Obituary: Ray Thompson, 98, of Free Soil

July 8, 2022

Ray Thompson

Obituary: Ray Thompson, 98, of Free Soil
September 28, 1923 – July 5, 2022
Ray Louis Thompson, 98, passed away peacefully at his home in Free Soil.

Ray was born in Free Soil on September 28, 1923, the son of William and Lillie Thompson. He graduated from Scottville High School in 1941. He served his country in World War II in the Philippines from 1944 to 1946 and was awarded the Purple Heart. After the war, he started his own trucking company called Beyer and Thompson with his friend Walt Beyer. In 1968, he started work at Joslin Manufacturing in Manistee and remained there until retiring in 1985. For years, he was a substitute rural mail carrier out of the Free Soil Post Office. After 32 years of delivering mail, he finally made his retirement complete in 1994.

During the late 40s early 50s, he had a band with his two brothers, Charles and Ted. He followed it up with a band consisting of Dave Zatarga, Dave Kaminski and Tony Raskey. He retired from steady playing in 1973, but continued to play for his and other people’s enjoyment. He was inducted into the Michigan Polka Hall of Fame in 2013 in Owosso. He also played softball in Mason County for several years and was inducted into the Mason County Softball Hall of Fame in 1993. During a band engagement at the old Gunn Lake Hotel near Free Soil, he met Victoria Knizacky. Their courtship lasted several years and resulted in marriage in June of 1959. They recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

Surviving are his wife Vicki; his children Terry Thompson of Ludington, Sharon Amsterburg of Grand Rapids, Bonnie (Randy) Zuchowski of Manistee, Greg Thompson of Grand Rapids; his grandchildren, Tabitha (Jeremy) Czarnecki, Korina (Rob) Thompson, Christopher Thompson and Jeremy Thompson; three great-grandchildren; his brother Ted Thompson of Williamston; and several nieces and nephews.

Ray was preceded in death by his brothers, Russel and Charles Thompson.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, July 12, 2022 at 11 a.m. at Saint John Cantius Catholic Church in Free Soil with Reverend Dennis O’Donnell celebrant. Following Mass, military honors will be presented by the members of the Manistee County United Veterans Council Ritual Team. Final interment will be at Maple Grove Cemetery in Free Soil.

The family will receive friends at the funeral home, on Monday, July 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. where relatives, friends and the members of the St. John Cantius Rosary Society will pray the rosary at 7:30 p.m.

The Herbert Funeral Home of Manistee is in charge of funeral arrangements.

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