved ones, under the care of Care Initiatives Hospice.

Ray was born on April 29, 1937, in Albia, IA, to John F. and Mary Agnes (Stofko) Vitko.  He grew up attending school in Albia, graduating from the Albia High School with the class of 1956.  Ray then served his country in the United States Army, stationed in the Philippines from 1960-1962.  On March 2, 1964, he married Jane Fleener and was blessed with 2 daughters, Sandi and Deb before the birth of their son, Ray Jr.  Ray and Jane later divorced.  

Ray was a lifelong mechanic.  Upon returning from the service, he worked at Phillips 66 and Duea Chevrolet in Albia.  In 1980, he purchased and began operating Vitko’s DX in Albia, which later became Sunoco and lastly, Sinclair.  Ray owned and operated the gas station for 37 years before retiring in 2017.

 Ray was a lifelong member of the Eagles, the Knights of Columbus, and the American Legion in Albia.  Along with his mechanical talent, he had a passion for older vehicles, especially his Model A, which he enjoyed entering and driving in parades, and Chevy trucks.  Ray enjoyed visiting with others and having a beer with friends.  He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.  He was a proud father, grandfather, and great grandfather and enjoyed following his grandchildren’s and great grandchildren’s events.  

Ray is survived by a son, Ray (Lori) Vitko Jr. and a daughter, Deb (Jimmy) Ballalatak, both of Albia; 7 grandchildren, Ryan (Amelia) Dunham of Ottumwa, Kristin (Ryan) Kirk of Pella, Sammy Jo (Dustin) Albert of Albia, Andrea Ballalatak of Maxwell, Tyler (Kimber) Vitko of Sioux Falls, SD, Tanner (Bethany) Vitko of Lincoln, NE, and Kaitlyn (TeJay) Meredith of Albia; 12 great grandchildren, Jenna, Anthony, Capri, Lux, Vale, Aubree, Holden, Brinley, Rylee, Raegan, Jaxsen, and Axl; a sister, Janet Vitko of Rowlett, TX; and 2 sisters-in-law, Ruth Ann Vitko of Ottumwa and Lea Weldon of Iowa City.  Ray is also survived by several nieces, nephews, cousins and good friends.  

Ray was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Agnes Vitko; a daughter, Sandi Dunham; and 3 brothers, James John, Robert, and Andrew Vitko.  

 Visitation was held from 2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 10, 2023, at the Tharp Funeral Home in Albia, with Ray’s family present from 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. to greet family and friends.  

Funeral services was held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 11, 2023, at the Tharp Funeral Home in Albia with Pastor Richard Grimes officiating and military honors provided by the American Legion of Albia, Lovilia, and Melrose.  A private family burial will be held at. St. Mary’s Cemetery in Albia at a later date.

An open memorial has been established to be used for scholarships for Auto Mechanics students.    

Condolences and memories to the family may be left online at www.tharpfh.com.

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