Raymond W. Pritzke, 97, of Indianapolis, passed away Thursday, May 15, 2014, at Westminster Village North. He was born on Oct. 29, 1916, in Chicago, as the son of August and Clara (Ziervogel) Pritzke. He graduated from Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago.
Ray enlisted into the Army in April, 1941. He quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant and became a drill instructor, training troops for combat. He was shipped to England in early 1944 and embarked for France a month after the D-Day invasion where he joined the 84th Railsplitter Division in the area of field artillery. The division pushed its way into Germany by early December but was pushed back into Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. During the battle, Ray, now a Second Lieutenant, kept his artillery batteries continuously firing, helping to keep the weapons in order until the German advance was repulsed. His actions later earned him a Bronze Star for valor. The division then moved into Germany, liberating two concentration camps and later meeting the Russian Army at the Elbe River. Ray received a field commission to the rank of First Lieutenant and was part of the American Army of Occupation in Germany for a short period of time.
While stationed at Fort McClellan, Ala., Ray married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Featherstone (originally from Walls End on Tyne, England) on Dec. 18, 1943. They were married, for over 58 years, until Joyce passed away in Tucson, Ariz., in 2002.
Ray was a successful businessman. After returning from World War II, he started as a clerk for a trucking company in Chicago. He eventually worked his way up to Executive Vice-President of the company, and President of several of its subsidiaries. He became the “troubleshooter” for the company, returning several ailing companies to profitability.
Ray and Joyce loved to travel, returning several times to places he was stationed overseas, as well as many other locations throughout the world. He also enjoyed golf, walking, Nebraska college football, big band music, and a daily Manhattan (or two). He was a Rotarian for over 50 years and was active in the Saddlebrook Rotary Club in Tucson until age 93.
Ray is survived by his sons, Ronald R. (Peggy) Pritzke of Greenfield and Roger J. (Wendy) Pritzke of Tucson, Ariz.; grandchild, Allison (Joel) Bodkin of Minneapolis, Minn. and two great-grandchildren, Walter and Lillian Bodkin.
He was preceded in death by his parents, August and Clara (Ziervogel) Pritzke; wife, Winifred Joyce (Featherstone) Pritzke; brothers, Paul Pritzke, Edward Pritzke and Walter Pritzke; and sister, Ruth Sundermeyer.
A private family Memorial Service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions may be made to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, 14280 Collections Center Dr., Chicago, IL 60693.
Friends may share a memory or send a condolence at www.erleweinmortuary.com or email condolences to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arrangements are being handled by Erlewein Mortuary & Crematory in Greenfield.