In memory of

Raymond A. Buell, age 85, of Helena

May 13, 1929 – November 12, 2014

Raymond A. (Ray) Buell, 85, died November 12, 2014, with family by his side in Helena.

Ray was born May 13, 1929 at 12:19 P.M. in Great Falls, MT to Albert C. Buell and Katherine M. E. (Marchie) Aldrich who raised him in Augusta, MT.  Ray had suffered from Lewy Body Dementia which was the cause of his death.

Ray is survived by his daughter, Kathleen (Buell) Woods of Beaverton, OR,  his brother, Art Buell of Billings, MT, his  grandchildren Lauren (Buell) King of Surprise, AZ, and Ryan Buell of Phoenix, AZ and their mother, Karen (Buell) Franklin also from Phoenix and his great-grandchildren Haley and Sydney King of Surprise, AZ.  He is also survived by many nieces and nephews and their children who he adored and spent time with whenever he got the chance.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife Wilma (Carl) Buell, his son Richard A. Buell and his grandson, Jason R. Buell, his brothers Bud and Clyde Buell and his sister Marchie Lou (Buell) Marcotte.

Ray worked at Woolworth’s where he met his wife Wilma Carl, he worked on the construction of Canyon Ferry Dam, served in the Army in Washington and Camp Desert Rock during the atomic bomb testing, Goodall Brothers as an assayer, and at the Montana State Highway Dept. as a chemist until he retired in 2003. Ray was famous for being one of the surviving “Atomic Soldiers” during nuclear bob testing in Nevada.

Ray was an avid collector of rocks, gems and artifacts.  He loved photography and enjoyed taking pictures of his favorite people, places, and things.  He obtained his pilot’s license in his later years and enjoyed his time up in the sky. He was a long-time member of the Sleeping Giant Flying Club.  He loved going to rock shops and mineral shows to find new additions to his collection of minerals and fossils.

He loved the Sun River Country.  Every chance he could, he would bundle the family in the car for a trip to the cabin.  He would bounce up the gravel road along the Sun River, past Castle Reef and Sawtooth, turning up the forest service road at Gibson Dam to Beaver Creek.  He loved to fish the cold mountain stream and hike the mountains there.

Family receiving friends will be held on today, November 16th, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Retz Funeral Home, 315 E. 6th Ave, Helena, MT 59601. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, November 17th at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1000 Helena Ave., Helena, MT 59601. Burial with Military Honors will take place following the service at the Sunset Memorial Gardens. Immediately following the burial there will be a reception in the St. John’s Lutheran Church social hall.  Flowers may be sent to Retz Funeral Home for the service.  Donations may be sent to Frontier Hospice, 800 Front St., Helena, MT 59601.  Please visit below to offer the family a condolence or to share a memory of Ray.


Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Gene McMahon says

    Dear Kathy & Family,
    Please accept our Deepest Sympathy on Ray’s death. Ray was an excellent Technician and
    a very good Friend.
    God Bless that gentle Man and May He Rest in Peace.
    Respectfully Yours,
    Gene & Peggy McMahon

  2. Paul and Lisa (Carl) Powell says

    Dear Kathy and Family,
    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Ray was such an amazing, positive, smart, loving and sweet man, he will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him.
    Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were going to ‘Willie and Ray’s’ house with my Mom and Dada (John and Teressa Carl) and listening to them tell stories, laughing a lot and looking at Ray’s beautiful rock collection. (Ironically, going to Willie and Rays house is also one of my son, Max’s, fondest childhood memories as well. He and Ray would go downstairs and look at the rocks for hours, and Max learned so much from him, and even has his own collection now, no doubt due to Ray’s loving influence.)
    At least now we know he is with the love of his life, your sweet Mom Wilma. How wonderful it must be for them to be together again! Hopefully that thought can bring you some peace during this difficult time. Take good care of yourself, we all love you.
    Paul, Lisa, Teressa and Max

  3. I was Ray’s primary flight instructor back in the 1990’s. Ray took up flying again after a hiatus that began in the 1940’s and was my favorite student of all because of his pure enthusiasm.
    Even though we would sometimes not have the greatest lesson, you couldn’t remove his smile no matter what. I was truly sorry to hear about Ray but have great memories of our time in the cockpit.

  4. Jane Howard says

    Ray and Wilma were wonderful neighbors in Helena and Ray continued to check on Mom and Dad after they moved to Touchmark in 2010. They sent cards to my kids for years, to wish them Happy Birthday. I haven’t lived in Helena since 1977, but on my visits home, I had the pleasure of chatting with Ray over the fence. When he returned from trips, Ray would pop over to excitedly tell Mom and Dad of his adventures. He loved talking about family and I was there for his enthusiastic recount of a hot air balloon race. My mom and dad, Dora and Stan Howard, have passed on but they would want to share how fortunate they were to know Wilma and Ray.

