Captain Raymond Walter (Butch) Modrzynski


Captain Raymond Walter (Butch) Modrzynski was born May 15, 1926, in Rogers City, Michigan, to Stanley and Frances (Romel) Modrzynski. He passed away at Bowman Place in Three Rivers, Michigan, on Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the age of 96.

Butch was the second oldest of 12 children, attended St. Ignatius Catholic School, and then Rogers City High School where he lettered in football the season of 1942. That next summer (June 1943) he went to work as a deckhand on the Great Lakes freighters and ended up making sailing on the Great Lakes his career. He had a short break when he was drafted in January of 1945, spending four months as a private in the Army Infantry, then serving 18 months as a Tec 4 cook with the 610 Tank Destroyers in the Philippine Islands. Upon returning home, he resumed his sailing career, working his way “up the ladder,” eventually earning his way to the position of Captain, which he held until his retirement 38 years later on Dec. 31, 1982. He was employed by United States Steel Corporation, USS Great Lakes Fleet, and certified by the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Butch met his wife, Caroline, at the Dairy Bar in Rogers City where she worked. They were married on Jan. 7, 1950, and started their family which grew to eight children, 14 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. “Grandpa Butch” was known for his loyalty and commitment to his wife and family. Many who knew him referred to him as “Captain Butch” and he mentored many young sailors coming through the ranks. His mother and sisters lovingly referred to him as “Raymee.” Butch was a member of the VFW Post 607 in Rogers City, a member of the International Ship Masters’ Association of the Great Lakes and a Life Member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 1705, earning Third Degree honors in March of 1957.

His hobbies included ice fishing, woodworking, painting, making latch hook rugs and crafts, making chooks (knitted winter hats for which Caroline made the pom poms that went atop them), and Christmas ornaments as well as taking meticulous care of his yard. He and Caroline (who he affectionately referred to as Kal) enjoyed many years of retirement traveling around the United States in their fifth wheel, visiting family, and making new friends wherever they landed. They moved from their lifelong home of Rogers City, Michigan, to Bowman Place in Three Rivers, Michigan, in August 2017.

Butch is survived by his wife of 72 years, Caroline, children Bill (Annielaurie) of Lawrence, Kansas, Paul (Donna) of Gaylord, Michigan, Jean (Felix) Skalski of Three Rivers, Michigan, Mary Jo (Kenton) Vaughn of Gulliver, Michigan, and Tomas (Jessica) of Three Rivers, Michigan, and daughters-in-law Dona Modrzynski of San Antonio, Texas, and Debra Modrzynski, of Indian River, Michigan, as well as 2 brothers Clem of Alpena, Michigan, and James (Linda) of Manistee, Michgian, and five sisters: Genevieve (Frank) Gierak of Washington, Michigan, Patricia (Bernard) Malkowski, and Joyce (Ronald) Klee both of Houghton Lake, Michigan, Gladys (Ron) Kuznicki of Lupton, Michiagn, and Charlene (Patrick) Leen of Nokomis, Florida.

He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers (Stanley, Jr. and Henry), two sisters (baby Esther and Frances/Fano), two adult sons David (Dona), James (Debra), and infant son John.

Visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by a memorial Mass at 11 a.m. and luncheon will all be held on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 645 S. Douglas Street, Three Rivers, Michigan 49093.

In lieu of flowers donations can be directed to the Charity of One’s Choice. Envelopes are available and may be sent to Hohner Funeral Home, P.O. Box 1018, Three Rivers, Michigan 49093 in care of arrangements.

Interment will be at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Rogers City, Michigan at a later date.

Online condolences may be shared at hohnerfh.com.