Sunday, March 8, 2020
2:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
A reception with food and drinks will follow in the Life Story Center.
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.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church
1200 Arnold St
Three Rivers, MI 49093
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
There truly was no one more genuine than Ray Maslanka. He had a certain way with people. Everyone was made to feel special in his presence. Ray modeled a lifetime of being a strong provider to the family he loved. Without a doubt, his family meant the world to him. Lucky to be loved unconditionally by him as a husband, father, and grandfather, he will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
The 1950s were exciting times indeed with the many talents of professional sports figures, musicians, and movie stars such as Mickey Mantle, Elvis Presley, and James Dean. Families still huddled around television sets to catch the latest westerns such as Gunsmoke or anything featuring Lucille Ball. On December 16th in Detroit, Michigan, proud parents, Casimer and Helen (Koziak) Maslanka welcomed home their firstborn baby boy, Raymond. Later joined by his younger siblings, Diane and Fred, his birth brought much joy and happiness to the family home.
Growing up in Detroit, Ray lived a typical childhood of the times. His father worked in the automotive industry, while his mother worked at the local library and city hall. True to the family legacy, they ran a five-acre hobby farm in the country. Ray loved playing on the farm, spending his time catching mud guppies in the creek. He learned the value of a hard day’s work at an early age by helping on the farm, harvesting the vegetables and extracting honey from the 52-beehive apiary. As an adolescent, he enjoyed spending time in the great outdoors fishing or camping. He liked to earn money and had a paper route since he was about 12 years old. When he was 15, he began a part-time job at McDonald’s.
Ray always held a unique interest in music, especially jazz and Blues and had a collection of albums that included Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery and other jazz greats. His stereo system was one of his prized possessions. When he was 16 he landed a job at Ron Henry’s music shop, first working the sales counter, selling reeds and guitar strings and other accessories to musicians, and doing some delivery to local schools for their music programs. Later, he learned to do repairs on a variety of instruments. He really enjoyed music and attended many different concerts when he could, including Led Zeppelin, Fog Hat, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Ray loved hot rods and dreamed of the day he would get his driver’s license. He would come home from his McDonald’s job and go on and on about shifting through the gears of his dream car. From his jobs he saved up money to get his gold Ford Falcon. He spent hours waxing, cleaning and working on the engine of his “baby.” Next, he acquired a mint green Pontiac GTO. It was a bit of a muscle car and he enjoyed some street racing with it. He babied that car as well and drove it proudly.
After high school he went to Henry Ford Community College and studied accounting. He was not wild about schooling himself, but finished 2 years at HFCC that later got him a job working in accounting at Crowley’s Department Store.
Not to be forgotten was meeting Karen, the woman who would steal his heart forever! Both still in high school, they met at a local New Year’s Eve party. She was smitten by his charming smile and his remarkable talent on the dancefloor. They quickly became sweethearts and were inseparable from then on. By the time they were both twenty-one years old, they joined in marriage in the early 1970s. For their honeymoon, they travelled to many places in the U.S. One of their favorite places was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Ray and Karen moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan where they lived for a couple of years after they got married. He continued to work in the accounting field.
When they returned to Detroit, Ray found that his financial prospects were better in the factories of Detroit, so he abandoned any career in accounting. He worked for a short time for Pinkerton Security investigating the employee theft of nickel from a plating factory, which he did solve. He then got a job at General Motors in Three Rivers, Michigan. Ray and Karen bought a new home in Three Rivers and started a family. Together they raised three wonderful children: Scott, Douglas, and Daniel.
Ray’s life was always an adventure. He decided he wanted a more stable job and began training to be a Corrections Officer. It was a new challenge, but Ray enjoyed the work and the benefits that came along with it. Ray taught his sons the importance of providing for his family. He was laidback and truly knew how to enjoy his free time. Whatever his kids were interested in, he learned as quickly as he could including the latest technology and gadgets. Video game wars were a common occurrence in the Maslanka household. Wanting to keep up with the kids, Raymond would practice playing video games while the kids were at school, although it’s debatable if those efforts improved his skills.
A true outdoorsman, Ray was known to take the kids fishing on local lakes. During the bait stop, they’d stock up on Sugar Babies, Fun Dip, and Lemon Heads. Ray had quite the sweet tooth! They would usually catch several fish, take them home, and have them for dinner. Ray also really enjoyed fireworks, some would call him a pyromaniac! He was known to shoot them off all year long. His favorites were Whistling Bottle Rockets, Roman candles, and Jumping Jacks. A man with a good heart, he taught his children to be reliable and genuine. He wanted nothing but the very best for them and instilled in them the importance of saving and investing as well as taking responsibility for themselves.
A man of many hobbies, Ray lived his life to the fullest. He and his lovely bride shared the thrills of traveling. They enjoyed spending time at Silver Lake. Some of the things he enjoyed most were boating, fishing, swimming right off the dunes, driving his Honda Odyssey Dune Buggy, and playing pinball in the arcade. Some of their recent travels included the Smoky Mountains, Cancun, Mexico, Washington D.C., Denver, Colorado, returning to the Garden of the Gods to reminisce the special moments of their honeymoon. They also enjoyed camping at countless state parks over the years, conversing by the warmth of a campfire and making plans for their future.
At home, Ray was known to throw horseshoes in the backyard and shoot pool. Any day at the beach was a favorite! Ray even believed that each person just needed one good sunburn to start the season and never wore any sunscreen! Perhaps no other activity brought him greater solace than enjoying the shores of Lake Michigan. A music fan throughout his life, Ray enjoyed the guitar licks of the famous Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as anything Jazz, blues, or classic rock. When it came to sports, he enjoyed cheering on his hometown team the Detroit Lions as well as the Denver Broncos. Win or lose, he remained a faithful fan!
Originally trained in the National Guard as a cook, Ray was a big foodie. He sincerely enjoyed cooking and eating good food. Some of the dishes he was known for were ribs, steak, and prime rib. He had a great love for hot sauce and explored many different brands before coming to the conclusion that Cholula was the best. Special occasions with family were always centered around some of his favorite restaurants. True to his heritage, Polish foods were among his favorites.
Ray never missed an opportunity to spend time with his family, especially his grandkids. No greater amount of joy came from witnessing their smiles and their never-ending energy. His presence will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He leaves behind a legacy of being a steadfast provider, with a too-the-point attitude, and a heart filled with joy for all those he loved. May his loved ones find comfort in the many special moments he was a part of, and may his memories be eternal.
Raymond R. Maslanka, age 69, of Three Rivers, Michigan, died on March 1, 2020. Ray was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Fred Maslanka. Surviving are his wife of forty-seven wonderful years, Karen; three children: Scott (Amy) Maslanka, Douglas (Janelle) Maslanka, and Daniel Maslanka; three grandchildren: Ryan, Emily, and Forest; and his sister, Diane (Gary) Mansfield. Cremation has taken place. Services will be held at 2 PM on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. A reception with food and drinks will follow in the Life Story Center. Visit Raymond’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Three Rivers.