Lawrence Ruben Pagel (1918 - 2011)

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Lawrence Ruben Pagel, age 93, the last of the original Red Raven Orchestra, passed away October 21, 2011 at Brillion West Haven, with his three daughters at his side.

He was born March 21, 1918, in Brillion, in the oldest home on the property of Deer Run Golf Course. Larry was a lifelong resident of Brillion. He was the second son of the late Bolexcina (Bettner) Pagel and Fred W. Pagel. On February 7, 1939, Larry married his childhood sweetheart Vesta Schuler, at Friedens Evangelical & Reformed Church, Brillion. Larry and Vesta enjoyed 67 years of marriage. Larry was a professional musician for 67 years. Larry started his playing career at the age of 16, having studied the bass horn under the direction of Carl Wolf, Brillion High School music teacher. He left home at 18 years old to play in the Dick Strickland Band in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He returned to Calumet County in 1938 and joined Lawrence Duchow and the Red Raven Orchestra. He had perfect pitch and taught himself to play the bass violin. Larry was famous for his recordings of "Tubby the Tuba" and "The Elephant Waltz" and was on every RCA Victor recording with the Red Ravens.

During World War II he held three full time jobs. He ran Pagel's Dairy out of the basement of his home. He worked at the Brillion Iron Works. And he continued to play with Dick Friche at the 5 O'Clock Club in Manitowoc, WI. He also had his own band named Larry Pagel and the Midnite Rounders. After the war he rejoined Lawrence Duchow and the Red Raven Orchestra, playing throughout the Midwest, until they disbanded in 1954. Larry drove semi for the Brillion Iron Works beginning in 1954 until May 4, 1959 when an accident ended his trucking career. Larry played with the Jay Andy Dance Band, out of Appleton. He sold Moorman's concentrates to farmers for 22 years, gaining many awards for top selling. Larry retired from the Moorman Mfg. Co. in 1983. Larry's final gig was with the Gene Heier Orchestra, playing with Gene for 35 years. While playing with Gene, he taught himself to play the bass guitar and used it a great deal on their modern music arrangements. The band traveled to Europe, Hawaii and the Caribbean, entertaining those fans that accompanied them on the trips.

Although Larry's first love was music he also enjoyed snowmobiling, his antique automobiles, spending time with his family, and traveling. He read the Wall St. Journal and was a great conversationalist. He was a member of Peace Evangelical and Reformed Church, Potter, and served as a member of the consistory. Larry was an active member of the Brillion Lions Club for 73 years. He was presented the highest award given to any Lion's member, the Melvin Jones Fellowship award. Larry was a lifetime member of the Brillion Historical Society. He was long time member of the American Federation of Musicians. At the time of his passing he served on the Board of Local 205 as an Assistant Trustee.

Larry is survived by his three daughters, Jean (Gerald) Hoyer, Jane (Arlyn) Fuhrmann, and Joan (John A.) Holzschuh, all of Brillion. He was "Bapa" to seven grandchildren, Andrew (Susan) Fuhrmann, Amy (Tim)Hanson, Adam (Kristie) Schwahn all of Brillion; Audra (Shawn) Neuman, DePere,; Nathan Schwahn, Manning, SC; Tera Holzschuh and her husband Steven Duvall, Denver, CO. and George (Abby) Holzschuh, Kimberly; three step-grandchildren, Becky (Greg) Henderson, Morgantown, IN, Tricia Hoyer, Neenah, Robert (Jung Oh) Hoyer, Seoul, South Korea. Fourteen great grand children, Kaitlynn, Kristine and Brandon Fuhrmann, Elizabeth, Tanner and Landon Hanson, Aidan, Adeline, and Ashlin Neuman, Alaina, Karley and Brennan Schwahn, Roman and Thomas Holzschuh. Six step great grandchildren, Claire (Chad) Teachout, Dana (Alex) Zarling, Ryan and Amy Federwisch, Irene and Jerry Hoyer. An AFS grandchild, Junko Takahashi, Nishinomya, Japan. Special friends, Lillian and Harland Kuchenbecker, one nephew, David Pagel, Little Sturgeon, WI; three nieces, Donna (Carl) Boesch, Chilton, Diane )Clayton) Schaffer, Combined Locks, and Dawn (Mike) Mathis, Powder Springs, GA.

Larry was preceded in death by his wife, parents, one brother and sister-in law, Clarence and Mertie Pagel; sister in law and brother in law, Lilly (Schuler) and Wilmer Huebner. One nephew, Paul J. Pagel and one niece, Marie Pagel Cooper.

The funeral services for Lawrence Ruben Pagel will be held on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 5 p.m. at Peace Evangelical Reformed Church, Potter, Rev. Dr. Marc Axelrod, officiating. Visitation will be at Wieting Funeral Home, Brillion, on Sunday, October 23, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the church on Monday from 3 p.m. until the time of service. Burial will be in the Brillion Community Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at

Thank you to the West Haven staff, Heritage Assisted Living, and ThedaCare Hospice. A special thank you to Amanda Leon and Claudia Abba.

Funeral Home
215 SOUTH MAIN Brillion, WI 54110
(920) 756-2102
Funeral Home Details
Published in Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter on Oct. 22, 2011
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