James Ravenell

Obituary of James Alexander Ravenell

James (Baby/Reb) A. Ravenell was born to the late Idell and John Ravenell on February 11, 1927 in Charleston, SC. Though his wife gave him the nickname Reb, he is affectionately known as Uncle Baby. This name Baby, was given to him by his siblings since he took forever to walk. After his father died, around age 7, he was blessed by God to preach the gospel. He traveled throughout the South with elder ministers preaching in churches and on the radio. His youth was spent playing sports, fishing, selling fish and cooking in Charleston. A local master chef took him under his wing and taught him to become a gourmet cook. His crabs, oysters, lobster and roasts became the talk of his Roosevelt neighborhood. In 1940's he and all of his five brothers were drafted into World War II. He was only 17 when he had to leave high school early. It was tough leaving his Mom and Lil Sis whom he adored, behind. Reb served in Europe in the segregated Army as a Medic. Upon discharge he returned to finish high school and graduate. Thereafter he became a career military guy joining the Army Air Corp which later turned into the the Air Force. On October 9, 1954 he married his coworker Carrie Marshall and they had Brenda and Daneen. The military would take him from Camp Legune to bases in 8 countries and 5 states with stops in Brooklyn between each assignment. After 20 years, he retired into civil service in 1969 moving from Plattsburgh to Roosevelt, NY where he finally got that son, Derek and resided there for 50 years. During the early years Reb played basketball and excelled at martial arts and ping pong, those skills honed in Japan and the Philippines. Gambling was his thing - the slots, bingo and cards! They used to have those all night pinochle and bid whist parties running Bostons, sticking that winning card to his forehead. He taught his daughters every card game imaginable. By the time they were teens they would hang with the adults and enjoy quite a run. Reb was a family man always playing board games and sports, going to movies and watching the Knicks, Steelers and the Mets. He instilled that passion for sports and games into his children. When his daughters ran track their parents not only attended every meet but also formed a Parents Club to assist with buying uniforms and paying expenses. Reb and Carrie would organize raffles and sell food to help. The Ravenell house was a big hangout for Derek's friends. With Derek it was going to all the movies, basketball, football and baseball games and track too with a car full of boys. Summer vacations were trips to DC, Maryland, Brooklyn and Charleston to visit family. Reb loved his family. He gave up smoking after his grandson Kellen battled asthma. He gave up drinking as well to promote peace in the family. This selfless man worked hard to ensure that his family always had what they needed and never focused on himself. Reb was an easygoing soul that had a calm about him. His smile and compassion would light up your heart. He had experienced and seen so much intolerance in his lifetime but befriended everyone regardless of color or riskiness. He couldn't remember your name though, everyone was either Champ or Boss. In his old age he would see his health falter with emphysema and arthritis, eventually losing his ability to walk. But he never lost his infectious smile or his kindness to others. The Lord called him home after 93 years of living and 65 years of marriage, where he peacefully transitioned...in his sleep. He is survived by his wife Carrie, children Brenda Ravenell, and Daneen Cooper, son-in-law Maurice Cooper, grandchildren Kellen Cooper, Elana Cooper, and Adebunmi Gbadebo, nephews Earnest Hawkins Jr., Eric (Bridgett) Hawkins, Saul Ravenell. Kenneth Ravenell, Tyrone Ravenell. Nieces Sarah Ravenell, Theda Crutchfield, Veronica Ravenell, Debbie Fickling, Samantha Ravenell, Reba Hawkins and a host of second nieces and nephews and dear friends. He was predeceased by his son Derek, his sister Rebecca/Lil Sister (Earnest) Hawkins and brothers Frank, Joseph, Saul (Carrie) John/Tat and Thomas/William (Lillie Mae)
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Saturday
14
March

Viewing

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Bethel AME Church
420 N. Main Street
Freeport, New York, United States
Saturday
14
March

Homegoing Celebration

11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Bethel AME Church
420 N. Main Street
Freeport, New York, United States
Monday
16
March

Final Resting Place

11:00 am - 11:30 am
Monday, March 16, 2020
Calverton National Cemetery
Calverton Road
Calverton, New York, United States
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