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Family remembers Ray and Denise Bina, killed in Saturday’s I-135 crash

Published: Jul. 18, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Driving southbound on 135 just past Newton on Saturday, 71-year-old Ray Bina and his wife of over 40 years, Denise, were killed in a crash when their car left the road and struck a semi.

Ray Bina’s cousin Ron Jirak remembers when he got the phone call.

“I think when you hear something like that, it’s very surreal and as the times went on, it’s been rougher today. We saw each other almost on a daily basis and worked together all day,” he said.

For over 20 years Bina worked with his cousin Ron Jirak at Jirak Brothers Produce. Ron said without Ray and his wife Denise, the farm will be very different.

“We did a lot of things growing up together and as my business grew, Ray came to help me more and more and he never lost his passion for farming,” said Jirak. “And I think that’s where he and I probably got connected. He loved the farm. And we didn’t plan it, it just ended up that way.”

With his cousin gone, Jirak said he’ll have to re-evaluate the family business moving forward.

“I don’t even know how to run some of my own machinery,” said Jirak. “Ray ran it all the time and I’ve had machinery some 10 or 12 years old that I’ve never ran. So, after we give him a proper burial, I’m going to have to re-examine what I’m doing and how I do it and at what size I’ll continue.”

The Binas were very active in their church and Jirak said their faith was a central part of their lives.

“Ray was the more quiet one, Denise was the one more out front, more outspoken,” said Jirak. “But Ray was always behind her, always supported her.”

Jirak said Ray was more of a brother than a cousin, he’ll miss seeing that contagious smile every day on the farm.

“He came and planted soybeans for me. He was planting all day and it was about 9:30 and I called him up on my cellphone, I said, ‘Ray why don’t you quit, we’ll finish tomorrow.’ And he said, ‘No, I’ve only got a couple more hours. I think I’ll finish.’ and he would come even on his days off and he would check the crops and see how they were doing,” said Jirak.

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