February 6, 2021 – Kewaskum, WI – The communities of Kewaskum and West Bend are mourning following the death of long-time retired economics teacher Ray Engelking.
Engelking passed away on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at the age of 72.
The new twin high schools, West Bend East and West Bend West opened in fall of 1970. With that came a lot of newly hired teachers; one of them was a very young Ray Engelking, fresh from Indiana State University.
Engelking taught economics at West Bend West High School for 35 years, retiring in 2005.
Engelking Statement on the Killing of Ray Engelking
The Engelking family of Forest View Road in Kewaskum would like to provide this statement to address the public inquiries into the events of Wednesday February 4th, 2021. Our family has read the details of the Press Release prepared by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, and we want to affirm that the details contained therein are consistent with our understanding of what occurred at our family residence during the timeline set forth by law enforcement.
First of all, we want to thank local law enforcement for their respectful and thorough response to the assault, forced entry, and murder at our family residence by a previously unknown individual. We also want to extend our deepest condolences to the other families traumatized during these events; we join in their sorrow.
Secondly, we want to confirm that while protecting the security of Deborah Engelking—the mother to his three boys and grandmother to three girls —our “Papa,” Ray Leonard Engelking was indeed killed by a bullet fired during a violent confrontation with the intruder, who assaulted Mrs. Engelking.
She has not exhibited any lasting physical injury thus far, but the emotional wounds are considerable. Without hesitation, she handed over keys to her vehicle but it wasn’t enough. Similarly, Papa was an avid sportsman with deep reverence for life and commitment to research-backed gun safety measures.
He would have gladly relinquished every gun he owned if it meant preserving any life lost or traumatized that day. Tragically, our family has now joined a long-suffering group of families who have lost loved ones to the ongoing epidemic of gun violence. Despite all of this, and despite the constraints the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our interactions with loved ones, we are not giving into fear.
We are navigating difficult emotions at this time, but with the limited distance we currently have from the situation, our only regret is that the young white man who came rampaging through our peaceful neighborhood had not had the opportunity to sit for a semester in one of Mr. Engelking’s classes or spend a season with him on one of the many sports teams Papa coached in this community.
Sadly, the fugitive did not know a man who would have been willing to be a coach, teacher, or Big Brother to him or any individual navigating the struggles of poverty, addiction, or an otherwise troubled past. Papa compassionately practiced the Christian value of forgiving those who knew not what they were doing, and he labored for a criminal justice system that prepared and supported offenders to fully rejoin society as equal citizens. We have been disappointed by the lack of context in some of the responses expressed on our behalf by members in our community.
Frustratingly, the 72 bright years of our father’s life have been reduced politically to the circumstances of the last 5 minutes. Our family deeply believes in the transformational power of publicly accessible education to give people hope, support, and options in the midst of a challenging world. As the community mourns our loss at the hands of a manic individual, we hope they will also be aggrieved at the tragic and violent circumstances that originated in our community and set him on this course long before any confrontation with our neighborhood.
Like his personal hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Papa was convinced that in the presence of justice, a beloved community could create a “qualitative change in our souls and a quantitative change in our lives.” Finally, we request that our family be granted a generous time to grieve and process in private how our family can continue to carry on the heroic light Papa brought to each of our lives.