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Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Raymond Helminiak


1925 - 2017 Notice Condolences
Helminiak, Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Raymond Lt. Colonel Raymond Helminiak age 92, passed away peacefully at his home in Mequon, Wisconsin, in the early morning hours, September 9, 2017. Supportive loving father to Jon Helminiak and Lyn (Helminiak) Falk, and devoted husband to Marilyn Moevs Helminiak, Ray Helminiak was a Renaissance man before his time. A voracious reader of non-fiction, he was well versed in nearly every historical subject. He was a published writer, tennis player, pilot, bicyclist, and bird hunter. He loved international adventure travel and built and paddled kayaks before they became popular. He was an aficionado of classical and baroque era music, and had the ability to quickly and accurately name the composer after only listening for few short seconds. Helminiak was also one of the founding members of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and its first financial contributor. Born to Polish immigrants Lottie and Joseph Helminiak on January 21, 1925, Raymond was raised by his Polish speaking family on Milwaukee's south side. His father and mother worked long hours at an ice cream and chocolate chop they founded on Mitchell St. Helminiak graduated in 1943 from Pulaski High School and earned a degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1949. His college years were interrupted when he enlisted in the Army Air Force and earned his pilot wings. Assigned to fly B-17 bombers, Helminiak was stationed in England with the Eighth Air Force, 388th Bomb Group, and flew many missions before his aircraft took heavy shelling over Germany in February, 1945. Helminiak helped nurse the crippled aircraft back to England where it crash landed, critically injuring him. For his service, Helminiak was awarded the Purple Heart. His injuries permanently grounded him from military flying. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 1972 with the rank of Lt. Colonel. During his working career, Helminiak was President of Quality Candy Shoppes and vice-president of Buddy Squirrel Nut Shops Inc, which manufactured fine chocolates and roasted premium nuts. The company was the successor to the small ice cream shop founded by his parents on Mitchell Street. At one time the company had 22 retail stores throughout Milwaukee and a large wholesale division. It was one of Milwaukee's most popular local confectioners and nut shops. Helminiak was a prolific and award winning writer, who authored more than 100 articles for the Milwaukee Journal, the Milwaukee Sentinel, Wisconsin Trails Magazine, Exclusively Yours Magazine and other regional and national publications. His subject matter was primarily aviation related, but he also wrote of the outdoors, kayaking, soup recipes, and family humor. For many years he served on the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers and served a term as President. In 1951 he married Marilyn Moevs, of LaCrosse Wisconsin. Together for 66 years, they enjoyed life in Whitefish Bay, Mequon and their beloved homes in Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin, and Oro Valley, Arizona. Helminiak is survived by his wife, Marilyn Moevs Helminiak, son Jon Helminiak, Milwaukee; daughter Lyn (Helminiak) Falk of Theinsville, Wisconsin. Helminiak was much loved for his gentlemanly nature, humility, generosity and quick wit. He seldom spoke about himself, preferring to take interest in others. In keeping with his humility, per his request, there will be no memorial service. Helminiak was very philanthropic. Memorials may be sent to the Council for Wisconsin Writers (wiswriters.org); the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (macular.org); the Northwoods Land Trust (northwoodslandtrust.org); the Camp Manito-wish YMCA (manito-wish.org); the Wisconsin Chapter of (DAV<" + 'img' + " src='" + adImpUrl + "' style='width:1px; height:1px; display:inline; margin:0px; padding:0px' />"); }()); -wi.org" target="_new" rel="nofollow">-wi.org); the Experimental Aircraft Association for the Flying Heritage B-17 Aluminum Overcast (eaa.org).
Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Sept. 13, 2017
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