Raymond J. Flinn, 82, of Elburn, passed away peacefully at Geneva Care Center in Geneva on Monday, July 23, 2012.
He was born April 2, 1930, in Chicago, the son of John and Emily (McGee) Flinn.
Ray grew up in Chicago and attended Crane Technical Prep High School.
Ray enlisted into the United States Marine Corp and served his country faithfully and honorably for four years through the Korean War. Although they never sent him overseas, he rose to the rank of sergeant while working in the motor pool maintaining the general’s cars, which he described as “not a bad gig during war time.” Upon his return to civilian life, Ray continued to work as an auto and truck mechanic at various garages, eventually finding a home at Hyster Lift Trucks.
Ray met Maxine Brechon at the Marine Ballroom in Chicago. The weekly dance attracted many young men and women during that time, and as luck would have it, Maxine caught his eye and soon his heart. Two years later, they were united in marriage on Aug. 11, 1956. They began their new life together in Oak Park, Ill., welcoming home a son, Brian, a year later. Beth completed the family in 1960.
They moved to St. Charles, where Ray restored an airplane in the garage. Saturdays were reserved for flying across the countryside for breakfast or just “airport hopping” with Ray as pilot and Brian as “co-pilot.” Later, the family moved to a 100-year-old, two-acre farm in Elburn in 1966. As was his custom, Ray built another garage/workshop that would never house cars, just airplanes. It was a labor of love and took a lot of help from family and friends to make it “livable,” but unforgettable memories were made in the process—a process that, to this day, is still ongoing.
While living in St. Charles, Ray began working for E.C. Dorsey in Aurora as industrial machinery repair man, and later moved up to sales. He moved on to maintenance and all around foreman for the machines at American Precision in Chicago for a time before becoming foreman for the machine operation at GPE Controls in Morton Grove, Ill. He worked on very large diesel engines in Woodstock, Ill., later working for Perfection Machine in Elk Grove, Ill. Ray started his own business, The Mark Company, before retiring from Monitor in Elburn, where he was the “go to” all-around fix-it-man.
Ray got the model steam-train bug, and fabricated many live steam engines from scratch in his shop. He was a very active member in all the Midwest steam train clubs and loved to travel with Maxine on annual summer trips to the Rockies, riding the full-size steam trains in the mountains and touring the magnificent sights around Colorado. In addition to steam trains, motorcycles, airplanes, trucks and even boats captured his imagination.
Ray received certification in underwater welding and salvage, and started his own company, Mark Diving Service. Ray also had a very active interest in all things aviation and worked at Fox Valley Aviation at the DuPage Airport, repairing airplanes and receiving his A & P (Airframe and Power Plant) certification. He had his first solo flight in 1955. Later, he went to multi-engine, instrument flight rating, as well as obtaining what he described as the most difficult rating: rotary wing (helicopter) rating.
Ray loved Elburn Days, not because of anything that went on in Lions Park, but because Grandma Marie (Maxine’s mom) would serve up his favorite spaghetti dinners.
He was a collector of still cameras, and actually had a dark room for doing his own processing. If Ray ever had free time, you could find him reading not only books but also technical manuals about all his favorite pastimes.
He is survived by his loving wife, Maxine; two children, Brian Flinn and Beth (Alan) Heyob; one granddaughter, Sally Heyob; several nieces and a family of friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Dorothy.
Visitation and a funeral service to celebrate his life was held Friday at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. Private family interment will follow cremation at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Raymond Flinn Memorial” and mailed in care of The Flinn Family, P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com, where you can also find his full-life story.