POLSON — Raymond “Ray” Russell Theiler, 78, died at home on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, surrounded by loved ones. He was born to Martin and Myrtle Coates Theiler on Nov. 12, 1938, in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, the youngest of three children.
Ray spent his childhood on the family dairy farm on Theiler Drive in Tomahawk, which was started by his grandparents, Marianus and Katherine Waldvogle Theiler, immigrants from Switzerland. As a child he attended St. Mary’s Grade School and served as an altar boy. He graduated from Tomahawk High School in 1956. Ray’s love of the outdoors and fishing led him to Michigan College of Mining and Technology from which he graduated in 1960 with a degree in forestry. Ray married Maureen Gallagher on Nov. 25, 1959, in Tomahawk.
He started his professional career with the Wisconsin Conservation Department, in Mercer, Wisconsin. Always wanting to “go West,” he accepted a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of Interior, in Lame Deer in 1961. In 1966, Ray, Maureen and their four oldest children transferred to the Flathead Agency of the BIA, located in Polson, where he resided at the time of his death.
Ray was an active member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Polson. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, serving in a variety of roles and receiving several awards. For years, Ray threw horseshoes with the Mission Valley Horseshoe Association and bowled with the Senior Tuesday group. Ray lived to fish. While he would not share his techniques or favorite fishing holes, he was quick to share his daily catch with others. His fish fry was always a huge hit, whether in the parking lot of his parish or at family gatherings. For 19 years, Ray spent weeks each spring on the Salmon River in Idaho, volunteering at the Pahsimeroi Fish Hatchery, restoring the steelhead population. Lake Mary Ronan was Ray’s second home, making friends with everyone on the lake. He lived his life in the great outdoors, with God as his guide and a fishing pole (or two) in hand!
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Maureen, children MaryPat (Tony) Cheng, Matthew (Tammy) Theiler, Kathleen (Chuck) Elliott, Betsy (Joel) Craswell, Hugh (Kellie) Theiler and Sarah (Dave) Horten, 15 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, a large extended family and a host of good friends. Ray was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Roseanne.
Ray’s life and faith will be celebrated on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 10 a.m. by a Mass of Christian Burial at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Polson. He will be laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to The Oberlitner-Theiler Family Scholarship, Polson Scholarship & Education Foundation, PO Box 741, Polson, MT 59860.
Ray’s family wishes to thank his care givers from Partners in Home Care and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Polson. “Fish hard, stay humble,” “cheer each other on” and “see you down the road.”
Messages of condolences may be shared with the family online at thelakefuneralhomeandcremation.com. Arrangements are under the care of The Lake Funeral Home and Crematory.