American Veteran 04

Raymond William Shem, Jr.

February 21, 1946 ~ September 12, 2020 (age 74)

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Raymond Shem, age 74, went to be with the Lord on September 12, 2020.  He died unexpectedly after an accident in the home.  Ray lived a wonderful and full life in the place he loved the most - Colorado.

Ray was born on February 21, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois to Ray and Dorothy Shem.  The eldest of seven children, Ray went to Mendel High School in Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.  Growing up, Ray loved spending summers and making memories at the family home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  He loved “the lake” and taught all his siblings and neighbors how to swim and water ski.  He also worked as a lifeguard and boat crew member on the Water Safety Patrol, a job he loved and cherished.

The son of a WWII pilot, Ray always dreamed of flying.  In 1969, Ray enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for six years.  During that time, he met the love of his life, Jackie, during pilot training in San Antonio.  They met in July 1970 and were married in December of that year.  They moved to Sacramento, California, where he was stationed at Beale Air Force Base.  During those years, Ray earned his MBA from the University of Southern California.  He flew tankers for the Air Force, refueling the SR-71 Blackbird, then the world’s fastest airplane.  He flew many sorties over Vietnam.

After leaving the Airforce, Ray and Jackie moved to Denver, Colorado, a life-long dream of his.  Ray began his career as a commercial pilot, first with Frontier Airlines and ending with America West Airlines. His career spanned 25 years; he retired in 2000.

In his retirement, Ray was active with the Colorado Mountain Club, serving as a board member, teaching high altitude mountaineering, and leading many hikes and excursions.  He summitted 39 of 52 Fourteeners (mountains in Colorado taller than 14,000’). Ray loved the outdoors, hiking and camping.  Ray and Jackie enjoyed traveling the world, visiting Greece, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Alaska, France, the Caribbean and many other places.

He was a devout Catholic and loved the Lord.  He and Jackie attended the St. Francis of Assisi parish in Castle Rock.

Ray leaves behind his wife of nearly 50 years, Jackie; his son, Ray of Asheville, NC; daughter-in-law, Kate and two grandchildren, as well as a brother (Bill) and four sisters (Diane, Barbara, Loretta, and Linda).

Ray was a good man; a devoted husband, father, grandfather and brother.  He was respected and loved by everyone around him.  He will be missed by so many people.  We are so thankful to have had him for as long as we did.


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