Lessel “Ray” Raymond Preston

Lessel “Ray” Raymond Preston, passed away Saturday, November 3, 2018. He was born in Detroit May 26, 1929 to Floyd and Ruby (Ellis) Preston and lived most of his life in the Onaway area. As a young man he and Les Price spent some time on Drummond Island cutting logs of white birch to sell to a novelty shop in Cheboygan. At the age of 16 he worked on a farm and at 17 years old he enlisted in the Army and served in the military police.  

On November 4, 1950, Ray married Susie Porter, the daughter of Clara and E.L. Porter. For three years they lived in Juddville where Susie taught school and Ray worked at Fisher Body.  But missing “the North” they moved back to Onaway. Ray was a member of the bricklayers’ union in Alpena and was hired in 1953 to help with the building of Stoneport. Ray started a small business called “Cabin Patrol” where he gave protection and security to cabin owners in remote areas.  

Ray was always concerned about young people. He started the Onaway Junior Rifle Club to teach gun safety and sportsmanship to local teenage boys and girls. They had a shooting range in the basement of the courthouse and at one time had 110 members. The club competed at a shoot in Marquette, many of them taking home trophies, which was quite an accomplishment for the little town of Onaway. They also had a turkey shoot held during the Onaway Fourth of July celebration.

Ray was the chief of police in Onaway for many years with Newt Chapman as his deputy.  Through the years many young men have thanked Ray for setting them on the right path during their younger years. When Ray became chief of police there wasn’t ambulance service in Onaway. Cheboygan had the nearest ambulance service owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ireland. Ray, with the permission of the Onaway City Commission, had the idea of starting an ambulance service in Onaway which would include the surrounding townships. He met with the townships and they all agreed to donate money to get an ambulance program started. Carlton Fusee donated a station wagon and after many hours of hard work, Bud Leach turned it into the first Onaway ambulance. There was no charge for the service; payment was by donations.

Ray left the city of Onaway Police Department in 1969 and went to work at the Walter and May Reuther Family Education Center at Black Lake where he started his own security company and worked there until his retirement in 1995. Ray loved the outdoors and did his share of fishing and hunting. He spent many hours with his family enjoying the outdoors and playing cards.                  

Surviving Ray is his wife of 68 years, Susie Preston; his children, Raymond Preston, Linda (Jerry) Keating and Loraine Preston, all of Onaway. Ray also leaves his grandchildren, Bradley Keating, Evan and Amanda (DeMaestri) Keating, Seth Keating, Jimmy and Blaine (Griffin) Preston, Luke and Heather (Schoolcraft) Preston, Rachel (Preston) and Cory Lamming, and Silas Preston; great-grandchildren, Gabby Preston, Rhyan Keating and Wyatt Keating; as well as his brothers, Sidney (Nancy) of Onaway and Homer of Millersburg; sister-in-law, Grace Preston of Onaway; and many close and loving nieces and nephews. Ray was preceded in death by brothers, Forest “Red,” Don, Lyle and Jerry Preston; and a sister, Glenda Turcott.

It was Ray’s wish that there be no funeral or memorial service following his death. His family will honor him privately. Ray’s final resting place will be at Hillcrest Cemetery in Onaway. Cremation arrangements were in care of the Chagnon Funeral Home.