Z. Ray Wakeman was born, Zdzislaw Yerzy Roslaniec, in Germany, of Polish-Russian ancestry, and is a direct descendant of the " Roseline." In 1938 his mother was taken prisoner from her family estate on the Vistula River in Poland, and transported by cattle train to Germany, to work as slave labor on a farm. In 1951, Z. Ray Wakeman, with his Mother and Stepfather immigrated to the U.S.A. Z. Ray grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where he he attended Northeast High School, University of Missouri KC and the Art Institute. During the VietNam war, Z. Ray was a US Army Combat Engineer Platoon Commander, in 1967-68. After returning from VietNam, Z. Ray worked as a lifeguard at Winnwood Lake in North Kansas City, and helped lay 24 miles of the first water line between Independence and Buckner Missouri.