Our dad, grandpa, great-grandpa, uncle, Ute tailgater, golf buddy, dance partner, bowling teammate and all-around generous, witty man Raymond F. Otanez (born Ramón Francisco Otañez) died on May 4, 2022, in Taylorsville, Utah. He was 87 and surrounded to the end by the family who cherished him even as dementia took him farther and farther away from us.
Ray was born on Nov. 28, 1934, in Grantsville, Utah, to Ramón Otañez and Josefa Vasquez Otañez, Mexican immigrants to the United States who helped build the railroad in the early 1900s. Ray was proud of his history and told stories of growing up on the Salt Flats and the west side of Salt Lake City, dirt poor and adventurous. He loved his family and made sure his children spent time with his parents and his grandmother, Jesusita Otañez, whom he called Machita and we all called Grandma ‘Chita. Sofia Martínez Otañez, his stepmother, was also an important person in his life and therefore in ours.
Our beloved, hard-working man was a quality-control technician at Hercules in Magna for 34 years. He also worked nights, loading and unloading trucks at Whitfield’s for a number of years. After he retired from Hercules, he worked at Costco handing out samples. Late in life, he enjoyed working with his sister-in-law and nephew as a social services liaison and informal Spanish translator in the West Jordan court system. He was proud of his time in the military, serving in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1956. West High School should have his name on a wall somewhere–he was a devoted Panther, class of 1954.
If you knew Ray, you knew his love of life and laughter. His bright, open smile broadcast this about him. His wife, Sylvia K. Otanez, who preceded him in death in 2007, told the story of seeing him when she was on the bus in downtown Salt Lake in the 50s. She peered out the window and saw a handsome, brown man flashing his brilliant smile at her and something clicked. They were married 49 years before Sylvia died.
Ray is the last of his brothers and sisters to pass. Frank died as a child. Lupe, Faye, Alice, Hope, Ralph and Henry preceded him in death through the years. His father, mother and stepmother are also gone. We imagine them together, with our mom and her siblings, laughing and having a good time, como siempre.
There isn’t enough space to relate the enormity of influence Ray had in our lives. His deep sense of responsibility and zest for life meant his children, Leslee, Andrea and Christopher, grew up loved, protected and exposed to many adventures, including road trips in the Chevy II and Four Winds camper, and always big family parties with cousins upon cousins and some of the best chile verde in all of Salt Lake City. Raypa, as his grandchildren call him, took care of every one of his seven grandchildren and most of his 13 great grandchildren at one point or another, happily feeding them dippy eggs, driving them to school and practices, and videotaping hours-long dance recitals and football games. A granddaughter who died at birth in 2019 preceded Ray in death.
Ray loved jazz and dancing. Once the music started, he couldn’t help but put out his hand for a dance partner. Salud, dad. This ice cold Olympia is for you. We love you.
Please join us to celebrate his life with a viewing on Thursday, May 12, 2022 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Memorial Redwood Mortuary.
Another viewing will take place on Friday, May 13, 2022 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, following the service to end at 12:00 PM at Memorial Redwood Mortuary.
Internment will ensue at Memorial Redwood Cemetery.
Streaming services will be available using the below link: