Raymond Joseph went to be with the Lord on August 7th after a brief illness. Raymond is survived by his beloved and loving wife, Mary Elizabeth Joseph; daughter, Gina Joseph Greenlee; son, Mark (Janann) Joseph; five granddaughters, Jennifer Sparks, Ashley Richardson, Brittany Joseph, Jenna Joseph and Caroline (Olivia) Joseph; great-grandchildren, Elyssa Sparks and Jackson Sparks; brother, Harry Joseph; sister-in-law, Dorothy Joseph; nieces, Margaret (Ted) Hull, Patricia (Brian) O’Loane, Virginia (Gary) Cochran, Cara (Jeff) Oswald, Lisa (James) Hills, Tina (Joseph) Gallante; and their children, Ted Hull, Robert Hull, Heather Jarous, Leann Jarous, Jeffrey Oswald, Kyle Oswald, Leah Harper, Nicole (Coco) Gallante and Antonio Gallante. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leah Tobia Joseph and John Joseph; brothers, William, Edward and Yusef Joseph; sisters, Edna Joseph, Helen Shaheen Lawry and Mary Sinclair; and nephews, John Joseph and Joseph Harper.
Ray was born in Lansing on January 21, 1924. Upon losing his mother at age six, he and his little brother, Harry, were placed in a Lansing Children’s Home. At 12 he moved to Flint to live with his sister, Helen Shaheen. A large circle of aunts and uncles provided family support, and Ray remained a devoted member of a large Lebanese family. Ray graduated from Flint Northern High School in 1943 and was drafted into the infantry at the height of World War II. His test scores placed him into Officer Training for the Army Air Corps at 18, where he trained as a bombardier for the 8th Air Force in the European Theater. Lieutenant Joseph flew 35 missions over Germany on B17 and B24 heavy bombers from his Debach, England base; after which he was posted to the 13th Wing Headquarters in Framlingham, England, first as an aide and later as Assistant Bombing Officer to U.S. Brigadier General Harold Q. Huglin, Deputy Commander of the Eighth Air Force. He received a host of commendations and medals. Joseph kept in touch with his entire crew over the years and attended several 8th Air Force reunions over the years. After the war, Ray completed an accelerated university program in which he earned an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University in only five years. Upon graduation he began a clerkship with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Leland Carr while opening his Lansing law practice. He was a fixture in the Lansing legal community for over 50 years. A trial lawyer par excellence, he established a reputation for thorough trial preparation and achieved just resolutions for countless individuals and businesses within and without the community. Ray’s love of the classical arts began early in his life. Although not a trained musician, he loved classical music and opera. Based in London during the war, Ray took multiple military leaves to hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and concerts in other venues. During his life in Lansing, Ray was an avid supporter of both performance and visual arts. He served as President of the Board of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra (1967-69), and is often credited with bringing a mid-size town orchestra from relative obscurity into prominence during the years when Dr. A. Clyde Roller conducted. He served as director of the Lansing Opera Guild and helped to build a following for opera in mid-Michigan. He relished opportunities to lead the Symphony and the Lansing Concert Band as guest conductor after winning the honor at auction fundraisers. Ray began collecting art as a young adult and focused his attention on local artists. His home became a veritable museum of art produced in Michigan, as he supported the work of aspiring young artists as well as established ones. His personal stories of the art works, artists, and circumstances of their meeting color the memories of most pieces in his collection. In addition to music and art, Ray was a voracious reader of the great classics of literature. He especially admired Tolstoy and war historian Barbara Tuchman, and was widely read in world and American literature. Even as his vision diminished, Ray passed many hours listening to books on tape, and would rally for any discussion of art, music, or literature. Ray was a staunch liberal in the best traditions of that word: one who is tolerant of others, favors reforms that extend democracy, and gives generously of time and treasure. He was active in Democratic Party politics at all levels and a longtime advocate and advisor for local office seekers. He continued supporting and advising Michigan candidates up until the time of his death. Ray will be remembered for his large spirit. His East Lansing home was a welcoming destination for artists, musicians and politicians. Many of the guest artists of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra were hosted there, including Van Cliburn. Many other artists, conductors and opera stars were guests. His home was also the site of frequent fundraisers for political candidates, and he entertained high ranking officials including U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil, U.S. Senator Morris Udall, U.S. Senator Don Riegle, and U.S. Congressman Bob Carr. He was especially proud of photographs and personal correspondence from Presidents John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama; First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Carter aides Ham Jordan and Jody Powell. After earning a reputation as one of Lansing’s most eligible bachelors, Ray was married to the love of his life, his legal colleague and soulmate, Mary Elizabeth Low, in 2011. Throughout their 30 year relationship, they enjoyed entertaining many loving friends and a wide circle of legal, musical, artistic and political admirers. During their marriage, their home served as a gathering place where different segments of the community came together to enjoy good food, good times and a meeting of the minds. Ray was a contemporary embodiment of the Renaissance Man: curious about everything; not easily led by ideology, but seeking truth wherever it led; and a kind and generous soul who made the world a better place just by being here. He will be forever missed by his wife Mary, children Gina and Mark, extended family, and the many friends he made over a long and fulfilling life.
A funeral service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2014, at River Terrace Church, 1509 River Terrace Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823, with The Rev. Clayton Libolt and The Rev. Kenneth Bieber officiating. A graveside service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids. The family will receive friends at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel from 2:00 – 4:00 and 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, and one hour prior to the funeral service at the church on Thursday.