Raymond Gelotte

September 12, 1919 to April 5, 2017

Raymond Gelotte

“I am a kite builder and when I take a kite out for its maiden flight something quite sublime happens. If I have built it correctly, this bundle of sticks and nylon that I have cobbled together comes alive when I expose it to the wind. It literally leaps out of my hands and climbs skyward and my heart soars aloft with it.”

Hans Gustav Raymond Gelotte was born in Clifton, NJ on September 12, 1919 to Swedish immigrants Gustav Alfred and Anna Elisabeth Eriksson Gelotte. Ray had two brothers, Arne and Hans, and a sister Elsie. Ray grew up in Brooklyn where he was given the nickname “Spumoni” because Gelotte sounds like gelato, Italian ice cream.

As a young man, Ray worked as a commercial artist for Suddler & Hennessey in New York City. In 1942 he joined the Navy in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He trained as an electronics technician, serving for the duration of WWII in the Pacific Theater on the USS Steveson. He was awarded both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.

Wikipedia gives us a glimpse of Ray’s next project:

“The forerunner to the Alaska Marine Highway was the Chilkoot Motorship Lines, founded in 1948 by Haines residents Ray Gelotte and Steve Homer. The company used a converted LCT- Mark VI landing craft, christened the MV Chilkoot. They operated a weekly service from Tee Harbor (north of Juneau) to Haines and Skagway. The Chilkoot Motorship Lines was purchased by the territorial government, and moved under the Territorial Board of Road Commissioners in 1951.”

When he traveled to Oregon to purchase the MV Chilkoot, Ray met Olive Doreen DeLisle. They were married on August 1, 1948. During the time they lived in Haines, Ray and Doreen welcomed a daughter and three sons into the family. They lived in Haines until moving to Juneau in 1959.

Ray worked as a marine electronics technician for Alaska Radio Supply, until he got “too old to climb radar masts.” He then worked as an appliance repairman for Lyle’s Hardware. He served as an Elder at Northern Lights Presbyterian Church in Juneau, and was a Cub and Boy Scout leader. He was a quiet man of strong faith, simple philosophy, and subtle humor.

Ray was a man of many interests. He loved classical music, and his children remember sitting in front of the stereo with him. They recall how he could make or repair anything. He baked his own bread and learned how to make pizza from scratch. He was an avid photographer.

In 1984, Ray and Doreen retired to Port Angeles, Washington. They enjoyed hiking Hurricane Ridge where Ray often led popular flower hikes. He hosted a monthly music group, complete with “concert notes” for the listeners. You could count on him to have binoculars close at hand as well as a bird identification book. He also photographed wildflowers, and gave talks and slideshows about the wildflowers of the Olympic Peninsula.

He took up backpacking at age 70, and began kite building at age 79. In his 80s, he took a quilting course at a community college in order to refine patchwork techniques for the designs of his kites.

When Ray was 90, he hiked up to the top of Heart o’ the Hills trail at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Someone asked him as he was coming down about his secret for a long life. Ray said, “I have always been at peace with myself. All my life with exception of the time around Doreen’s passing (in 1989), I have always felt that right now is the best time of my life!”

As a young man, Ray kept a Sea Diary where he expressed his love of the sea. Fifty years later he added an entry that ends with, “Though I never again sailed the Oceans, I still love the sea and have managed to live most of my life on its shores. I still thrill to the salt-laden wind and the sight of sea birds and the creatures that inhabit the oceans.”

Ray is survived by his four children:

Anna Marie Gelotte, Stockholm, Sweden, partner Goran Olsbro,  with daughter Anna Bolin, and Ray’s great grandchildren Leo Bolin, Nora Bolin, Uno Bolin and Milo Bolin.

Curt (Diane) Gelotte of Kirkland, WA, their children Abigail Gelotte and Nick (Liesl) Gelotte, Ray’s great grandchildren Madeline  and Ethan  Gelotte.

Michael (Jacqueline) Gelotte of Maple Valley, WA, their children Leia Hartwig, Deborah Wade, Daniel Gelotte, Matthew Humble, and Jonathan Gelotte, and Ray’s great grandchildren Samuel Hartwig, Elaina Wade, Isaac Wade, Angela Wade, Rachel Wade, Anthony Gelotte, Cipriana Gelotte, and Arthur Gelotte.

Dave (Christine) Gelotte of Shoreline, WA, and their son Benjamin Ray.

Memorial Service will be at Ocean View Cemetery, Port Angeles, WA June 27th at 1:00

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Ray’s Name to the Audubon Society

8 Responses to “Raymond Gelotte”

  • Christine DeLisle says:

    I am so sorry to hear that Uncle Ray has pass away. My dad, Donald G. DeLisle, Doreen’s brother, died December 26, 2016. We are delaying his Service till later this year as well. My thoughts are with you, Curt, and Michael, and Dave.

  • Cris Waste says:

    Dave, My heartfelt condolences for your loss. Ray was an amazing person. I feel fortunate to have known him even if just a bit. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Cris

  • Dave and Carlene Conway says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your father….he lived a very full and adventurous life. He lives on through all of you. Blessings to you all!

  • Vivian Hartiwg says:

    So sorry , but what an interesting life he had. Lots and Lots of wonderful memories for all of you. Sending much love from Nebraska

  • Karen Stumpf says:

    My sincere condolences and wishing you peace. Dave, your father sounded like a very special person. God bless all of you

  • Tom and Kim Lawson says:

    Dave, we are so sorry for your loss. Your father lived an incredibly long and full life. Cherish the memories!

  • Lynne Whited says:

    Ray, I hope you are soaring with your kites. I thought it really neat that you learned to sew, made quilts and kites. You invited friends to enjoy your music. The world was a better place with you in it.

  • Pat and Jules Mazza says:

    Raymond was my godfather, he and my mother Annamae Larson Iacucci, were cousins. I stumbled across this obituary while researching our Larson-Gelotte family history. I saw him last quite a few years ago when he visited NJ. Our deepest condolences to the family, what a wonderful man he was and what a full life he led!!

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