Raymond Paul Kostyack, 92, died peacefully on February 22, 2019. Mildred Kostyack, his wife of 61 years, was at his side.
Raymond (“Ray”) was born in 1926 in rural Ginter, Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a coal miner. Ray always joked that he took violin lessons when he was a boy only because his teacher’s home was the only one in town with an indoor toilet. In 1938 when Ray was 12, his family was driven by the Great Depression to Linden, New Jersey. He started working at age 12, setting up the pins at the local bowling alley to contribute to the family income. Ray pitched for the Linden High School baseball team and worked for a local inventor who innovated with steam energy. The inventor was so impressed by Ray’s intellect that he offered to pay his way through college. World War II took precedence. In 1943, Ray graduated from high school early and immediately enlisted. The Navy wanted his rare understanding of steam energy. They put Ray in charge of operating the steam heating system on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific theater.
After the war, Ray set up his first business, a food truck on the premises of the U.S. Gypsum factory in Clark. From that, he opened Rose’s Bakery, named after his beloved mother. His next venture was a diner on St. Georges Avenue in Rahway. By 1959, Ray had worked his way up to launch his restaurant and catering business, Raymond’s of Westfield. His delicious food was served in downtown Westfield and at catered private and corporate events. For the next 35 years, Raymond’s of Westfield was his pride and joy. Ray became a fixture in the Westfield community, catering weddings, hosting business meetings, and providing jobs for hundreds of local residents (including his four kids!) and building many lifelong friendships.
The other great source of happiness in Ray’s life was his wife Millie. They met in the late 1940s in their hometown of Linden. Their families were already acquainted: Ray’s sister had just married Millie’s brother. Ray was so smitten with Millie that he would fly his airplane to visit her at college in Albany, NY. He flew to her summer job in the Adirondack Mountains, he said, to discourage her other suitors. Ray and Millie married in 1957 and raised their four children in Clark.
Ray loved to play tennis and met many of his best friends at the Westfield Tennis Club, where Ray served as president. He also built friendships and contributed to the community through his membership at St. Helen’s church in Westfield. After his retirement, Ray enjoyed tennis, hiking, bicycling, and volunteering. He and Millie took trips to countries around the world along with regular winter getaways to Marco Island, Florida and summer vacations in the Adirondacks with their children, grandchildren and extended family. His major retirement project was his professional renovation of the soup kitchen at St. Joseph’s Social Service Center in Elizabeth, named the Kostyack kitchen in honor of his efforts.
Ray is survived by his wife Millie, his four children, Maureen, Ray, John and Nancy, seven grandchildren, his beloved sisters Gerry and Lorraine, and many other loving relatives and friends.
A memorial is being planned for early April. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ray's memory to St. Joseph’s Social Service Center in Elizabeth https://www.sjeliz.org/donate.html or mailed to St. Joseph's Social Service Center, 118 Division St., Elizabeth, NJ 07201.