FORT WAYNE – While serving as Allen County coroner in the 1990s, Dr. Raymond S. Beights would frequently make visits to the scenes of fatal car crashes immediately after they happened.
The then-septuagenarian liked to poke around the scene with the officers already there in order to better understand what had happened, which was something of a rarity for that time and place.
It was unusual for the coroner to make the scene of some of those crashes, said Patt Kite, who worked as an officer with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department at the time.
He had a lot of curiosity about them, continued Kite, who now works as a deputy coroner and is the spokeswoman for the county coroner’s office. He’d crawl around the wreckage and walk with officers doing measurements. He was right there in the thick of it.
Beights, 95, died peacefully Tuesday at home surrounded by his family. He died a day shy of the one-year anniversary of the death of his wife, Jeanne.
Born in Kendallville in 1917, Beights graduated with a master’s degree in education from Indiana University in 1941.
Afterward, he served as a B-24 bomber pilot in World War II, where he flew 12 missions over Europe and received a Purple Heart.
After the war, Beights took up teaching. He ended up in Fort Wayne at Franklin Elementary School and North Side High School, where he was the choral music director until 1955.
Music was a big part of Beights’ life. He directed several choruses in Fort Wayne and served as the organist for Zion Lutheran Church. He was also the organist for famous Embassy Page Organ.
In 1948, when Zion leadership decided to retire church’s organ, Beights was one of two people heavily involved in designing a new instrument, which became the church’s Peace Organ, according to the church’s website.
Beights was also featured playing the organ on the television show Leisure Time, which aired on WKJG-TV.
He entered pre-med School at Indiana University in 1955 and graduated in 1960. In 1961, he opened a family practice in Fort Wayne.
A decade later, Beights and a group of other doctors started the Parkview Emergency Physician’s Group. He retired from there in 1984, but it was by no means the end of his working career.
Beights practiced at Redi-Med from 1983 to 1990 and served as a deputy coroner in the county coroner’s office until 1992, when he was elected coroner.
After a four-year stint as coroner – in which he arrived at many fatal car crashes or various crime scenes – he continued on as a deputy coroner until 1999.
He was such a cool guy, such a sweet man, said Kite, who noted that officers got along with Beights very well.
Beights is survived by six children, 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Services will take place at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 1126 S. Barr St.
Visition will be one hour prior to service and also from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Hockemeyer & Miller Funeral Home, 6131 St. Joe Road.
Memorials may be given to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Organ Fund, Concordia Theological Seminary Music Department or Worship for Shut Ins.