Ray Maas, age 86 passed away at Wisconsin Veterans Home at King on April 26, 2014. Ray was the first child born to William and Emma Maas on May 22, 1927, in Little Chute.
Ray proudly served his country in WWII in the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the LST 576. He remained in contact with his service brethren through the years, including many ship reunions. He was a member of the VFW and the American Legion Post 38 and a founding member of The Scarlet Color Guard. As an accomplished trumpet player, Ray played Taps with heartfelt pride for many fellow veteran’s funeral services.
Ray retired as an Appleton city bus driver, then his life really began.
Ray was a very gifted musician, following in the footsteps of his father. Beginning at age 16, he was a member of several orchestras over the years playing many styles of music. His true passion was playing Dixieland Jazz which he did with true greatness. In his early years he played trumpet and trombone, as well, but later became best known for his mastery of the tuba and string bass. With his son, Joe on drums they provided the best rhythm section one could experience. Along with this, Ray’s “Satchmo” vocal style was a real treat for the listener. For many years he played under the banner of Big Daddy and The Dixieland Five. Later, along with Ross Hubin, he helped form The River City Six, a very successful band still active today. He also performed often with The Geriatric Jazz Band. Playing music with his fellow musicians, too numerous to mention, provided one of Ray’s greatest pleasures in life. His musician friends were truly his extended family.
One of Ray’s fondest musical memories is the time that he stopped at Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay in 1956. Louie Armstrong was playing and not only did Ray have the opportunity to sing with him on stage, but afterwards Satchmo himself handed him a bottle of Schlitz! Satchmo was very impressed by Ray’s imitation of him...
Ray met his beautiful Judy at a job that he was playing in Green Bay in 1992. It was love at first sight and they were inseparable for 22 years. He was so happy when Judy was singing some snappy tunes with the band. She, more than anyone else, provided Ray with love and support. They had such a wonderful life together.
Ray was blessed with artistic and musical talent which he passed on to all six of his children who went on to use their talents well.
Ray is survived by the love of his life, Judy Elliot, his children: Dick (Jean) Maas, Diane (Gary) Shebilske, Donna (special friend Mike Tokos) Andrews, Joe Maas, Steve Maas, Peter (special friend Julie Claeys) Maas, and 5 stepchildren: Chris, Jeff, Lisa, Jackie, & Alison. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Andy, Todd, Jodi, Katy, Lauren, Becky, Bonnie, Shawna, Heather, Jackie, Kaleb, and fourteen great grandchildren. Ray is survived by his siblings: Mary Abitz, Millie (Gary) Otto, Rosie (Doug) Thompson, Bob (Marion) Maas, Jerry (Mary Ann) Maas, Lyle (Jeanne) Maas, Bill (Judi) Maas, and Tom Maas, sister-in-law, Lynn Maas; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Emma Maas, his first wife Alice, a sister Darlene, sister-in-law Jeanne Maas, grandson Matt Shebilske, brother-in-law Ray Abitz, and most recently, his brother Don Maas.
Memorial services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, May 3, 2014, at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, 323 S. Pine Street, Little Chute, with Fr. Ronald Belitz officiating. Inurnment will be in Holy Name Cemetery, Kimberly. Visitation will be at the church on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until the time of the Mass. In lieu of flowers, a memorial is being established in Ray’s name.
The family would like to give special thanks to everyone on 1st floor of Ainsworth Hall at King, and to Thedacare hospice workers, Sina, Sue, Heidi, Mary, Sarah, and Tracie for all of the loving care that they gave to Ray. Also, thanks to the staff at Bridgewood in Neenah, which was Ray’s home for sixteen months and where he was given such loving care. Thank you to Aseracare as well.
And of course a very grateful thank you to Lyle Maas, and Bill & Judi Maas for all of the extra love and care they gave to Brother Ray.