Raymond C. Buxton

Raymond C. Buxton, 83, Birchwood, Wis., died Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, at his home.

He was born Dec. 24, 1935, at Balsam Lake to Vivian (Anderson) and Cecil B. Buxton. He attended school at both Barron and Cameron, and graduated in 1954 from Cameron High.

He married Mari Gronske in 1955 and they had four children together. They moved to Milwaukee in 1956, and were later divorced in 1972.

Ray was certified in arc welding and worked at Heinecke Company, Milwaukee, from 1955 to 1959. He joined S & M Manufacturing and worked as a welder from 1959 to 1965. His last and longest employment was at the Acro Automation Company, Glendale, from 1965 to 2000.

After all those years in welding, he developed skin cancer from the welding fumes and the Acro company sent him to Milwaukee School of Engineering, a prestigious school for future engineers, paying his tuition.

Acro Automation is a company that specializes in designing and manufacturing machines that implement robots to eliminate high-risk jobs on assembly lines, such as welding for the Ford Motor Company and General Motors.

He earned his degree in mechanical engineering and stayed with Acro until his retirement in 2000. During his employment there, he held the titles of mechanical engineer, machine designer, mechanical/robotical special engineer, project engineer and, lastly, application engineer.

His machine designs remain in place in factories around the world. He defended his robots, even though they may have replaced many line assembly workers, by saying: “They never take a break and they never complain.”

In 1988, he married Dianne K. Berg, who was working as a manufacturer’s representative for a major food company. Her job involved constant travel and his job often took him to Europe, so it was a good marriage as they seldom saw each other. After retirement, that situation remedied itself, and they enjoyed many years of happiness together.

He was a skilled and finished carpenter, learning this trade from his father. It may have taken him longer than usual to finish a project, but when it was done, it was perfect. He said he never had more fun than when he helped build the new Trinity Lutheran Church at Birchwood in 2001. He joked that the guys worked for food, and he never heard a swearword uttered.

Ray was always an avid and skillful golfer and card player. He is one of the few who can claim a "hole-in-one." There was no limit to his enjoyment of both golf and cards. Only advanced COPD (emphysema) knocked him off the golf course and no doubt he’s still mourning about that.

He loved playing cards, particularly a game called "dirty clubs," and he loved his card buddies. He also loved playing jokes on people and telling jokes. Even his church pastor was the recipient of a funny joke on Sunday morning and he often used it to begin the service.

Surviving are his wife Dianne; stepchildren Robin Berg Libner and Tom (Shannon) Berg; and step-grandchildren Aaron (Erin) Libner, McKinze Berg and Morgan Berg, all whom he loved as his own. He is also survived by children Debra Parra, Michael Buxton, Denise Buxton Spenser and Lori Buxton; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; a brother Leonard; and sisters Margaret (Jerry) Hesselink and Letty Severson.

Ray was preceded in death by his mother Vivian Buxton Elwood; his father Cecil; an infant son Mark; sisters Ardella Hill and Faith Ann Haseltine; and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, from Trinity Lutheran Church, Birchwood, with visitation an hour prior. Rev. Jack Jorgensen will officiate, with interment at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Cemetery, Almena, at a later date.

Appleyard’s Home for Funerals, Rice Lake, is handling arrangements.