Raymond J Szmanda, of Antigo, died Sunday, May 6, 2018, at his home under the care of LeRoyer Hospice and his family. He was 91 years old. He was born on June 22, 1926, in Milwaukee, a son of Charles and Marie (Bauman) Szmanda. He married Maxine Orgeman on August 18, 1950, at St. John Catholic Church in Antigo. She preceded him in death on November 27, 2000.
He was a graduate of Bayview High School in Milwaukee with the class of 1944.
He was a veteran of WWII having served in the United states Navy from June 2, 1944 to June 29, 1946 in the South Pacific.
Following military service he attended Brown Institute in Minneapolis graduating in 1950.
He worked as an insurance broker for Guardian Life, Northwestern Mutual and Prudential life insurance companies.
Mr. Szamanda enjoyed a long career in radio and television broadcasting. Early in his career he worked at radio stations in Calumet, Michigan, Merrill, Antigo, Wausau and Milwuakee. He accomplished a longtime dream in 1970 by founding Transamerican School of Broadcasting in Wausau where he trained local talent for the airwaves. He also hosted the High Quiz Bowl, a high school academic competition.
For many years he was employed as a free lance television announcer in the Midwest, his longest tenure was as spokesman for Menards stores, retiring in 2002.
He was hired to narrate an audio recording of the King James version of the Bible, an accomplishment that gave him great pride.
Music was his passion. Ray played drums and was a vocalist entertaining shipmates in the Navy, and playing in clubs in Milwaukee, Michigan and Wisconsin. More recently he could be found enjoying performances at Music in the Park and the Volm Theatre. He took piano lessons into his late 80's and played on his drum set as recently as a few months ago.
He was a member of the National Association of Broadcasters, the Leland-Tollefson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2653, Antigo, and St. John Catholic Church where he served as a lector for many years.
Survivors include three daughters, Jane Szmanda Zeller and Joe Fittante of Antigo, Mary (Paul) Summ of Appleton, Joan (Tom) Burmeister of Kewaskum; three sons, Charles (Margaret) Szmanda of Boston, MA, Paul (Jeanne) Szmanda of Wausau, Mark (Deborah) Szmanda of Fond du Lac; a daughter-in-law, Susan Szmanda of Wausau; 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In addition to his wife and parents he was preceded in death by a son, Dr. Raymond "Jack" Szmanda, Jr., a sister, Ruth Cinquemani; two brothers, Robert and Charles Szmanda.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. at St John Catholic Church with Rev. Charles Hoffmann officiating. Entombment will take place in Queen of Peace Mausoleum.
Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the Bradley Funeral Home and 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday at the funeral home. A parish wake service will be held at 6:30 p.m. also at the funeral home.
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I will always remember Ray as one of the best Lectors at St. John. He was a great gentleman. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him. he will be remembered in my prayers, along with his whole family. Peace to all!
My condolences to the entire Szmanda family. I only met Ray once and he left great impression with me as he accepted me into Trans American School of Broadcasting in February of 1986. He was honest with me that day and what to expect with entering the broadcasting field. He told me how he was hired as the "Menards Guy" that day. He said it was down to the final 3 to get the job. He went in and dressed up with bib overalls and he used his creativness to get the job. He said the 2 candidates were much more talented. He ended up getting the gig for dressing up as a average joe going into a hardware store. That story I'll never forget! 32 years later, I'm still doing radio. Thank you Ray for starting up Trans American School of Broadcasting.
Katie and Susie and family. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your grandfather/father in law. While I didn't know him personally, I knew all who did loved him. Cherish your memories and all the video you have. Jamie and Luke Lotto and girls
I met Ray’s son Chuck in my college chemistry class almost 40 years ago. I admired Chuck for his kindness, quiet confidence, and beautiful mind. I also met Ray’s grandchildren when I taught at Wausau East High School. They all aimed to emulate their dad/granddad. What a legacy he left. My condolences. Alvie (Starzinski) Lutz
My deepest condolences on Ray's passing. I recall singing for weddings with Paul and Mark, and always think of the Szmanda home as having been filled with fine musicians. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Teresa (Fleischman) Schroepfer
The Szmandas were a great example of what a loving, caring family is all about! As their older (and supposedly more responsible) cousin, I felt guilty getting paid to babysit them, while having so much fun in their company.
It seemed like we only visited on weekends, so Uncle Ray was almost always in his bathrobe. In fact, I was well out of high school before I saw him wearing pants!
Our heartfelt condolences to the Szmanda family.
Tim and Peggy Orgeman
I started my teaching career when Ray hired me to teach journalism at Trans American School of
Broadcasting over 30 years ago. While I enjoyed the Menard's commercials, I really loved the Viewpoint radio show that Ray put out to area stations. It was the exact opposite style of the Menard's spots. I can still hear Ray in his slow, pensive thought provoking delivery...Could it be that mankind has been stumbling around in the dark all these years while God has actually given the light of his Word that we might know the path to follow. And could it be...
Such great sympathy to you all. Such a legacy for you to emulate. Love and prayer during this time of loss. Dr David and Mrs Rita Murdock
I never knew Ray but I wish our paths would have crossed. While 30 years apart in age, so much of our background is similar. I am Catholic, spent 22 years in broadcasting, am a ham radio operator, I did High Quiz Bowl on WKBT in La Crosse while he was doing it in Wausau...
God bless you, Ray! And to his children, family and friends I hope that you will find peace in the many memories you shared together. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
I am a 1978 Graduate of Trans American School of Broadcasting. Went for on-air work but a few weeks before graduation, Ray called me and my teacher, Susan Frommelt into his office and told me "we think that of all the students in this school, you are the only one that would be great in sales"! I thought they were crazy!! But, 40 years later, I'm a successful Sr. Account Executive at WCCO-AM in Minneapolis, having worked in WI, Boston and for the past 20 years, Minneapolis. Ray saw something in my I did not. He was a lovely man. God speed Ray Szmanda! My sincere sympathies to his family! Ginnee Berg, Prior Lake, MN
Ray and Mackie and their 7 children hold a very special place in our hearts for the care of our children,Mike and Jackie.We will forever be thankful ! Bill& Kathy Orgeman.
Of all the things Ray had accomplished in his life, he was most proud of his kids that he and Mackie raised. My sincere thoughts and prayers to the family....Steve Simpson
My deepest condolences to all of Ray's family. He was one of the kindest, most gentle men I ever met, and I know he will be missed deeply. Rest in the arms of your Lord, Ray.
To Jane and to the family of Mr. Szmanda - my sincere condolences. Your father was truly a wonderful person and great man. Jane, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Deb Kluever (Debbie Berner)
I have worked for ray for 15 plus years. He was absolutely the sweetest most generous kind hearted man i ever met. I have so many fond memories. We never ran out of things to talk about. My favorite time was when he was practicing piano and singing. My sincere condolences to his family. Thank you for sharing him with me. I will certainly miss him
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