Captain Raymond Walter (Butch) Modrzynski was born May 15, 1926 in Rogers City, Michigan to Stanley and Frances (Romel) Modrzynski. He died at Bowman Place in Three Rivers, Michigan on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the age of 96.
Butch was the second eldest of 12 children, attended St. Ignatius Catholic School and then Rogers City High School where he wrote football the 1942 season. The following summer (June 1943) he went to work as deckhand on the Great Lakes. freighters and ended up making sailing on the Great Lakes his profession. He had a short break when he enlisted in January 1945, spending four months as a private in the army infantry, then serving 18 months as a Tec 4 cook with the 610 Tank Destroyers in the islands. Philippines. Returning home, he resumed his career as a sailor, working his way up, eventually earning his way to the captaincy, which he held until his retirement 38 years later on December 31, 1982. He was employed by United States Steel Corporation, USS Great Lakes Fleet and certified by the United States Merchant Navy.
Butch met his wife, Caroline, at the Rogers City Dairy Bar where she worked. They married on January 7, 1950 and started their family which grew to eight children, 14 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. “Grandpa Butch” was known for his loyalty and commitment to his wife and family. Many who knew him called him “Captain Butch” and he mentored many young sailors who rose through the ranks. His mother and sisters lovingly called him “Raymee”. Butch was a member of VFW Post 607 in Rogers City, a member of the International Association of Great Lakes Ships Captains, and a life member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 1705, earning third degree honors in March 1957.
Her hobbies included ice fishing, woodworking, painting, making crochet and craft rugs, making chooks (knitted winter hats for which Caroline made the pom poms that covered them) and the Christmas decorations, as well as the meticulous maintenance of his garden. He and Caroline (whom he affectionately called Kal) spent many years traveling across the United States in their fifth wheel, visiting family and making new friends wherever they landed. They moved from their forever home in Rogers City, Michigan to Bowman Place in Three Rivers, Michigan in August 2017.
Butch is survived by his wife of 72 years, Caroline, children Bill (Annielaurie) of Lawrence, Kansas, Paul (Donna) of Gaylord, Michigan, Jean (Felix) Skalski of Three Rivers, Michigan, Mary Jo (Kenton) Vaughn of Gulliver, Michigan, and Tomas (Jessica) of Three Rivers, Michigan, and her daughters-in-law Dona Modrzynski of San Antonio, Texas, and Debra Modrzynski, of Indian River, Michigan, as well as 2 brothers Clem of Alpena, Michigan , and James (Linda) of Manistee, Michigan, and five sisters: Genevieve (Frank) Gierak of Washington, Michigan, Patricia (Bernard) Malkowski and Joyce (Ronald) Klee, both of Houghton Lake, Michigan, Gladys (Ron) Kuznicki of Lupton, Michiagn and Charlene (Patrick) Leen of Nokomis, Florida.
He was predeceased by his parents, two brothers (Stanley, Jr. and Henry), two sisters (baby Esther and Frances/Fano), two grown sons David (Dona), James (Debra) and son John.
Visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. Memorial Mass and luncheon will be held Saturday, August 13, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 645 S. Douglas Street, Three Rivers, Michigan 49093.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to the charity of one’s choice. Envelopes are available and can be mailed to Hohner Funeral Home, PO Box 1018, Three Rivers, Michigan 49093 for arrangements.
Interment will take place at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Rogers City, Michigan at a later date.
Online condolences can be shared at hohnerfh.com.