  5. Bryan Brown says

    I was Ray’s flight instructor in the 2000’s. He was working on his instrument rating and he certainly loved to fly. This rating was hard for him but he loved it. I enjoyed listening to Ray talk about his service in the army. He loved to tell about the time when they were testing an atomic bomb and it didn’t go off and they told everybody to run. He said he was out running generals and other officers just as fast as he could go. My family will truly miss Ray. He loved our kids and they always called him grandpa Ray. They always loved the Christmas gifts he gave them. Ray was much more than a student to me he was a good friend and I will miss him.

  6. It was such a privilege to have cared for and spent hours listening to Ray’s sharing of family history (e.g.1st Thanksgiving) and his many interests and experiences; I learned a great deal.
    One memory makes me chuckle: Marge made him a fresh apple pie and I cut him a nice sized piece which he enjoyed. When I returned the next morning, the pie was nearly consumed!
    I like to know the meaning of names so wanted to share Raymond’s (mighty; wise protector)
    Albert (noble and bright). These are quite fitting for a loving, devoted father, grandfather and great grandfather.

  7. Shelly (Buell) Moore says

    Uncle Ray was a wonderful man that will be sorely missed! Although I had not seen him in many years since I moved to Oregon I still tried to keep up on him through Dad & Mom and later Lauren. He always had such an enthusiasm for life that was contagious! I can tell he has given that gift to his grandchildren. Treasure it my cousins. It will serve you well.

    I remember as a child when we’d go to Augusta to see Grandma Marchie, Uncle Ray, Uncle Clyde & Aunt Sis and their families would come over. The card games and reminiscing was always a blast and they had such a wonderful time. I’m sure they are having a great time together now!

    We are so proud at how he protected our country, protected & passed on our family’s history, and tried to make the world a better place by all that he did. Even in adversity he was to be admired. A lesson in life for all to learn from. Rest easy Uncle Ray.

    To the rest of the family, we are with you in spirit.
    Sending our Love across the miles! <3 <3 <3

  8. Laura (Marxer) Frazier says

    Uncle Ray will live forever in my heart as the most loving, kind, understanding person in my life. He was my “safe haven” in the worst of times and the first person I wanted to share my happiness with in the good times. He loved unconditionally. He lived with joy in his heart and shared his love and peace with every fortunate soul who ever met him. Visits to his home or up to the cabin are memories to cherish. He and my dear Aunt Wilma showed us all how marriage is supposed to be. His always close at hand camera, captured our lives and our love for him. My husband, Keith and I were fortunate that he came to spend time with us in Virginia and will cherish those memories. Keith and Ray shared a love of history and could talk for hours on it. Uncle Ray, you will be missed. I rejoice in your going Home to Wilma, but will miss your presence here, Thank you for your loving example. I hope someday to be the woman you believed me to be.

  9. Jeanne Murtha says

    I had the pleasure to visit with Ray at his home in Helena. I was working as a home health caregiver and Ray was a kind, gentle, wonderful storyteller. He was one of my favorite clients and it was always a happy time spent with him. He would talk of his lovely wife, his daughter, projects we could work on together, his rocks and antiques.

    My deepest condolences on your loss. Ray was a lovely man.

  10. Sarah Carlson, Chuck Council, & Anna Council says

    Ray was a true delight as a neighbor on Lockey Avenue. One summer when our hollyhocks were in bloom, Ray came over to show our young daughter how to make them “look like ladies and dance” by putting them petals down on a plate of water. He recalled learning that as a child in Augusta. He is a one of kind guy who is missed! May knowing how happy he made others help his family through your sad and difficult times ahead.

  11. Bill Warfield says

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on Ray’s passing. Ray was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and one of the kindest people I have ever known. He was always excited when my kids came to visit me at the office and always seemed to come up with a piece of candy for them! It was a privilege and an honor to have known and worked with Ray at MDT. RIP Ray!

    Bill Warfield

  12. Rhonda Strainer Robertson says

    To Ray’s Family,
    I was saddened to hear of Ray’s passing. Worked with him at DOT in the 80’s. He had a sparkle in his eye and a genuine smile. He was always interested to hear what was happening in my life. I hope the memories that you hold so close in your heart sustain you in the days ahead.

    Rhonda Strainer Robertson

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