Ray Godfrey was born in Sioux Falls, SD on July 31, 1915 to Raymond and Jesse Godfrey. In 1916 Ray and Jesse packed up their four horses, one cow, 24 chickens, two wagons, one plow, one disc, one mower and one hayrake and headed west to Haydraw, S.D. Jesse started a small store and ran the post office in Haydraw. In April of 1920 Raymond died. Jesse married Bill Kiehn in June of 1923. In 1927 Bill died in a horse accident. Jesse struggled to make ends meet with her young children. The depression and drought of the 20s and 30s made it so Ray and his siblings had to help out. In 1933 Ray worked shoveling gravel on wagons by hand. He made 50 cents per hour.
In 1936 Ray married Gladys Anderson. Their first son Jerry was born later that year. Ray worked for the Pennington County Highway Department doing road construction for $4 per day. In March of 1939 Ray was laid off from his job. He borrowed $200 and started his own service station in New Underwood, S.D. Ray ran his service station until he moved his family to Rapid City. Through the 1940s Ray worked on ranches milking cows. In 1942 Ray and Gladys had their second son, Robert. In 1945 Ray began working at Hills Brake. He stayed there until 1949 and went to Diamond T Trucks. In July of 1953, Ray and Gladys had their third son, Dan.
On July 15, 1955 Ray, with the help of investors, opened Godfrey Brake Service. In 1956 Ray hired two men and added new merchandise to sell. By 1959 Ray had employed 3 mechanics 1 parts salesman and a full time bookkeeper. Godfrey Brake was growing and in 1960 a building for office and storage was going up. In 1969 business was good and Ray bought a little farm south of Rapid City, where he lived until he died. In June of 1972 the flood devastated Rapid City. Godfrey Brake Service was in its direct path. Ray and his faithful employees picked up the pieces and pushed forward. Ray bought land on Poplar Ave and began building a new shop. Thanksgiving of 1975 Godfrey Brake Service moved to 110 Poplar Ave, where it is still located to this day.
In the late 70s Ray took an interest in an up and coming hobby, pulling draft horses. Over the next two decades Ray would add many draft horses to his collection. Ray, his boys along with his grandchildren traveled to horse pulls all around the mid-west. Ray took an invested interest in the local fair and 4-H program. He was on the fair board and a loyal bidder at the 4-H sale every fall. Ray didn’t just purchase beef for himself, he also provided his employees with 4-H beef every year, which is a tradition that his sons still practice today at Godfrey Brake Service.
Ray died in 2005.
Ray had three passions in his life. First, his wife, sons and grandchildren. Second, his business and every employee that ever worked for him. Third, his many teams of draft horses. Ray put all of his time and energy into the things that were the most important to him and it showed by all he accomplished. Those who were closest to Ray will tell you that he was one of the most loving and generous people they’d ever met. Throughout the years Ray and Godfrey Brake Service gave generously to the youth in the Black Hills area through both 4-H and kids’ sports.
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A pasture or lot with plenty of grass or bedding and windbreak is important when calving in the cold.