Roland O. "Ray" Rheaume, age 90, passed away on Friday, January 2, 2015, at the Racine Hospice House. Ray was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, on October 2, 1924, son of the late Odilon and Mary Ann Rheaume.
On September 6, 1947, at Santa Maria Addolorata Church in Chicago, IL, he was united in marriage to his beloved Rosalie J. "Ricki" Nuccio.
He graduated from St Veronica's Grade School in 1938 and St. Philip's High School in 1942 in Chicago, IL. In April of l943 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and after boot camp in Coeur d'Alene, ID, successively served thirty-day training periods at the Naval Armories in Chicago, IL, and Michigan City, IN, followed by six months training at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. He was then assigned to the newly commissioned USS Rehoboth (AVP-50), a Barneget Class seaplane tender as Electronic Technician Mate 1/c. In that capacity he was responsible for the maintenance of all shipboard electronics and that of the seaplanes serviced, serving until April 1946. His ports of call included Boston, Norfolk, Rio and Recife, Brazil, Bristol, England, Panama, San Diego, Hawaii, Okinawa, Korea and Japan, and spent New Year's Eve in 1945 going up the Yangtze River in dense fog and blinding snow to Shanghai, China. His ship had left Bristol, England, and was off the Western coast of France on D day, and engaged and sank a German U-boat with depth charges after he successfully repaired the Sonar head in the bottom of the ship. The U.S. Navy sparked his avid interest in electronics.
On returning home to Chicago, he spent two years at Loyola University in a pre-Engineering curriculum, followed by three years at the University of Detroit in Detroit, MI, graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Subsequent employment included the University of Detroit as an instructor; President of Ferrara, Inc., a design engineering firm in Oak Park, MI; Vice-President of Telecom, Inc., a private telephone switchboard manufacturer in Kansas City.
He then joined Webster Electric when Telecom, Inc., was acquired by Webster Electric. At Webster he worked successively in Telecom product integration as Senior Design Engineer leading to Assistant Chief Engineer in Communications, specializing in the development of tape recorders and sound systems; Chief Engineer in Webster and Sta-Rite heating products; Quality Assurance Manager; Product Safety Coordinator; Director of Quality Assurance; Service Department Manager; and Operating Manager for a plant closing and relocation. Because of his extensive electro-hydraulic experience, he became the Engineering Investigator from 1972 to retirement in December 1989 for all product liability claims against Webster Electric and its six subsidiary operations, also appearing as expert witness in many trials all over the country. As a post-retirement consultant, investigative work continued to July 2001.
Ray was a very active member of St. Mary's Parish, now Cristo Rey, until it closed, serving on the Parish Council and as lector and song leader. With the closure of St. Mary's he became a member of St. Patrick's. He has been a strong supporter and Choir member at the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass, and served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister. For many years he was very active in the Cursillo movement, serving as a team member and rector.
He deeply enjoyed family gatherings and the many trips to Colorado with family and friends for camping and mountain hiking, always hoping for one more opportunity, and delighted in his grandchildren. For many years he enjoyed riding a motorcycle, and in his younger years was an avid roller skater. He enjoyed fixing just about anything electrical or mechanical. He was also active in the St Mary's Hospital prostate cancer support group for many years, having had a radical prostatectomy in 1977.
Survivors include his loving wife of 67 years, Ricki; his five children, Antoinette Drier (fiancé, Martin Gierut), and Michael of Racine, Patrick (Jackie) of Alamosa, Colorado, Suzette (Christopher) Magruder of Milwaukee, and Martin of Racine; his eleven grandchildren, Brian and Daniel (Janna) Drier, Carli (Kenny) Rodrigues, Erika (Jose') Jiron, Katie (Martin) Chavez, Adam, Kamala, and Caitlin Rheaume, Christopher Rheaume Woodworth, Matthew (Whitney), and Nathan (Jenna) Magruder; his eight great-grandchildren, Owen and Evan Drier, Anthony Malak, and Taylor, Aiden, Zooey, Harper and Jason Magruder; his sister, Germaine (Melvin) Bost of Lockport, IL; his brother-in- law, James Constantine of Lombard, IL; nieces, nephews, other relatives and dear friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters: Jeanne Power and Jacqueline Constantine; and son-in-law, Thomas Drier.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Friday, January 9, 2015, at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 1100 Erie St., with Rev. Anthony Thomas and Rev. Richard Molter concelebrating. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Friday at church from 9:30 a.m. until time of Mass at 11 a.m. Entombment with Full Military Honors will be held at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery 21731 Spring St., Union Grove, Wl 53182. In lieu of flowers, donations to Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Cancer Center, 3809 Spring St., Racine, Wl 53405 or your favorite charity are suggested.
The family would like to express deep appreciation to all the caregivers who provided such wonderful and compassionate care to our father over the last three months of his life.
MARESH-MEREDITH & ACKLAM FUNERAL HOME
803 Main St., Racine, WI (262) 634-7888