Maplewood History: Adios Ray and Syl

Two Maplewood sons of note recently passed within a short time of each other. Ray Kennedy an accomplished jazz pianist and brother of Wanda Kennedy Kuntz, author of “Kennedy Music” was laid to rest this past week. I was not fortunate enough to ever meet Ray so I feel it would be inappropriate for me to say much about him. I am saddened by his untimely passing at age 58. I wish the best to all of his friends and family.

Editor: See also: 40 South News readers invited to Ray Kennedy memorial

Syl Beletz beat all expectations, no doubt. When he passed away in March he was working on his 99th year. Syl was a thrice decorated veteran of WWII, an author, an activist, a canoeist, a bicyclist, an inventor, a photographer and a caretaker of his parents when they could no longer care for themselves. In his working life he was a tool and die maker.

Many folks will recall seeing Syl, his older brother Frank (who passed away a few years back) and their younger brother, Al around south Maplewood on their recumbent bicycles. A bicyclist myself, we sometimes stopped to compare our machines.

I made a short video of Syl once on the parking lot at Quiktrip. He was reminiscing about searching for Amelia Earhart in the south Pacific during his Navy years. On another occasion he told me of a friend who lived at 3249 Walter who won the Irish sweepstakes. $28,000. Big money in the 1940’s.

Syl and Ray both accomplished much in their time here on the planet. They won’t soon be forgotten.

Syl Beletz in 2013.

Syl Beletz in 2013.

Syl is seated on the right somewhere in the south Pacific during WWII.

Syl is seated on the right somewhere in the south Pacific during WWII.

Syl's obituary from Stl Today.

Syl’s obituary from the Post-Dispatch.

Syl's brother, Al peddling Syl's invention, "The Sylvester Peddler" in 1975.

Syl’s brother, Al peddling Syl’s invention, “The Sylvester Peddler” in 1975.

An aerial view of  the Maplewood church of the Immaculate Conception.  Taken by Syl with a Graflex Camera from their Funk aircraft.

An aerial view of the Maplewood church of the Immaculate Conception. Taken by Syl with a Graflex Camera from their Funk aircraft.

The back of the previous photo.

The back of the previous photo.  I wonder if he got that camera at Harper’s Photo?

Brother Al in 2013.  Al is the last of the Beletz boys.  He is a very interesting fellow.  By all means talk with him if you get a chance.  He and his two brothers Frank and Syl are and were expert canoeists.  They are the authors of two books, "Canoe Poling" and Canoeing god's gifts".  I have checked these books out from the Maplewood Public Library in the past.

Brother Al in 2013. Al is the last of the Beletz boys. He is a very interesting fellow. By all means talk with him if you get a chance. He and his two brothers, Frank and Syl are and were expert canoeists. They are the authors of two books, “Canoe Poling” and Canoeing God’s Gifts”. I have checked these books out from the Maplewood Public Library in the past.

There is much to be found online about these three fascinating guys including videos of Frank and Syl talking about their experiences during WWII.  this article from the Oklahoman magazine gives you an inkling of the sort of life these fellows led.

There is much to be found online about these three fascinating guys including videos of Frank and Syl talking about their experiences during WWII. This article from the Oklahoman magazine gives you an inkling of the sort of life these fellows led.

I only spoke with Frank once that I can recall.  As his obituary makes clear, it is my loss.

I only spoke with Frank once that I can recall. As his obituary makes clear, it is my loss.

One thought on “Maplewood History: Adios Ray and Syl

  1. Thanks, as always for the history and interesting people in Maplewood, MO.