Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010
Raymond Louis Stolzenberg, 94, of Austin, died Thursday, March 11, 2010 at his home.
Ray was born April 3, 1915 to Nick and Anna (Kerling) Stolzenberg in Johnsburg, Minn. At 6-months-old, his parents moved to Austin. Ray attended school at Pacelli, graduating in 1933 and soon thereafter he formed a road dance band known as the Northern Playboys. Ray’s band consisted of an eight pieces; and he played the drums. The Northern Playboys played in an eight-state area. They traveled from one city to another.
During World War II, Ray served as Private First Class in the Army at Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1967 Ray quit playing in an eight-state area to get married. On June 20, 1967, he was united in marriage to Frances Benson of Red Wing, Minn. Frances worked as the director of nurses at St. Olaf Hospital in Austin. Next, he opened a music store on West Oakland Avenue which was known as Ray Stolzenberg Enterprises. During this time, Ray continued to play dances in a 100-mile radius.
Ray served as secretary and treasurer of the Local Musicians Union Local 766 American Federation of Musicians for 14 years. In 1981, Ray was inducted into the International Polka Music Hall of Fame in Chicago, Ill.
Ray and Frances loved cats. In 2001, they were given national publicity by Jason Davis of Channel 5-KSTP TV Minneapolis-St. Paul. Jason came to Austin to interview them and their six cats. It was an unusual story about five kitties and their mother who lived next door to Ray and Frances. The story was presented on Channel 5 TV on July 31, 2001 and was syndicated on about 400 stations. Many newspapers also picked up the story and it was covered in a national magazine called “The Polka News.”
Survivors include many cousins and friends.
Ray is preceded in death by his wife, Frances on May 28, 2002; and his parents.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, March 15, 2010 at St. Augustine Catholic Church with Father Joe Fogal officiating. There will be a 6:30 p.m. wake service on Sunday at Mayer Funeral Home where friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. and also one hour before the service at the church on Monday. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery with military rites by American Legion Post #91 and VFW Post #1216.
Mayer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.