Through his work both in broadcasting and the farming industry, Russ Ragan became a popular man here in the wiregrass, who made many friends. And even though the thought of having to say goodbye is tough to deal with, his friends are choosing to remember Ragan for the happiness and joy he brought to their lives.
At 5 PM Thursday, radio hosts with Magic Broadcasting in Dothan began dedicating all of their on-air shows and commentary to a man they all knew very well; Russ Ragan.
"I've known Russ since grade school and consequently we went to high school together and spent a lot of time at radio stations together," said David Gilligan, the production director for Magic Broadcasting.
Like many people across the Wiregrass when Gilligan learned that his co-worker and dear friend Russ died in plane crash, he was shocked. But reality eventually sunk in for Gilligan, who worked with Ragan on the radio, when he did is early morning agricultural reports.
"Farmers around the community would tune in specifically to listen to Russ Ragan. And he would let them know the forecast, and the price of cattle and the price of vegetables or whatever was on the market at the time," said Gilligan.
Ragan's career in broadcasting began where his father's left off. Decades ago, Gene Ragan reported on agricultural issues for WTVY News 4, and garnered a rather large viewing audience as farmers came to trust his knowledge of the industry. That love for agriculture was passed down to Russ, who also demanded the respect of the Wiregrass farming community.
"Getting the news out on how crops were and conditions... and what we were seeing out in the fields. It was very beneficial information to growers and other people in the industry," said Kris Balkcom, a friend of Ragan's.
Another friend of Ragan’s, Larry Wells said, "It's a hard loss for all of us personally and a hard loss for the farming community."
The death of Ragan, while mysterious, will continue to affect many people in the Wiregrass for some time to come. But despite the loss, those closest to him will always remember Ragan as a fun loving man, who loved life, loved God, and loved his community.