Raymond Olaf Wickstrom, April 1, 1929-August 27, 2020
Ray was one of the eleven children of Olaf Edward and Alma Mari (Hakkinen) Wickstrom. The family moved to a farm in the Cave Hills of South Dakota when he was one year old. Ray had never heard English until he went to the one-room school house where he got in trouble for not speaking it. Like all the small farmers of the area, the family lost out in the depression so they moved to Buffalo, South Dakota where Ray completed high school.
He enrolled in Black Hills State Teachers College and then enlisted in the Navy when the Korean War broke out. After the loss of his ship to a mine off the coast of Korea, Ray left after four years as a Petty Officer 1st Class and returned to college. While there, Ray joined the Army Reserve as a Sergeant 1st Class.
After completing his degree, Ray began his teaching career in Glendive, Montana then moved to Spokane to earn his MA in Education at Eastern Washington University, and worked at Sacajawea Junior High in Spokane for twenty-seven years teaching English, History, and Social Studies. During his career, Ray supervised forty-six student teachers.
While in Spokane he joined the Naval Reserve, then received a direct commission to the Coast Guard Reserve where he served for thirty three years including eight summers as an administrator/instructor at Government Island, Alameda, CA. He was the Commanding Officer of a Port Security Training Unit for twelve years, Deputy Group Commander of the Seattle Reserve and Commander of 13th Coast Guard Reserve. He was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation medal for his leadership.
Ray was the last of his generation surviving all ten siblings and their spouses, and his first wife Shirley Wickstrom. Ray is survived by his wife Pat Alward Wickstrom with whom he spent summers in Alaska and winters in Arizona at Pioneer Park, north of Phoenix, before settling in Spirit Lake, Idaho. He is survived by his kids; Shelley Wickstrom, Cheryl Wickstrom (Randy Tkachenko), Michael (Trish) Wickstrom, and Sharon Wickstrom (Jamey McCown.) Pat’s son David Root (Pam). His grandchildren include; Ethan and Brennan Wickstrom; Evan, Lucas and Will McCown; Rob Root and great grandchildren Julia and Aubrey Root, and he has numerous nieces and nephews who he also loved.
Ray was a life member of the VFW, the American Legion, Reserve Officers Association and the Masonic Lodge. He enjoyed wearing his “Korean War Veteran” ball cap and appreciated every stranger who bought his meal or coffee. He kept count of those gratuities and appreciated every one of them. (Teachers should have those hats.) Ray’s faith was important to him as was his family, fishing and canasta.
Ray always was thankful for everyday he had. You are invited to join the family in buying a veteran’s coffee, thanking a teacher, and contributing to your local food bank or Camp Lutherhaven in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A graveside service will be scheduled later this spring.
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