Thursday, March 26, 2015
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Rupert, Durham, Marshall & Gren
120 South Woodhams Street
Plainwell, MI 49080
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
VA Medical Center (135)
5500 Armstrong Road
Battle Creek, MI 49037
On memo line write: Dementia Unit
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Raymond was born on April 6, 1932 in Grand Rapids Michigan. He was the third born of five children. As a boy, Ray was involved with Boy Scouts, as most boys his age were. He was also fascinated with earning money and ran his own paper route at a young age. In his teen years he worked as a mechanic and helped on his uncle’s farm. For a brief time he also ran a window washing business. He enjoyed motorcycles and, once as a young man, rode his bike, down steps, and right into his favorite bar just for fun. He was a boxer with golden gloves, but that didn’t last long as he wore glasses that made it difficult to see in the ring.
Raymond served four years in the U.S. Air Force and served as a Senior Aircraft Electrician. During his term, he was stationed at Foster AFB in Texas and Williams AFB in Arizona. When discharged in June of 1954, he had achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was formally asked to re-enlist due to his excellent quality of service and the need for his training and expertise. Ray decided it was time to move on though.
After his Air Force days, Ray traveled to Texas where he worked on a dredging barge for a few months. He reported that being a lonely time so he returned to Grand Rapids and was quickly hired by General Motors. As a skilled trade’s employee he was constantly tinkering with things and earned the nickname of Tinkerbell. After 38 years of service to the auto-maker, Ray retired from the Kalamazoo Metal Stamping plant in 1992.
On June 20, 1955, Raymond took Therese Schumaker’s hand into marriage. This June would have marked their 60th anniversary. Ray was step-father to Mitchell and Donald Niewiadomski and father to Raymond, Debbra, and Sherrie. Ray’s offspring provided him with over 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren and at any given family gathering he would often ask “Who are you?” Everyone laughed and kindly gave their name, rank and family standing.
In 1966, Ray and Therese purchased lakefront property in Orangeville Township and it quickly became referred to as just “The Lake.” The lake has served as a gathering spot for nearly 40 years and has provided endless fun and memories for four generations of family and friends. Originally situated with only a one bedroom trailer, Ray decided to build something bigger. Being a thrifty man, Ray asked the county if he could tear down an old, deserted, nearby house and haul it away. After approval, the demolition pursued and the kids were all assigned tasks…endless nail pulling being one that is still talked about till this day. One of his proudest achievements was the family building of this home complete with free windows, doors, and lots and lots of lumber.
Ray loved his children and was devoted to providing them a variety of life experiences, the freedom to make mistakes and to discover their own path. He instilled in them a strong work ethic, and never tried to tell them what to do. He believed in minding his own business, but was always there with an encouraging word when needed.
In his later years, Ray took up downhill skiing and country dancing. He had a seasonal pass for Bittersweet Ski Resort and was a regular spinner at the Bresa Del Rio in Otsego. At the Bresa he had a reserved chair, with his name stylishly marked on Duct Tape. As a member of the local ski club Ray ventured out West to ski places like Breckenridge, Lake Tahoe, Jackson Hole, and Steamboat and was often accompanied by his son Ray Jr.
Ray loved country music, western movies, Two and a half Men, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, studying and investing in the stock market, two for one coupons and sammiches.
He hated yard work and charred meat, but loved his TV remote and drinking out of straws.
One of his favorite sayings was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “But if it is broke, fix it with Duct Tape.” When Deb asked him for his best advice on life he told her, “Have fun, then go have some more fun.” As Ray lived his own advice it could not help but rub off on all that were near.
Once he became home bound he proudly repeated, “I’ve had a good run.” We would all have to agree. As a husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend, he will be dearly missed and forever live in the hearts and memories of all he loved and befriended.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Battle Creek Veterans Hospital Dementia Unit.
Donations can be mailed directly or a check can be left at the funeral home.
VA Medical Center (135): 5500 Armstrong Road, Battle Creek, MI 49037. On memo line write: Dementia Unit