Raymond Fred "Ray" Breitenstein
1929 - 2020
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Raymond Fred "Ray" Breitenstein passed away peacefully at his family's Roseville home on August 2, 2020.

Ray was born in San Francisco's St. Luke's hospital on November 5, 1929, the only child of Leonard and Margaret (née Borchers) Breitenstein-both recent immigrants from Germany. When Ray was two, the family moved from San Francisco to the then-bucolic community of Millbrae. (Ray often noted that, at the time of their arrival, there were only 43 homes in the tiny community!) The rural atmosphere helped spark Ray's life-long passion for the outdoors and outdoor activity. Two blocks from home, the undeveloped wilderness of the old Mills Estate beckoned, offering countless hours of hiking, hunting, and fishing. In 1936, the family purchased a substantial parcel of land in NorCal's Franz Valley-nearby the Wine Country town of Calistoga. Regular visits to the "Calistoga" property only served to deepen Ray's connection with nature and outdoor activity.

In 1943, at the age of thirteen, Ray began working at the Millbrae Cabinet Shop-at first on weekends and during vacation time, but the part-time job would later become his career. After graduating from San Mateo High School in 1948, Ray became a full-time woodworker for Millbrae Cabinet's Helmig family. During the Korean conflict, Ray enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served his country honorably, including time in the country of Korea.

In 1957, Ray married Dorothy Nonie Beck, and within several years, they brought two sons into the world: Stephen Robert and Jeffery Fred. The family lived happily in Millbrae until Dorothy's untimely passing in 1978. Ray continued working for Millbrae Cabinet until his retirement at the age of 55. Upon retiring, Ray soon moved to the Franz Valley property and married his second wife, Dorothy Ann Green. Ray and Dorothy shared many happy years together in Franz Valley, as they both shared a passion for a rural lifestyle and local history: Both were deeply involved in volunteer work at Calistoga's Sharpsteen Museum-an institution dedicated to the history of Calistoga and the Upper Napa Valley. Sadly, Dorothy Ann passed in early 2014, after which Ray's son Stephen graciously moved to the property to help care for his dad. Displaced by the Tubbs Fire in 2017, Steve and Ray moved to Roseville, where Ray enjoyed the remaining years of his life.

A gathering in tribute to Ray's life will be held on the family's Franz Valley property sometime in the spring of 2021. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Calistoga's Sharpsteen Museum of Calistoga History.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The San Mateo Daily Journal on Aug. 12, 2020.
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3 entries
August 26, 2020
RIP Raymond Fred Breitenstein; Born: November 5, 1929 - Died: August 2, 2020. Loving Father, Husband, and Friend. Raymond was an Air Force Veteran having arrived in Korea just after the armistice deal had been struck between the North and South on July 27, 1953. He was a skilled Cabinet Maker, a Fisherman, a Hunter, and oversaw the operations of his "Busy Bees" Ranch near Calistoga, CA for nearly forty years. A history buff, Ray enjoyed contributing, hand-written, historical articles to the Calistoga Tribune. Additionally, along with his second wife, Dorothy Ann, Ray was a multiple winner in the "Tribune Mystery Photo" (of the week) contest at the Calistoga Newspaper. Ray and Dorothy Ann also volunteered at the Sharpsteen Museum in Calistoga. They were heavily involved in the day-to-day operations and activities at the museum. But, above all else, Ray will be remembered as an enthusiastic and unapologetic Philogynist. He always carried a reserve of Hershey's Kisses to distribute to his latest paramour(s). Beware all you Lady Angels in Heaven. You'd better prepare to be "kissed". (Ray's on his way:)
Stephen Breitenstein
August 25, 2020
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Tess Sanchez
August 24, 2020
Ray was a very special person with an extraordinary love for nature, animals and plants. Although I was only allowed to spend few hours with him during my visits, there was often a possibility for a good conversation. He had an eventful life - good days and difficult days, a family he felt secure, who gave his life meaning till to the end. He knew he was protected in his family. He could rely on his two sons what he accepted as a great gift. The sadness is great when a circle of life closes. The parting is final and we only slowly realize the loss. Ina and me will always remember the beautiful moments that we were allowed to spend with him and I will miss his fresh "wie geht’s” like he greeted me usually and so did on our last phone-talk just a few days ago too.
Rest in Peace, Ray
Manfred Treiber
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