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Life Story / Obituary
Ever dedicated and hardworking, Ray Vliek was a man devoted to his faith, family and community. He experienced much through his lifetime, and served his country with honor. Farming was in Ray’s blood, and with his family by his side, he farmed his whole life through. Deeply missed, gone but never to be forgotten are the treasured memories he leaves behind.
The Roaring Twenties ushered in an entirely new way of thinking in the U.S. By 1921, jazz was all the rage while Charlie Chaplin starred on the big screen. Prosperity and good fortune created a sense of exhilaration never before seen. Baseball was the favorite sport of all, and the founding of the Chrysler Corporation brought the auto industry to new levels. Yet in the close knit Michigan community of Decatur, there was nothing more important to Lubert and Reka Vliek than the blessed birth of their son, Raymond M. Vliek on September 24, 1921.
They youngest of nine children in his family, Raymond was raised on his family’s celery farm in Decatur. His father also ran a gas station, while his mother looked after young Raymond and their bustling household. Everyone in their household pitched in on the family farm, and from his earliest years, Raymond was no stranger to hard work. He attended the local schools, and as the struggles of the Great Depression infiltrated the U.S., it created years of hardship, and Raymond’s family was no exception. Even so, he went on to graduate from Decatur High School with the Class of 1939.
Ray went on to serve in the United States Air Force during World War II. He traveled far and experienced much throughout this time, and returned home to Michigan upon his honorable discharge. Ray then met the girl of his dreams. While filling in at his sister’s restaurant, a young woman by the name of Marjorie came in, and quickly stole his heart. The feeling was mutual, and Ray even slipped her an extra scoop of ice cream. They went out that very evening which was only the beginning of many more special times together.
On July 30, 1948, Ray and Marjorie were joined in marriage in South Bend, Indiana. They made their first home together in Decatur, and five years later moved to Vicksburg, Marjorie’s home town. With a son of their own, Butch added much to their lives. Ray worked hard to support his family, and together they enjoyed many years creating wonderful memories. Ray lived by example, and taught his son well. In Ray’s heart, there was nothing more important than his faith, and the family he loved and adored.
Ray was very loyal to the community he loved, as well. A well respected gentleman, Ray had a heart for his community and became quite involved. He was active in civil service, served as the township supervisor of Pavilion for ten years from 1970 to 1980, and earned his level three assessor’s certificate. For eight years he served on the Vicksburg Village Council. Ray was an intelligent man of integrity who shared his time and talents with his community all while continuing to farm the land that naturally ran through his blood, and in his heart.
During his youth, baseball was all the rage, and Ray continued to love the sport. He was an avid Detroit Tigers fan, and of Michigan State University teams. He also kept up to date on local Decatur sports. In his younger years, he and his son Butch coached little league together. He was also a 4-H leader. He liked to golf, and did some hunting for a time, but never ventured too far from the farm for very long. In his free time, Ray liked woodworking, and was a voracious reader. When his grandchildren were young, he’d even ask them to bring their text books to him. Ray would read and study the texts before testing them on it. Ray also liked taking in long country rides. He drove around quite a bit, but his favorite places to go included his grandson’s sporting events and his granddaughter’s horse shows. Ray liked to cook. Although he sometimes made out-of-the-ordinary concoctions, and usually with a pasta base, he always liked whatever he made.
When Ray’s beloved Margie passed away in 2014, it was a trying time for him, but with the love and support of family and friends, Ray continued on. He remained active, and always quipped how the Vliek boys came to live a long time. Ray was passionate about his beliefs. With quiet faith, he knew where his help came from in life. It was a joy to share Ray’s company. He possessed a great sense of humor, and delighted those around him. A true gentleman with a sweet, respectful demeanor, Ray was a friend of many, and a stranger to none, but his greatest source of pride was found in his family. Although deeply missed, Ray will be fondly remembered by those who knew and loved him.
Raymond M. Vliek, of Vicksburg passed away on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at the age of 93. He is survived by his son: Butch Vliek of Vicksburg; two grandchildren: Danielle (Nate) Miersma of Vicksburg, and Ross Vliek of Kalamazoo; three great-grandchildren: Madelyn, McKenna and Mark. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie in 2014.
Ray’s family will receive friends on Friday from 10-11 AM at Vicksburg United Methodist Church where his funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM. Burial will be at the Boughton Cemetery. Please visit Ray’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can sign his online guestbook, and share a favorite memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make contributions to Vicksburg United Methodist Church.