AURORA, Ill. - Raymond Albin Carlson died early Thursday morning, Feb. 2, 2023, in Aurora, Illinois, at The Grove of Fox Valley (VA-affiliated) nursing home.
Raymond was born to Raymond Albin Carlson and Hazel Eloise (nee James) Carlson on Saturday, April 12, 1924, in Taylors Falls, Minnesota, and his family lived across the St. Croix River in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. Raymond was the eldest of five sons (Raymond, John, Rolland, James, and a baby boy that was stillborn in 1934). Raymond's father was the son of Swedish immigrants, so Raymond was half Swedish. Raymond's mother's family was of English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish heritage and immigrated to the U.S. from Canada.
In his youth, Raymond and his brothers went ice skating at a local rink that had a warming house. Raymond was the first person to ski down the newly installed ski run in St. Croix Falls. He also went duck hunting with his father in 1939 and he played football in high school. As a child, Raymond was fascinated with airplanes and began building model airplanes at the age of eight. He built many model airplanes during his lifetime and especially liked the ones that were radio-controlled.
In April 1942, just two weeks after his 18th birthday, Raymond was granted early graduation from St. Croix Falls High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (a precursor to the U.S. Air Force). During World War II, Raymond served in California, Texas and Utah, and trained future pilots on the LINK-trainer equipment. He also taught aerial gunner trainees how to shoot using machine guns mounted on the back of a moving truck.
After the war, Raymond enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught ROTC classes. While at the UW, Raymond coached a rifle team that won several competitions. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in February 1948 and entered active duty in the U.S. Army Reserves on Sept. 30, 1948. On Sept. 27, 1948, Raymond married Barbara June Osterhaus in Madison, Wisconsin, and, shortly thereafter, they sailed to Germany on the U.S.S. Alexander (an old German ship from World War I) where he was stationed in Bamberg until early 1952.
During his nearly 25 years in the U.S. military, Raymond served in Madison; Fort Benning, Georgia (where he graduated from Advanced Infantry Officers School in 1954); Bamberg (the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division); Korea (the 17th Infantry Regiment); Okinawa (HQ, RYUKYUS Command); Fort Knox, Kentucky (6th Armored Cavalry Regiment); Nürnberg, Germany (2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment); Dowagiac, Michigan; and Vietnam.
Raymond was a military veteran of World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. Raymond was sent to Nürnberg in 1961 during the height of the Cold War - just before the completion of the Berlin Wall. He was responsible for securing a section of the border between Germany and Czechoslovakia during this assignment. Raymond was promoted to lieutenant colonel before his deployment to Vietnam in 1966, and he retired when he returned home in November 1967.
Raymond accepted a position with the Federal Civil Service working for the U.S. General Services Administration in Chicago. While working for the GSA in Chicago, Raymond and Barbara took a number of vacations to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and fell in love with the area. Once Raymond retired from the GSA in 1985, he and Barbara sold their house in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and moved to the U.P. to build a log home on their property on Lake Gogebic. Raymond and Barbara loved living in their dream home in the U.P. Raymond planted dozens of trees of various kinds, such as blue spruce and white pines. Raymond and Barbara enjoyed fishing together and watching the wildlife near their home, especially birds. These were very happy years, indeed.
After Barbara died in October 1997, Raymond continued to live in their dream home, but spent time traveling within the U.S, including two trips to Walt Disney World, and even went to Germany to visit his daughter and her family.
Raymond believed strongly in higher education. While stationed in Michigan, he completed his bachelor's degree in political science at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo in 1966. While working for the GSA, Raymond earned his master's degree in management in 1973 at DePaul University in Chicago. Raymond was an avid reader, especially history, military history, biographies, and political analysis. He encouraged his children and grandchildren to further their educations, as well, and he and Barbara generously supported their children's college and graduate school educations.
In recent years, Raymond sold his home on Lake Gogebic and moved to The Grove of Fox Valley nursing facility in Aurora, so he could be near his daughter, Mary, and her family.
Raymond was a great patriot who strongly believed in the power of the vote. He eagerly looked forward to each election, whether national, state or local, and made sure that his ballot was submitted as early as possible.
Raymond is survived by his three children, Linda C. Gilbert (Carl) of Powder Springs, Georgia, Mary S. Scott (Robert) of Aurora, and William J. Iwama-Carlson (Saika) of Los Angeles and Tokyo. Additionally, Raymond was the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren, Elizabeth and Alex Gilbert, Geoffrey (Nicole) and Alison Scott, Samantha Carlson, and Constantine and Winston Iwama-Carlson. He is also survived by two of his brothers, Rolland Carlson of Powder Springs, and James Carlson (Joan) of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; as well as nieces and nephews and their families.
Raymond was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara; his parents, Raymond and Hazel (nee James) Carlson; his brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Elverta Carlson; and an infant brother.
A funeral service to celebrate Raymond's life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. at the Wittkopp Funeral Home, 123 South St., in Plymouth, Wisconsin, with Rev. Ric Olson officiating. Military honors will follow. Relatives and friends may greet the family at the funeral home on Saturday, Feb. 11, from noon until the time of service. Raymond will be buried beside his wife, Barbara, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Plymouth, not far from where his parents are buried.
Expressions of sympathy can be made to the family by visiting lakeshorefuneralhomes.com.
The Lakeshore Family Funeral Homes, Wittkopp location, is assisting the family with arrangements.