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Raymond T. Starzmann, Ray, aka “Harry Truman,” age 73, died just before noon on
Wednesday, February 20, due to unexpected complications following surgery. He was
surrounded by love. Our hearts are broken but somewhere angels are being regaled
with stories by our singular friend.

Born December 8, 1945, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ray fully embraced the world
around him. He attended Girard College, an endowed boys boarding school in
Philadelphia, from age seven through high school. After graduation he worked at the
John Wannamaker Department Store in Philadelphia. Throughout his life he recalled
fond memories of growing up on the “Main Line,” visiting The Pennsylvania Academy of
Fine Arts and attending concerts at The Philadelphia Academy of Music featuring
Eugene Ormandy and the renown Philadelphia Orchestra.

From a young age, Ray began developing his lifelong passion for history, politics, and
the American Presidency. Ray corresponded with American political figures including
Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Adlai Stevenson, and numerous
others.

In 1965, with a scholarship to Park College, in Parkville, Missouri, Ray hopped on a
train to the Midwest, Truman country. There he earned a political science degree and
made many enduring friendships. Along the way venturing into Kansas City, Ray found
work in the restaurant business and became known as a gregarious and talented waiter.
His restaurant career spanned nearly thirty years and included long stretches at Max
Bretton’s, Nabil’s on the Plaza, The Painted Lady, and the Athena. In 1994 Ray got a
job at the bookstore at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where he remained until his
retirement in 2018.

In 1998 while employed at the Museum, Ray, a natural performer, found opportunities
to share his extensive knowledge and love of history with broad audiences by
performing as a presidential re-enactor largely focused on the history and life of Harry
S. Truman. Subsequently he added Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Theodore
Roosevelt and regional figures including William Rockhill Nelson to his repertoire.
A highlight of Ray’s reenacting career came in November 2017 when he was invited
to present at the Blair House 75th Anniversary Celebration with Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson in Washington D.C. Additionally, he made numerous appearances and
presented programs at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. He was also a
featured speaker on Kansas City Public Television’s “Meet the Past” with Crosby
Kemper III, in collaboration with the Kansas City Public Library.

Ray loved people and shone a bright light into the lives of so many. He is preceded in
death by his father, Philip, his mother, Edna (Varley) Starzmann, and brothers Jack and
Phillip. Ray is survived by a vast family of friends including his beloved godchildren
Ivanna and Oliver. We always said, "Ray never met a stranger" because upon meeting
him and spending time with him it is likely you consider him a friend too. In his memory,
you might reach out to an unfamiliar face with a warm smile, an easy joke, or a
welcoming handshake.

A Celebration of Life is being planned for spring 2019.
 
 
 
Truman-Roosevelt