Raymond E. Michels


Raymond E. Michels


Ray Michels
Ray Michels

Ray Michels, age 90, of Laurel, Montana, passed away from a stroke on September 17, 2012. Ray was born to Lydia and Francis Michels and grew up at Acton, Montana. He graduated from Broadview High School where he could not stop talking about being on the basketball team. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and became trained in automotive repair. He rose to the rank of Sergeant and supervised his own motor pool. He later worked under an inspecting general for the Army Air Corp.

After the Army he worked at Hines Motor Supply, and Loren Anderson Drilling Company. Eventually Ray bought one of the drilling rigs from Loren and became a water well drilling contractor, drilling wells throughout the Yellowstone valley and surrounding area.

While working at Hines Motor he met Louise Jacobs, who was working next-door as a “McKesson girl “. They were married in 1948. This was a “city girl” who became the love of his life and she became fully integrated as his partner on the ranch.

In 1957, he purchased a ranch outside of Laurel. He expanded the quality and size of the operation and became a full time stockman. Later the ranch became known as Rawhide Ranch. Many groups enjoyed the Rawhide Ranch including the Boy Scouts, Black Powder groups and the Laurel Saddle Club, and the filmmakers of “Return to Lonesome Dove”. Besides ranching, he also loved welding. Many of his welding innovations are still in use today.

As a young man he saw Pres. Roosevelt electrify rural Montana. He thought that this was one of the most important improvements for the well-being of people in rural areas. He joined the Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative, and eventually became a director and board president, serving 31 years on the board. He truly loved serving in this role, many times attending meetings and events and supporting this organization.

He is survived by children, Colette (AJ) Spurlock of Baldwin City, Kansas, Claudine (Jack) O’Connor, Ismay, MT, Frank (Mary Jo) Michels, Billings, MT, Fred (Loretta) Michels, Shepherd, MT, Flint (Bobbi) Michels, Goodyear, AZ, and niece Raenel (Rick) Larson of Woodland, Washington.

He is survived by twenty one grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.

The family would like to thank special friend Judy Dustin and also his personal physician Steve Gerstner.

Ray was preceded in death by his mother and father, Lydia and Frank Michels; stepfather, John Uhrich; spouse Louise Jacobs Michels; brother Arnault Michels; daughter Claire Michels; and great granddaughter Maggie Manas.

Memorials, in lieu of flowers, may be made to Yellowstone Valley Electric, P. O. BOX 249, Huntley, MT, 59037, Attention to: Ray Michels Memorial Scholarship.

A prayer service will be at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary in Billings, Montana on Sunday September 23rd at 7:00 PM with visitation from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. The funeral service will be held at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Laurel Montana on Monday, September 24th at 10:00 AM. Rite of Committal with Military Honors will follow at St. Anthony’s Cemetery in Laurel.

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  1. Marion and Rose Coleman

    To all the family of Ray: We just wanted you to know you are in our prayers during this time of sorrow. We remember when Ray first started coming to the Senior Center and then onto the board. We really enjoyed visiting with him. We sent our sympathy to all the family. Rose and Marion Coleman

  2. Wayne & Faith Jewett

    To Ray Michels Family: Ray made a great impact in our lives. Wayne thought of him as a father. We would spent many times out at the ranch with Ray riding along with us when we would go hunting or when we would be doing work for him. He would share all of his knowledge about drilling and working in the water well industry. He always shared all of the stories he had through his life. He will be greatly missed and our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Ray touch many lives through out his life and was such a great man. Please know we are there for your whole family if there is anything we may help you with. God bless you and your family.

    Ray always believed in drilling with the cable tool was the best kind of drilling there was. He now will be in heaven and be able to drill those wells that he loved to do. Rest in peace Ray. We love you.

    Wayne and Faith Jewett

  3. To Ray’s family: I am so sorry for your loss. I have know Ray for only the last 10 or 11 years. We had some great visits over that time. He was an amazing man. I marvelled at what he could accomplish in spite of his poor eyesight and hearing loss. I will miss him. All of you are in my prayers at this difficult time.

    Webb Mandeville

  4. Pat (Wetch) Mitchell

    Collette and family,

    I remember when I was a young girl when you, Collette, invited me to spend a weekend with you and your family. You lived in the home your dad had built for your sweet mom. I enjoyed spending time on your bed visiting and laughing with your mom before we went to sleep. I remember riding a horse while your family moved cows from one pasture to another. It was a special time for me that I have never forgotten.

    Many years have gone by and I and my 2nd husband were traveling out in the area of Clapper Flats about 2 years ago. We decided to find your dad’s property. We went up to the house and found that your dad was living in the smaller house by himself. He wasn’t there, but the door was unlocked and only the screen door closed. We left and came back to our home in Billings. Later that evening I called your dad. We had a most wonderful “catch-up” visit. I had great intentions of getting back to actually visit him, but it never happened. I am sorry I did not ever get back over there to visit him as I am sure he was fairly lonely and would have loved the company.

    Collette, I am in my last year of teaching in the Billings Public Schools. Through your dad, I was reminded that you have brothers. I had not remembered them from that weekend experience. One of the your brothers is a teacher out at Skyview. I have never met him, but your father spoke so highly of all of you, I thought I should make a special effort to get over there. Again, our work schedules haven’t passed. I teach Braille to several students and provide specialized equipment to students with low vision or who are blind. I work out of the Lincoln Center and travel to the schools where the students are. Currently, I don’t have any students at Skyview.

    I am sorry for the loss of your father and hope you are all doing well. I am sure there are many decisions to be made regarding the property. Your dad loved that property. He was happy to live there and work there. He seemed to have made a good life for all of you.

    Take care and please contact me some time if you can.

    Pat (Wetch) Mitchell (406-656-0370 or 406-670-2020)

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