Raymond D. Balsavich, 93, of Hayward, passed into eternal life peacefully surrounded by his family on November 8, 2020.
Raymond was born in Chicago in 1927. At 17 as he was finishing high school, he signed up with the U.S. Navy to go to war, like many friends in that great generation. He served in World War II in the Pacific Theater as storekeeper afloat and on the islands. After the war he was rotated home and served in the ready reserve for several years.
At 23 he met the love of his life, Haleen Lohrman, and they married in 1950. They raised seven children. In 1963 they moved the family to Ladysmith to get away from the city and to raise their large family and to be close to his parents, who in 1961 purchased a small resort, Evergreen Resort on Lake Hayward, next to Historyland. After their last daughter graduated from high school, Ray and Haleen moved to Hayward and took over the family resort to ease the load on his aging parents.
It wasn’t easy to raise a large family in those times. They cut corners wherever they could, and Ray worked many jobs (sometimes two-at-a-time) to support his family. He partnered in a service station and sold used cars. He worked at the Ford Motors jet engine plant as a quality control engineer. He worked landscaping, did a stint as a florist, and performed some aerial spraying. He sold and serviced Prudential Insurance in Chicago and Ladysmith. He worked quality control for Presto in Eau Claire, commuting 130 miles each day for seven years from Ladysmith. In Hayward he sold insurance, sold boats, worked as a custodian at the Hayward Schools, and retired as custodian at the Sawyer County Courthouse, all while running the resort.
Those who knew Ray knew that this man was an absolutely one-of-a-kind, amazing, humble and kind human being, with the most caring words of grace. Raymond is lovingly remembered as a devoted Christian man with all the right values in life, including faith, family, fishing and cards. Ray always gave so much in community service and worked hard in over 50 organizations and causes. He’s been a Cubmaster, prayer group leader, church youth teacher, mentor and organizer. He and Haleen took in several foreign exchange students and raised them as their own. In Hayward he organized the parish home visitation for the sick and homebound, making sure folks were seen weekly. He enjoyed fishing, dancing, playing cards, singing, old movies, writing and “putzing” in the garage. Most of all, spending time with family was his everything. He prayed intercessory prayers for all his family, friends and community daily.
At 82 he published his first of two books titled “Ray’s Journal,” sharing his thoughts, insights and anecdotes based on his life, and wisdom. As he wrote in this book, “We can’t replace things from the past, but we can cherish them.” He followed this up with a second book, “Around the World with Ray and Haleen,” which included stories and anecdotes about an round-the-world adventure that he and Haleen embarked on in 1979.
Raymond was preceded in death by his parents, Dominick and Marie Balsavich; brother, Donald Balsavich; sister, Geraldine VanDyck; and his loving wife of 52 years, Haleen J. Balsavich.
Raymond will always be treasured by his seven children, Wayne Balsavich of Hayward, Ted (Debbie) Balsavich of Osceola, Glen (Missy) Balsavich of Park Falls, Brent (Anne) Balsavich of Park Falls, Lynn (Dave) Sommerfeldt of Winneconne, Wisconsin, Scot (Margie) Balsavich of Rice Lake, Gail (Greg) Salem of Wadsworth, Ohio, and, of course, his beloved “adopted” daughter Fumiko Iwamoto of Japan. Raymond was blessed with 21 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren that he would claim were each special and professed that that he did not have a favorite. He would say, “You’re all my favorite.” Ray had countless friends from Chicago, Ladysmith, Hayward and many places around the globe that he referred to as “family.”
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was held at noon Monday, Nov. 16, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hayward, followed by interment at Greenwood Cemetery. Music was provided by the family choir and accompanist Kathy Naylor. Military Honors were provided by AmVets Post 1998 and his grandsons Jacob Sommerfeldt, U.S. Army Veteran, and Steven Balsavich, U.S. Navy Active.
In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations in Ray’s name to
Northwoods New Life Resource Center, P.O. Box 13020, Hayward, WI 54843 (online giving can be done at nwnewlife.org).
The Memorial Mass was live streamed on Facebook on the Ray Balsavich Life Celebration page beginning at noon, Monday, Nov. 16.
Online condolences may be shared at pineviewfuneralservice.com.