Raymond Robert Rizor was born November 27, 1943 to Steve and Lethea (Daley) Rizor in Guernsey, Wyoming where he spent his early years surrounded by a large extended family.
Later his family moved frequently as his father was a power plant operator for the Bureau of Reclamation. Ray spent his junior high years in Wyoming and New Mexico and attended High School in Jamestown, North Dakota prior to joining the Marine Corps.
Following three years in the military, Ray was united in marriage to Kaaren Olsen May 1, 1965 in Los Angeles, California. Ray’s career in fire control with the US Forest Service began in 1970. In 1978 Ray and Kaaren moved with their children, Mike and Lisa, to Fort Howes Ranger Station near Ashland, Montana where Ray served for many years as the Fire Management Officer on the Ashland Ranger District of the Custer National Forest.
After Ray retired in 1992, the Rizors enjoyed raising their foster daughter Marlene Flying Horse, visiting their children and grandchildren in the Midwest, traveling, boating, serving their area through Ashland Community Health Center, and raising Ray’s prized herd of registered Appaloosa horses on Otter Creek. Ray was an active member of the Appaloosa Horse Club and his contributions to the Appaloosa Journal magazine focused on creating a healthy breed, free of genetic diseases.
Ray’s line of work called on him to set aside personal safety not once but many times when lives, homes, and property were at stake. He’d never admit to being a hero, saying he was just doing his job. Perhaps most importantly, Ray was a bridge builder. His friendships with people from all walks of life were central to who he was and what he believed. His philosophy, “we’re all just people” enabled him to connect with others and find common ground. As a result, Ray was loved by many.
Ray’s exuberance for life, his love of nature, and his quest for adventure made for quite a journey. Indeed, he lived and in doing so inspired the rest of us to do the same. Ray loved bluebirds and built many houses for them on his place. Bluebirds will forever remind us of the man we knew and adored.
Ray passed away in the evening on January 24 at his home in Ashland at the age of 69.
Survivors include his wife, Kaaren; two children, Mike (Anne) Rizor of Delano, MN and Lisa (Russ) Aslesen of Ottumwa, IA; two sisters, Kathy Reardon of Casper, WY and Vickie Storm of Glenrock, WY; one brother, Steve Rizor of Colorado Springs, CO; five granddaughters, Maddy, Libby, Ellie and Maggie Rizor and Hannah Aslesen; eight nieces and nephews and many great nieces and nephews.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Ron, and one sister, Clea, who died in infancy.