Raymond & Perrine Messina Begley and Frederick & Loretta Williams Robison
In Memory of Our Parents
John and Kay Begley and Martin (Camille) Begley wanted to honor their parents in a very special way. Because of their immense gratitude for the love and support their parents provided, they decided to create the Raymond & Perrine Messina Begley and Frederick & Loretta Williams Robison Fund to honor their parents’ legacy. Their profound gratitude for the loving and nurturing care their parents provided propelled them to feel indebted to share their story with future generations.
Ray and Perrine were the children of first and second generation immigrants from Germany and Sicily that built on the opportunities provided by their parents and grandparents to create a home for their children that afforded them, John and Martin, a solid grounding in values, ethics and opportunities to lead successful, fulfilling lives. Ray served in Assam while in the Army in World War II , and when returning married Perrine Messina, the daughter of Percy and Melvin Messina. Perrine graduated from the University of Akron, later attended the Columbia University Teachers College summer intensive program in New York, and then taught elementary school in Ohio before marrying.
In 1952, they moved to Salem from Akron, to work with Ray’s father, John W. Begley, who was assigned to open and manage a factory for the Ric-Wil Corporation, an insulated pipe manufacturer and a subsidiary of Armco. When company plans changed, and the senior Begleys decided to return to the Akron area. Ray and Perrine, along with his sister Annamary, and her spouse Earle Udell, who had also moved from Cleveland to work for Ric-Wil, chose to maintain their home in Salem. Soon after Ray went to work for Goodrich, another Akron area firm that purchased the plant to manufacture gaskets for the nearby growing GE Appliance Park factory.
They became active members of the Salem First Baptist church, serving as deacons and Sunday School teachers. A few years after the birth of Martin, Perrine began teaching again at the Salem Elementary School where she remained until her death in 1973, teaching initially 3rd Grade and then 1st, where she also mentored numerous student teachers. Ray retired at 62 from Goodrich, having been one of the longest tenured employees at the plant, since he was one of the first hires when the company moved to Salem. Moving to Louisville, and marrying Eula Mae Merriam, he passed away at age 73 in 1991.
They were fundamental examples of the post WWII American middle class. Hardworking, thrifty, community-oriented citizens who made exemplary lives raising their children, participating in community life and quietly making Salem a better place to live and work.
Frederick and Loretta, in many ways quite different from Ray and Perrine, were multi-generational Washington Countians, having families in the New Salem, New Philadelphia and Canton areas of the county since its settlement. Yet in other ways, essentially similar, Frederick also served as a medic in the Army in the Philippines. Salem High School sweethearts, they married in 1944, while Frederick was on leave, and shortly before he deployed overseas, making their early married life fraught. But on return in 1946, Frederick took up farming, attending Purdue agricultural short courses for veterans, and farming near Loretta’s parents.
In 1952 they re-located, from the eastern side of the county to the west side near Livonia, where he became manager for McCullough Farm, a 1000-acre corn and livestock operation purchased by his cousin, Dr. J.Y. McCullough of New Albany. He built the farm into a model pure-bred cattle operation, raising and selling Polled Hereford breeding stock to farmers and ranchers throughout the Midwest and Midsouth region. They also became members and leaders in the Livonia Presbyterian Church, one of Indiana’s oldest congregations, serving as Elders and Presbytery Session leaders for almost 50 years. Frederick and Loretta were also members of the Washington County Farmers Club, a long-time group of progressive farmers who met monthly to talk, learn and lead about agricultural and community improvement issues. After their daughter, Kay, had become school age, Loretta resumed working, joining the Salem Leader Publishing Co. as well as being active in local sororities and the D.A.R. Frederick also enjoyed serving as Chairman of the Washington County Fair Board in the early 70’s and as a Trustee of the Beech Grove Cemetery. After his retirement from McCullough Farm, he became as crop insurance assessor, putting to use his knowledge and experience to aid other farmers suffering weather disasters. After Frederick’s death in 2000, after almost 56 years of marriage, Loretta married Robert Johnson, a Wildcat elementary school chum, and then outliving him passed away in 2019 at nearly 95 years of age.
Again, their example of how to build a life sustained with faith, Christian values and belief in family and community is paradigm for how life should be lived. They blessed all those they lived worked and worshipped with, and Salem and Washington County is a much better place for them having been here.
Our gratitude for the luck of having been their children, and our appreciation for their hard work, diligence and loving kindness in nurturing and educating us makes us eternally thankful.
We believe that a memorial gift for them is an appropriate way to honor and carry on their shared and collective life’s work.
John and Kay Robison Begley