Cover photo for Ray Wiater's Obituary

Ray Wiater

August 10, 1933 — June 14, 2023

Appleton

Ray Wiater

Raymond Wiater (Ray) age 89 of Appleton, WI passed away comfortably and peacefully Wednesday, June 14th 2023, surrounded by his children. Ray was born on August 10th 1933 in Milwaukee, WI, son of the late Leo and Bernice (Dolata) Wiater. Ray's grandparents were Polish immigrants who traveled from Europe through Ellis Island to Illinois, eventually settling in Eastern Wisconsin. Ray's father, Leo, who grew up in Pulaski then moved at the age of 21 to Milwaukee where he met and married Ray's mother Bernice while working at American Motors Co. as an upholsterer. Together they had two sons, Bernard and younger brother Raymond. The Wiater family resided on the south side of Milwaukee in the Polonia neighborhood just below the Historic Third Ward. Until they entered grade school at St. Paul Catholic School, neither Ray nor Bernard spoke English. Throughout his early years, Ray was very fond of family gatherings during the holidays where Bernard would often play the concertina. Family reunions also became a tradition as his family grew larger. Kielbasa is a traditional Polish Easter meal and Ray enjoyed both delicious Polish cuisine as well as his Mother's homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and rice pudding with raisins. After high school, Ray joined the United States Air Force serving our country from 1953 to 1956. After completing basic training in both MS and TX, Ray's rank was Airman Second Class. He served with the 602nd AC&W Squadron in Birkenfeld, Germany during the Korean War Era. After serving 4 years in the military, Ray stayed on in the National Guard while working construction in the Fox Valley area before embarking towards a career in radio.

Ray acquired his education and radio acumen through correspondence courses in journalism at UW-Madison and attendance at the former Brown Institute in Minneapolis, MN. Ray began his radio career in early 1960 at WFAW in Fort Atkinson, WI, moving to WBEV in Beaver Dam, WI In June 1960, reporting news, sports casting, and maybe spun a 45-rpm record or two. In 1967, he moved on to WDUX in Waupaca, WI. In 1968, Ray assumed the News Director’s post at WDLB radio in Marshfield, WI which is where he formed a lifelong friendship with station manager John "Jack" Hackman. Lastly, Ray found his home in Appleton, WI landing his dream job in 1973 as News Director once again, at WHBY-AM 1230. He was hired by Lew Process and served under numerous station managers including Susan Knaack, finishing his career under the impeccably honorable Greg Bell, VP of Woodward Radio Group. WHBY’s call sign stands for “Where Happy Boys Yodel”!

Among the many honors Ray received during his radio career was induction into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in June of 2002, one of his greatest achievements. He left an indelible and lasting mark on Wisconsin radio with everyone he touched professionally along the way. During his "The Dean of Fox Valley News" career, Ray was also honored by the Associated Press and the Northeast Broadcast News Association for his news casting. Along with his "day job", Ray helped to establish the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association tradition of statewide broadcast of political debates. He served on a panel of broadcast journalist for the Association’s first U.S. Senate Debate in 1992 and the Executive Board of the Associated Press. In 1984 Ray received the prestigious Carol Brewer Award. Ray once said, "The only thing that we have to sell as a news person is trust, credibility and honesty". Ray was a stickler for details; the who, what, why, when, and where were his basis of honest unbiased reporting. Ray proudly served that role for over 54 years, 41 of them at WHBY.  His retirement from full time at WHBY was October 6, 2006 at which then Mayor Tim Hanna proclaimed it to be “Ray Waiter Day” to the City of Appleton. His final retirement after going part-time was December 31st of 2014.

Throughout Ray's career, he met many people and had a vast number of associates that are too numerous to count. Being that Ray spent most of his years in Appleton, it's important to recognize some of his most notable colleagues from WHBY as follows; Bob Lloyd, Tom Hamilton, Steve True, Ellen Kort, Mike Diamond, Jim Choudoir, Julie Pesch, Jeanne Anthony, Ed Walters, Bill Day (Walter Kalata), Bob Salm, Sandi Schmidt, Dave Edwards and Kathy Kuene. As News Director, Ray was authorized to hire staff at his discretion. Most notable hires were Miles Knuteson, Gretchen Ehlke and Len Nelson. Under Ray's watchful eye, they began their tutelage and all are forever grateful for his gentle mentoring. Ray also had several contacts and developed friendships with those in newsprint at the Post Crescent including Dan Flannery, Bernie Kemps, Bill Knutson and Arlen Boardman. Ray treasured all his friendships but especially his two dearest friends, Steve Brown of 30 plus years as well as Jim Fisher of 53 plus years, who were also part of Ray's WHBY entourage. We would like to thank Jonathan Krause for authoring the initial WHBY tribute to Ray Wiater on WHBY's website that has gone viral. Thank you all for being his most trusted and reliable confidants. As children we remember visiting both the Art Deco building in the flats near Lawe St. where WHBY first existed in Appleton and then their new location on Radio Rd. We were amazed by the constant clatter of the AP Teletype machine with news stories from around the world when the paper would be torn off the Teletype to be read live on air.

While employed and after retirement, Ray had many interests that filled his days. Family was first and foremost in his life. Ray devoted himself to his family, Catholic faith, and community. Ray was a kind, caring and loving soul. His great sense of humor and outgoing personality made him a lot of friends along his path as well as an excellent reporter. Ray never quit giving his best to all who knew him, nor did he stop moving. Ray thoroughly enjoyed health, fitness and was a familiar face at Appleton's YMCA. Ray prided himself at being an avid runner completing full marathons and later half marathons until the age of 81. He won medals for his age group! Some of his many hobbies included freelance writing, poetry and photography. Ray also enjoyed reading, dry roasted peanuts, watching the Green Bay Packers, nature in full bloom and his favorite color was purple, of course! Ray was dedicated to his Catholic upbringing and a longtime member of St. Joseph's Church in Appleton, WI. Ray happily volunteered his time at both the Emergency Shelter and St. Elizabeth's Hospital where he was known as the ambassador of the 4th floor Fremont tower at Ascension Health. When Ray passed away Ascension Health gave him great care, especially Angela, who cared for him until the end.

Ray married Eloise Jeske June 11th, 1960, and together they had four children. Ray was preceded in death by his parents Leo, Bernice, a brother Bernard "Sam" Wiater, and the mother of his children, Eloise Seif.  Ray is survived by his children Scott (Candy) Wiater of Appleton, Laura Hermann of Combined Locks, Steve Wiater of Greenville and Stacy Wiater (Mark) of Black Creek; grandchildren Kasi, Justin, Ella, Lila and Sean; great-grandchildren Elliott, Kennedy and Hunter.

The funeral liturgy for Ray will be held at 10:30 AM on Monday, June 26, 2023, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, located at 410 W. Lawrence Street in Appleton, with Br. Ray Stadmeyer officiating.  Ray will be laid to rest with full military honors at St. Joseph Cemetery.  Visitation will take place at the church on Monday morning from 9:00 AM until the time of the mass.

In honor of Ray's favorite color, please feel free to wear something purple to the service.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ray Wiater, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Monday, June 26, 2023

9:00 - 10:30am (Central time)

St. Joseph Catholic Church

410 W Lawrence St, Appleton, WI 54911

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Funeral Liturgy

Monday, June 26, 2023

10:30 - 11:30am (Central time)

St. Joseph Catholic Church

410 W Lawrence St, Appleton, WI 54911

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

At Rest

Monday, June 26, 2023

1:00 - 1:30pm (Central time)

St. Joseph Cemetery, Appleton

1528 N Ballard Rd, Appleton, WI 54911

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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