Farmington Hills philanthropist Ray Okonski dies

Longtime Farmington Hills philanthropist Ray Okonski died November 12 at Beaumont Farmington Hills Hospital.

Ray OkonskiHe was 95 and had been in declining health for some time.

Okonski and his late wife, Suzanne, created a foundation that channeled thousands of dollars into scholarships, cultural and Catholic organizations, and schools. A Hills resident for more than 40 years, he was a member of the Xemplar Club, American Legion, VFW, and many Polish cultural organizations.

The foundation supported the Farmington Community Library’s annual Teen Writing Competition. Okonski first suggested the event as an opportunity for teens to hone their writing and speaking skills.

In 2017, the University of Michigan honored Okonski as its “Veteran of the Day” for a September game, and he served as Grand Marshal for the Polish Day parade in his hometown of Hamtramck.

Farmington Public Schools during the 2014-2015 school year named Okonski a “Senior Extraordinaire,” honoring his contributions to the district.

The City of Farmington Hills produced a video profile in which Okonski shares his life story and talks about his philanthropic efforts:

Born June 11, 1926, to the late Stanley and Sophie (Szczniak) Okonski and was a proud 1944 graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. During his service in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946, he received Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.

Okonski earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial-Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration at the University of Michigan. His long career in engineering earned him executive positions with several companies before he retired in 2000.

Ray married Suzanne Marie Sloat on March 25, 1990, at the Detroit Golf Club. She preceded him in death on August 13, 2014. Survivors include his devoted caregivers, goddaughter Susan Walkowiak and her husband, Dennis of Dearborn Heights, a family of loving cousins and many friends.

Dates for a funeral service and visitation are pending. Learn more at

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