Raymond Herrmann Schlienz was born in Queens, N.Y., to German immigrant parents on Aug. 2, 1927. He grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood full of immigrants from every part of Europe. Ray, who only spoke German until he began elementary school at the age of six, was always fiercely proud of his German heritage. One of his most vivid and treasured childhood memories was when he sailed across the Atlantic, in 1936, with his mother, and visited his relatives in Germany, many of whom sadly did not survive World War II.
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945, just as World War II was in its last days, Ray served stateside at Fort Monmouth and Fort Dix, in New Jersey; and at Fort Knox, in Kentucky, until he received his honorable discharge in 1946.
Following his return to civilian life, he attended Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, where he received a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. After a brief teaching stint at New York's famed Cooper Union, Ray embarked on what would turn out to be a successful career in engineering.
In 1952, he was hired by Western Electric, which manufactured the equipment used by the Bell telephone system. While at Western, he traveled widely on business throughout the U.S. and Canada.
On one such trip to Dallas, Texas, in 1954, he met Patricia James, who would become his wife in 1955. Following their marriage, they settled first in Brooklyn, later moving to Queens in 1957. The marriage would last for 64 years until Ray's death, producing two sons, Paul, in 1958, and Mark in 1965.
In 1960, Ray left Western Electric and joined in a family-owned tool and die business, in Queens, with his father and two of his uncles. Unfortunately, the business faced difficult times in the early 1960s economy, and Ray knew he would need to move on.
In 1963, Ray was hired by Boeing to work on the U.S. manned space program. He moved his family to New Orleans, where the Apollo rocket booster was being assembled, and he participated in the design. Later, in 1967, Boeing transferred Ray to the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, where he witnessed all of the Apollo launches, including the first manned flight to the Moon in 1969. Playing a role in this great achievement of mankind was one of Ray's proudest professional accomplishments.
In 1973, following the end of the Apollo program, Boeing transferred Ray to the Seattle area, ultimately working on the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) program for the remainder of his career at the company. During this period, he did a significant amount of globetrotting for Boeing, meeting with AWACS clients in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Japan. He had no regrets when he finally retired, in 1997, and looked back fondly on his years with Boeing.
During his later years, along with his wife, Patricia, he became involved with community activism in Kirkland, Wash., where he lived from 1973 to 2018. He also served on the King County Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
Ray was a voracious reader who devoured numerous historical works, spy novels and other books. He kept close track of current events and could be fairly described as a political junkie. He was a true baseball fan, first of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, later of the Seattle Mariners. He traveled widely - both in the U.S. and abroad - and his favorite vacation spot was Gearhart, on the Oregon Coast, which he visited numerous times. He loved dogs - three of his favorites were Sporty, the spitz (1937-1946); Bingo, the dachshund (1971-1986); and Prancer, the German shepherd (1987-2001).
Ray finally died, at age 91, on March 28, 2019, at the Redmond Heights Senior Living Center, after a long decline in health. He was well-liked by all who knew him and will be sorely missed. He was predeceased by his parents, Paul and Emma Schlienz, and survived by his wife, Patricia, and his sons, Paul and Mark. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced.