Leland “Ray” Lutz, 87, of Chippewa Falls passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, at Dove Healthcare West in Eau Claire, under the care of Mayo Clinic Hospice.
He was born Aug. 10, 1931, in Booneville, Ind., to Benjamin and Bertha (Moore) Lutz. He lived most of his early years in Evansville, Ind., where he graduated from Evansville Central High School.
While a senior in high school, Lutz was offered a basketball scholarship at Indiana University. Deciding to play professional baseball instead, Ray left the day of his high school graduation to play for the Philadelphia Athletics organization. During his stint with the Athletics, he was drafted into the Army. While in the Army, Ray played both basketball and baseball. After serving, he continued his professional baseball career, having been traded to the Milwaukee Braves.
While playing with the Braves organization, during the summer of 1954, Ray called his parents in Indiana, to announce to them that he had found the girl of his dreams at a ballgame in Eau Claire. When asked her name, he replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t met her yet.” True to form, he married JoAnn Schmidt three months later, Nov. 6, 1954, in Evansville.
After moving to Chippewa Falls, he became the owner of Chippewa Falls City Cab, worked as a salesman for Quaker Oats Company, and was district manager for Reid-Rowell (Solvay) Pharmaceutical Laboratories. He retired in 1993. Over that time, he served as president of the Jaycees and McDonell Central Booster Club. He was appointed as a member of the Chippewa Falls Parks Board. In 1963, he was honored as one of the “Most Prominent Men” in Chippewa Falls.
Ray was a true sports and musical enthusiast. He spent endless hours watching his children’s and grandchildren’s games and concerts throughout their high school and college careers; he was a huge Badgers, Packers and Blugolds fan. Ray really enjoyed bringing people to Badgers games.
Ray is survived by his sons, Mike (Karen), Jeff (Sue), Pat (Loren) and Rick (Karen); grandchildren, Kayleigh, Kory, Hilary and Max; and one great-grandchild, Caleb. He was preceded in death by his wife; parents; brothers, Kenneth and Curt; sisters, Neva and Jenny; father-in-law, Everett; and mother-in-law, Gladys Schmidt.
The family would like to offer special thanks to Dove Healthcare West, 5th floor Cardiology at Sacred Heart Hospital and Mayo Clinic Hospice Care, for the exceptional care and attention of Ray.
Family and friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Horan Funeral Home in Chippewa Falls. Burial of cremains will be in Hope Cemetery in Chippewa Falls. A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Horan Funeral Home in Chippewa Falls. The Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Gorman of St. Charles Church will be officiating.
Family and friends may express condolences online at www.horanfuneralhome.com.