Ramon D. Criss, 82, passed away May 26th, 2017 in El Dorado.
He is preceded in death by his parents, RD and Edith Criss of Augusta; his sister, Sandra Seward; brother, Rodney Dean; step-daughter Molly Mann of El Dorado; and the mother of his children, Karyn Criss. He is survived by wife, Betty; sons Bob (Lisa) of Bolingbrook IL and Mike (Leslie) of Huntsville, AL; daughters Sandy Cooper of Wichita and Susan Criss-Carboy (Robert) of Fairbanks, AK; step-sons Bill Mann (Becky) of Burns, KS and Tom Mann (Sally) of Duncanville, TX; niece Edith Ann Howard of Overland Park, KS and nephew Relle Howard (Fabi) of Dallas, TX; 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
He was a Patriot, a Kansan through and through, and a proud, contributing member of the Butler County and El Dorado communities. Community first! He was an outstanding soldier, citizen and son.
He was an entrepreneur, businessman, and community philanthropist with a long family history in Butler County. Though born in Topeka in May 1935, he was raised in Augusta, KS on the Walnut River and graduated from Augusta High School in 1953. He served in the Kansas National Guard and attended Kansas University. He returned to Augusta to help his father, RD, run Criss Concrete. Believing that, “The best person to work for is yourself…”, he then went on to create his own successful business enterprises including Criss, Inc. and Criss Optical, Inc. in Augusta. With the sale of his optical business, his assuming the helm of Lewis & West, Inc. in El Dorado, and his marriage to Betty in 1980, he established the foundation from which he and Betty sought to develop and enhance the El Dorado and Butler County communities.
He was the first president of El Dorado, Inc., an organization established to attract industry to El Dorado and was instrumental in bringing the El Dorado Correctional Facility to the community. As a result, he was the Kansas Industrial Developers Association Volunteer of the Year in 1989. He and Betty owned and operated Lewis & West, Inc. through 2002 and then transitioned to real estate development.
An avid outdoorsman, he spent countless hours at his farm east of El Dorado. He was forever improving the property to create value and loved creating habitat to sustain wildlife. Knowing how important the outdoors was to young people, he gave many a place to hunt and fish and to experience the outdoors in ways that they may not have been able to do otherwise. He founded the Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt with former Kansas Governor Mike Hayden in 1986.
He lived his life uniquely and always on his own terms. He was, “hard headed and soft hearted” and pursued every facet of his life with commitment, passion, and purpose. He gave generously and was most proud of the contributions he made that nobody ever knew about. “Retirement” was not in his vocabulary. He said he was going to work until the day he died—and that is what he did. He loved the best he knew how and was loved. We will miss him.
Carlson Colonial Funeral Home, El Dorado, KS has charge.
A memorial service will be held at the Butler Community College, 901 S. Haverhill Road, El Dorado, KS in the Cliff Stone room on June 17th, 2017 at 1:30 PM with a reception to follow.
A memorial is to be established at Susan B. Allen Cancer Center, 700 West Central Avenue, 67042, ATTN: Ms. Jamie Richards, (316) 321-8718
Charitable donations may be made to:
Susan B. Allen Cancer Center
720 W. Central, El Dorado KS 67042