Raymond C. Wifler
Raymond C. “Ray” Wifler, 83, passed into eternal
life on May 2, 2020. The youngest child of five to Raymond E. and Kathryn
(Glynn) Wifler, he was born in Plymouth Wisconsin on February 18, 1937. Ray
graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh. He attended Michigan State
University earning both his master’s degree and PhD. In 1967 he met his loving
wife Carla Bietz. They were married in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on January 25th,
1969 at St. Patrick’s Church. Together, they had a full life of music, family
Ray’s family was precious to him. He instilled an enduring
love of learning in his children. He taught them to appreciate all forms of the
arts, to play one or more musical instruments and expanded their horizons by
taking them on trips around the state, the country and overseas. Ray cherished
his relationships with his daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law. He also dearly
loved being with his six grandchildren. He was deeply proud of their
accomplishments and always supported them by attending their concerts, musicals
and sporting events. To his siblings’ families, Ray was known as “the fun
uncle” and loved to visit his extended family and stay connected with them
throughout his life.
As a lifelong educator, Ray’s career spanned 43 years. He
began teaching in 1958 at Lomira Public Schools and later Juneau Public Schools
followed by a position at UW-Fond du Lac. From 1984 to 2003, he settled in as
Professor of Music and Department Chair at Marian University. During his years
there, he also taught a semester at Harlaxton College in England. He especially
enjoyed teaching Music History and Jazz History, mentoring those studying music
education and inspiring many others to newly appreciate classical and jazz
He was the founder and co-director of the Buttermilk
Festival, Music Director of the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band for 42 years,
Charter President and Board Member of the FDL Arts Council, founder of the FDL
Oratorio Chorus in 1971 (now South Shore Chorale), and choir director at St.
Patrick’s Church for 33 years. He was a frequent clinician and guest conductor
for many Wisconsin school bands and organized many local and area music events.
Performing on clarinet, saxophone and trumpet was, of course, one of his true
passions. Ray started the Ray Wifler Orchestra at the age of 16, then performed
in many other groups including Hi Five (in college days), The Sun Rays, the New
Century Dance Orchestra, Doc and the Jazz Box, and the Disciples of Dixieland.
He was a member of the American Bandmasters Association, the
Wisconsin Bandmasters Association and many other music related organizations
both national and international. He was honored and humbled to receive many
awards including a FDL Exchange Club Golden Deeds Award, a Windy Award from the
Windhover Center for the Arts (now Thelma), a WMEA Community Service Award and
was also named a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow. Finally, Ray’s family was
extremely proud to witness the naming of the Wifler Performance Center at
Buttermilk Creek Park in his honor.
Ray will be missed tremendously by his family and friends.
Survivors include his wife, Carla; three children, Erin (Xavier) Meilhon of
Fond du Lac, Matthew (Angela) Wifler of St. Charles, IL, and Erika (Michael)
Gergits of Neenah; six grandchildren, Emeric, Quentin and Sebastien Meilhon,
and Benjamin, Ellinore and Amelia Wifler; sister, Janice Welytok of Shawnee,
KS; his mother-in-law, Paula Beitz of Brownsville; brothers-in-law, Todd Beitz
of Fond du Lac and August Luedtke of Lomira; four sisters-in-law, Andrea
Luedtke and Gwen Almond, both of Lomira, Jean Steiner of Plymouth, and Gloria
Wifler of Scottsdale, AZ. Ray is further survived by ten nephews, William
Wifler, Peter Wifler, Tim Wifler, Kent Stuiber, Mark Stuiber, Paul Wifler,
James Wifler, John Wifler, Jon Luedtke, and Robert Frank; and six nieces, Cathy
Marsh, Elizabeth Studer, Ann Warner, Marianne Chisam, Katy Konovalske, and Kristen
He was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Kelly
Wifler; two brothers, Wallace Wifler and John “Jack” Wifler; sister, Roselle
Stuiber; father-in-law, Lester Beitz; four brothers-in-law, Walter Welytok,
Jerry Almond, Sylvester Stuiber, and Eldon Conyne; three nephews, Terry
Stuiber, Chad Stuiber, and Charles Wifler; and a niece, Kalen Luedtke.
Memorials may be sent in his name to the following; Fond du
Lac Symphonic Band, music ministry of Holy Family Catholic Community, THELMA
Sadoff Center for the Arts, Agnesian HealthCare Foundation and the Music
Department of Marian University.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at a later date.
Cremation has taken place.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff
of Agnesian Healthcare Hospice Hope and also Harbor Haven Health and
Rehabilitation Center for their kindness and care.
Additional information can be found at ueckerwitt.com