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1948 Raymond 2023

Raymond Yurkewycz

November 17, 1948 — November 29, 2023


Raymond Yurkewycz (Ray), age 75, passed away peacefully at home on November 29, 2023, in Palatine, IL. Ray was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend.

Ray was born on November 17, 1948, in Aschaffenburg, Germany in a post-World War II displaced-persons camp for Ukrainians. He and his parents immigrated to the United States in 1950, soon settling in Youngstown, Ohio. He enjoyed riding bikes and playing with the neighborhood kids in the diverse northeast Ohio steel mill town. His dad worked in the mills, and as a result, Ray picked up a love for physics and chemistry. Ray even rode his bike 60 miles to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to attend a science fair, much to the chagrin of his parents. Not just a science nerd, he was also an accomplished linebacker on the high school football team, picking up the nickname “Hawk”.

Soon after graduating high school, Ray enlisted in the US Army. He served his country with honor and dedication during the Vietnam War from 1966 to 1970. He cherished the bonds formed with his fellow soldiers during his service but was a staunch peace advocate for the rest of his life.

Immediately upon returning home from Vietnam, Ray pursued his academic passions, obtaining an undergraduate degree in physics from Ohio State University. While working in the steel mills of northwest Indiana, he met his future wife, Cathy. They soon married and had their first child, Raymond Peter (Ray or Raymie) in 1978.

Ray continued his education with a master's degree in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. His second child, Ann Catherine (Annie) was born, and a few months later, he embarked on a long career as a Chemical Engineer at Koppers, Inc. in Cicero, IL from 1983 to 2019. There he enjoyed the challenges of problem-solving in an enormous chemical plant while mentoring multiple generations of future engineers. Work was not just work for him – his passion for the subject matter and his coworkers inspired others.

Anyone who knew Ray would say, “They broke the mold when they made that guy.” He was a “far out” combination of loving, empathetic, goofy, nerdy, passionate, intelligent, fun, surreal, curious, cool, weird, crazy-making, and hilarious. He loved a lot of people, but especially his wife, kids, and grandkids. Ray was often seen taking his beloved doggies Jeb, Molly, and Benny for walks all over Palatine, as he cherished their companionship and sweet, innocent nature.

In his free time, Ray relished doing just about anything with the love of his life, Cathy (he was “Cathy’s clown”). He also enjoyed going to his kids' sporting events, playing with his grandkids, listening to a wide variety of music (especially mid-to-late 60's rock and roll), and conducting in-depth research (for fun) on various topics, ranging from ecology and botany to thermodynamics to the excretory system (no joke) and the history of the Youngstown, Ohio steel industry. He was an infinitely curious nerd.

A celebration of life for family will be planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mount St. Helens Institute ( Ray's son is the Executive Director there, and he was always proud of his son's work.

Ray is survived by his wife, Catherine M. Yurkewycz, his children, Raymond P. Yurkewycz (and wife Starr) and Ann C. Werner (and husband Mike), his grandchildren, Cady Mae, Mary Lou, Autumn, and Barrett, his sisters Mary Bosyj and Catherine Taras (husband Nick), and his dog buddy, Benny.

Raymond Yurkewycz will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him. His memory, quirky sense of humor, and kindness will forever live on in the hearts and actions of his many family and friends.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Raymond Yurkewycz, please visit our flower store.


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