Ray Conger was born on December 15, 1923, to Emil and Mabel Conger in Laurel, Mont. He grew up in Laurel and Dillon, Mont. Ray was an athlete, businessman, Christian and, most importantly to his family, a wonderful father.
Weeks prior to graduating from high school, he went to spring training with the Cincinnati Reds, Ogden, Utah minor league team. He accepted an invitation to play for the Brigham City Peaches; starting what he expected to be a career in professional baseball. When the season ended, he discovered he was not going to be a major league player. He returned home disappointed, but it would soon be better.
He was recruited to play for the Montana State Normal College basketball team (Bulldogs) and soon met his future. Her name was Dorothy Overby and they met at a dance only two days before he was to depart for the Army Air Corps. They courted through the mail during his early time in the service. He returned to her in Plentywood, Mont. December 24, 1944, and they were married December 27, 1944 - one day after meet meeting her folks.
His time in the service included stints in Salt Lake City, Utah, Portland, Ore., Monroe, La., Santa Ana, Calif., Lincoln, Neb., Ardmore, Okla. and Urbana, Ill. He was discharged July 7, 1946, and the young couple moved to Plentywood where he farmed.
It was during this period that he became serious about Jesus Christ and what He had done for all of us. He studied the Bible and particularly the Lutheran theology. Ray was a Lutheran by choice.
The fall of 1958, he began his insurance career working in a general insurance agency in Plentywood. He and the family moved to Missoula, Mont. in 1959 to continue his new career. He began to study for his Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation; which he ultimately received in 1962. The family moved to Coeur d’Alene, Ind. (1960) where he worked for the Fireman’s Fund; moving again to Great Falls, Mont. and was named Fieldman of the Year. In 1966, he moved into the retail agency business as part owner of Larry Larson and Associates in Missoula. He was elected president of LL & A in 1976. In 1981, LL&A was merged into Western States Insurance Agency and he continued as part owner until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1988, following his 65th birthday.
After retirement, he was instrumental in the start-up of Attorneys Liability Protection Society (ALPS) providing underwriting services as the underwriting vice president. He was also part owner of the Service Office of Montana located in Kalispell, Mont. He sold his interest in the Service Office in 2003.
During his career, he worked as a volunteer first in the Montana Underwriters Association, where in 1963 he was awarded Special Agent of the year. He continued his involvement as an agent in the Independent Agents of Montana. He was one of the founders of Montana Insurance Education Foundation and Public Risk Insurance Management. Between 1970 and 1980, Ray served through the chairs of all three associations; culminating each as President.
Ray and Dorothy moved to Detroit Lakes, Minn. to be near their daughter Madalyn, who together with her husband, Paul Sukke, owned an independent insurance agency there. Ray was active in the community supporting a wide variety of causes; but particularly First Lutheran Church, Concordia College and the Lakers wrestling program.
Ray died peacefully on March 25, 2012, in Detroit Lakes at the Emmanuel Nursing home. He was 88 years old.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Conger, daughter Madalyn Sukke, and son Dorian Conger. Five grandchildren: Erik Sukke, Allison Mahlen, Fallon Conger, Lafe Conger and Hayley Conger; and one great-grandchild: Tru Mahlen. He will be missed by all and mourned by many.
Services were held on Friday, March 30, 2012, at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. On-line tributes may be left at www.daviddonehower.com. The David-Donehower Funeral Home is serving the family.