Ray Chelewski, 100, of Deming, N.M., formerly of Farwell, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Las Cruces, N.M. Ray was just a couple weeks shy of his 101st birthday.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in St. Paul. The Rev. Vince Parsons will celebrate the Mass. Military honors will be held after the Mass outside the church by the U.S. Navy Funeral Honors Team and Carl Mogensen American Legion Post 119 of St. Paul. Inurnment will be at Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Grand Island at 1:30 p.m.
Memorials are suggested to the family for later designation.
Peters Funeral Home of St. Paul is assisting the family.
The service will be livestreamed on Peters Funeral Home Facebook page. The direct link for that page is www.facebook.com/PetersFuneralHomeSP.
Raymond J. “Ray” Chelewski was born on August 23, 1921, in Loup City, in the little hospital which was just north of the current day Frederick Hotel. Ray was the eldest of 4 children born unto Stanley and Mary (Kusazk) Chelewski, and spent his early childhood on his parents’ farm north of Ashton. Ray’s mother passed away in 1932. Unable to raise children on his own after Mary’s passing, the decision was made that Ray and his siblings would go to live with the Kuszak and Chelewski families. Ray moved in with his Uncle John and Aunt Frances Chelewski
Ray joined the Navy during World War II, and was assigned to the USS Flusser, DD368, a Mahan class destroyer. Ray was the last surviving crew member of the USS Flusser. The Flusser participated in virtually every major action in the Southwest Pacific over the course of the war. Ray performed several jobs aboard the Flusser, everything from painting, being on the 5-inch gun, and eventually part of the torpedo crew which he enjoyed. The Flusser was damaged at different times by shore based Japanese artillery as well as Kamikaze attacks. Ray often shared about a Kamikaze hitting their ship and how he felt rivets from the disintegrating plane raining down on his helmet. He achieved the rank of 3rd Class Petty Officer and was the recipient of 5 Bronze Stars in the Pacific, 1 Bronze Star in the Philippine Liberation, a Good Conduct Medal and Liberty Medal.
While living on the ranch near Comstock he would frequently ride his horse into town to attend dances. It was there that he met Eloise Hunt whom he married a short time later in Grand Island, on September 28, 1948.
Ray worked at a variety of occupations during their marriage; for a dairy farm north of Grand Island, picking up, husking corn, plaster work, concrete radio tower construction, New Holland manufacturing, and truck driving for Storz and Hamm’s Beer companies, Rainbow Bread, and others. They lived for many years on an acreage at Chapman, and later at the old Fred Hunt ranch west of Ord. For a brief time after the sale of the ranch they lived in Farwell, and wintered in Deming, New Mexico.
Ray enjoyed polka music and dancing, traveling, especially in the southwest, and working on firewood projects with his family, telling stories to anyone who would listen. He had some amazing stories to tell!
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Stanley and Mary Chelewski; wife, Eloise on March 24, 2022; sisters, Christine Barnes, Paulette Rose Chelewski and brother, Paul Chelewski.
Ray is survived by his sisters, Jean Munroe of Grand Island, Sally Munsinger of Cairo, and Angie & Garth Wilson of Blanding, Utah; daughter and son-in-law, Carolyn & Joe Karner of St. Libory; sons and daughters-in-law, Steve & Cris Chelewski of San Antonio, TX, and Lynn & Belinda Chelewski of Beatrice; 5 grandchildren: Kim &Kevin Campbell, Erin & Jack Jurgens, Jill &Todd Kleint Melissa Karner, and Cody Chelewski; 17 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.