Longtime businessman and community leader Ray Minchow was remembered this week as a man who would do anything for his town, loved and supported the youth of the community, was a quiet, behind-the-scenes worker and was a friend to everyone he met.
Minchow, 87, a 59-year member of the Lovell business community, died Sunday night at the Billings Clinic after suffering a series of strokes.
“He probably was one of the nicest guys in the whole community,” longtime friend Jeff Pearson said Tuesday. “I don’t think anybody didn’t like him. He was always involved (in the community), as far back as I can remember.”
Minchow helped start the Lovell Little League Baseball program and as a dedicated member of the American Legion, put up American flags on Main Street on patriotic days and decorated the graves of veterans at the Lovell Cemetery on Memorial Day for many years, Pearson said.
“He’s just been one of the structures of the community,” Pearson added. “He always participated in things.
“But the best thing was that he always had a smile on his face and was one of the friendliest people you’d want to meet. I really can’t say enough nice things about Ray. I played on the Minchow’s Little League team in the third grade.”
“He was a fixture,” Lovell mayor and longtime friend Bruce Morrison said. “He’s all about Lovell. He was very involved in the community. He was very involved in the Jaycees. He has always been a part of whatever was going on. He supported all the kids in the community, as well as his own kids and grandkids.
“I don’t think there was a better example of what community was all about.”
Morrison said Minchow’s good nature always made him approachable, no matter what a person wanted to talk about, and he knew how to get things done.
“He was open-minded and a good problem-solver,” Morrison said. “He served quietly. He made everything successful from the background. He was definitely Mr. Lovell.
“I don’t think there was anybody he didn’t like. He was one of those guys who treated everybody the same.”
Ray and Jackie Minchow moved to Lovell in 1953 after they found out about a Mobil station for sale, bringing young son Don with them. They bought the one-bay station, which was then located just to the west of the present station at Main and Oregon, and Michow’s Service was born.
The young family added Jim in 1954, Carol in 1956 and Lori in 1963.
Minchow’s was one of 14 stations or garages in the area that sold fuel, and the new station offered full-service gasoline sales, bulk delivery and automobile service. The current, larger station was built in 1957, and through hard work, long hours and excellent customer service, the station outlasted most of the competitors and became a fixture in the community.
Jim and Donna Minchow bought the station from his parents in 1991, expanded and added the convenience store, then opened Minchow’s Food Court in 1997, but Ray and Jackie have always continued to play an active role at the station, being there most days.
Throughout the years, Ray Minchow was a great supporter of youth sports in the Lovell and north Big Horn County community and as a World War II veteran, believed strongly in honoring local veterans. He also helped many a family during times of need.
“Ray helped mold and make the community what it is today,” Morrison said. “That’s a great legacy for him and his family.”
Added Pearson, “He was everybody’s friend. He was a very kind person.”
Services for Ray Minchow will be held Friday, June 15, at 2 p.m. at the Lovell High School Gymnasium, followed by a burial at the Lovell Cemetery with military honors. A viewing/visitation will be held tonight (Thursday) from 6-8 p.m. at Haskell Funeral Home.
By David Peck