TILFORD | Raymond Joseph Bachmeier, 82, died Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, at his home in Tilford as the result of a fire.
Ray was born June 14, 1936, in Vale, to Lucas and Elizabeth (Werlinger) Bachmeier. He attended school in Sturgis, graduating from St. Martin’s Academy in 1955.
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in October 1955. He was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base for 17 months before serving at Tokyo, Japan, as a warehouse specialist with the 341st Supply Squadron, transporting cargo between Tokyo and Guam.
While stationed in Japan, Ray met and married Chiyoko Kikuchi on Feb. 14, 1959.
Following his tour in Japan, Ray completed his enlistment at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT. The family moved to Tilford in 1968, before making their home in Deadwood.
Ray began a career as a salesman for Twin City Fruit, covering SD, WY and NE. Having a talent for troubleshooting and repairing everything from coffee makers to ice machines, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and vehicles, he opened and operated Ray’s Refrigeration.
He later worked for the Lead-Deadwood School District in the maintenance department and drove school bus for many years. Realizing his passion for driving bus, Ray embarked on a long and storied career as a tour bus operator, mechanic, and guide.
After leaving the Lead-Deadwood School District, he returned to Tilford and made it his home for the past 18 years.
During his many years of driving for Dakota Bus, he logged more than 2 million miles and traveled to nearly all 50 U.S. states, busing tourists, gambling aficionados, National Guardsmen, firefighters, and students. He was thrilled when he finally completed his 50-state tour as he crossed Utah on a trip home from a family reunion in Washington State in 2014.
After turning 75, Ray worked as a bus driver and tour guide at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, earning the highest praise and referrals from his customers. He beamed with pride when sharing guestbook accolades thanking him for his exceptional knowledge and customer service. He also purchased his own buses and operated a shuttle during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally many years, before officially retiring in 2016 due to declining health.
Ray enjoyed gardening and loved sharing his annual harvest with family and friends. He will be remembered for his love and dedication to family, unwavering work ethic, generosity and willingness to help others, and his never-ending sense of humor. He made friends everywhere he went.
Ray is survived by a brother, Luke (Joan) Bachmeier of Sturgis; daughters, Deb Rawlins (Ray Osloond), Central City, Sandy Geffre (Jerry Prestjohn), Piedmont, and Jean (Cory) Washechek, Sydney, MT; and longtime companion of more than 20 years, Shirley Marsolek and her sons, Scott Howard of St. Paul, MN, and Patrick (Amber) Marsolek, Frederick, CO. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Jillian McLaughlin, Albin, WY, Michaela (Charlie) Freeman, Piedmont, Dannica and Cody Percevich, Belle Fourche, and Brock (Tylissa) Geffre, Lead; Shirley’s grandchildren, Chris, Tyler, and Lyndsay Howard, Jenny Labore, Vanessa Berg, Alicia Lamanna, and Alex Marsolek, all of St. Paul, MN, Lorena Marsolek, Sioux Falls, and Aubrey, Lila, and Ellery Marsolek, Frederick, CO; and five great-grandchildren, Riley and Teegan McLaughlin, Myles Freeman, Brekyn, Berkley, and Briggs Geffre, and Sawyer Percevich; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his parents; his wife, Chiyoko, in 1988; five sisters; two brothers; and Shirley’s son, Wade Howard.
Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Sturgis. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery. Friends and family are invited back to the church for a luncheon after the burial.
In lieu of flowers, the family of Raymond Bachmeier requests memorials be directed to the David Fischer Family Memorial at Black Hills Federal Credit Union to assist the family of fallen firefighter David Fischer of the Sturgis Fire Department and Sturgis Ambulance Service, who lost his life fighting the fire.
Condolences may be sent to the family at kinkadefunerals.com.