Raymond O. Knabe of Sheboygan, 84, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family on Sunday, March 27, 2016, at St. Nicholas Hospital. He was born September 16, 1931, in Sheboygan, son to the late Gustave and Caroline (Klein) Knabe. He graduated from Oostburg High School in 1949. In 1955, he was united in marriage to Evelyn R. Bercier. He later divorced and raised his three children on his own. He was employed by the Kohler Company until he was disabled from numerous hip injuries.
Rays passion was polka music. He played drums in numerous bands including The Ray Knabe Orchestra, Midnight Suns, Jolly Slovenians, We Three, Tony Gosz and The Kingsmen. Through his travels with his bands, Ray knew every little city and burg in Wisconsin and could name any restaurant, cheese factory or back road in almost any city.
He loved to socialize and have breakfast at Judis Restaurant in Sheboygan, where he always sat in the back room at the head of the table. Ray also loved to fish on the North and South piers and on the Sheboygan River. He spent many summer mornings on the South pier and even caught a world record Chinook salmon in the late 1970s.
In July of 2012, he was a guest host for Third Saturdays at the Sheboygan County Museum. The topic was Sheboygan County Dance Halls in the Big Band Era. He spent the day speaking and reminiscing about the good old days when music was good. That was one of the highlights of his final years. Ray enjoyed watching professional wrestling with his grandsons, Dylan and Squire. He also looked forward to playing Sheepshead every Wednesday evening.
Ray is survived by his daughter, Rhonda (Rich) Barts; son, Randy Knabe; grandchildren, Heather (Josh) Batzner, Dylan Boden, Tiffany Schomberg, Dakota Knabe and Squire Krajniak; great-granddaughters; Ashley and Hailey Batzner; sisters-in-law, Ruth (Zastrow) Knabe and Patricia Brasser; niece, Brenda Knabe and special daughters Mel Krajniak and Heidi Carpenter.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Gus Knabe and daughter, Renea (Fran) Boden.
A celebration of Rays life will be held on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. at Zimmers Westview Funeral and Cremation Care Center (Hwy 42 JJ, Howards Grove) with Pastor Mark Brunn officiating. Friends may call on Thursday, at the funeral home, from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service. Committal will follow at the Wildwood Cemetery. Please visit www.zimmerfuneralhome.com to sign the guestbook.
The family would like to thank the outstanding staff at Sheboygan Progressive Care Center for their compassionate and loving care. Their genuine warmth and kindness was very comforting to Ray and his family.