Edward W. Becker

June 4, 1915 - Jan. 31, 2008

Edward William Becker, 92, died Jan. 31, 2008, at AngelsGrace Hospice in Oconomowoc.

Ed was born June 4, 1915, in Waukesha. He attended school at St. Aloysius and later became a machinist at Allis Chalmers, where he worked for 40 years. On May 7, 1938, he married his childhood sweetheart, Kathleen Henrietta Hoffman. Ed and Kathleen (whom he affectionately called "Katz") were married for 69 years and have four children, Ron (Mary) Becker, Sue (Harry) Bielinski, Cheryl (Joe) Richter and Tina (Dennis) Brand. Ed is also survived by his brother, Richard; sisters, Audrey Wright, Marianne Wren, Eleanore Aski and Evelyn Buettner; grandchildren, Jeff (Laura) Becker, Christine (Mark) Portz, Nick Becker, David Bielinski, Giorgio Bielinski, Ann Bielinski, Kathy Richter, Christopher Richter, Dan Brand and Jamie (Kevin) Mies; and nine great-grandchildren and numerous other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Ann (nee McHalsky) Becker; brothers, George and Robert; sister, Caroline Steger; and grandson, Guy Michael Bielinski.

Ed loved to go dancing - especially polka dancing - and take long walks with his wife, Kathleen. He also enjoyed playing cards with his friends and family, particularly sheepshead. His favorite TV show was "Wheel of Fortune," and no one could solve a "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle faster than he could. He had such a strong ear for music that he taught himself to play the organ and guitar, and he passed this passion for music down to several of his grandchildren.

Ed loved the outdoors and had great respect for nature and the environment. He knew the names of just about every different flower, tree and animal in Wisconsin, and he could describe their habitats, or predators or life cycles as well as any encyclopedia could. He could identify every bird by its call. He was also passionate about American Indian history and craftsmanship. Ed built canoes from birch bark, made moccasins from deer skin and crafted snowshoes with rawhide that was cut into strips and woven into a web. He learned his canoe-building craft from the Indians of the Great Lakes, and he passed this skill on by donating several canoes to the Milwaukee Public Museum and to Lake Itasca, Minn. He was meticulous and perfectionistic about his work and its authenticity, and he was instrumental in keeping this lost art of canoe-building alive.

Ed also enjoyed fishing, hunting with a bow and arrow, and canoeing, especially on Horicon Marsh. He lived his life according to a simple philosophy that he wrote about in the margins of a book on Indian Pioneer and Home Tanning Methods: "Maybe many of us should look at their way of living and try to think of better ways to keep the world from being spoiled."

When his children and grandchildren were young, Ed loved playing with them, teaching them about nature, taking them camping and digging for arrowheads, and cheering them on at every concert, sports event, recital and graduation. Ed could build anything, fix anything and find the humor in anything. He loved his family and would drop whatever he was doing to help them out whenever they needed him.

Ed had an enormous love of adventure that took him freight hopping across the country when he was a teenager, and later, to the Grand Canyon, to Austria to learn about his ancestors, and on a six-week trip to the Alaskan wilderness. Ed was the toughest person we have ever known. He was so strong that those who loved him thought he would somehow outlive us all. We will miss him greatly.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Ed’s name may be directed to ProHealth Home Care and Hospice, c/o Waukesha Memorial Hospital Foundation, 725 American Ave., Waukesha, WI 53188, and are greatly appreciated, as the staff at AngelsGrace treated Ed with profound care and respect during his final days.

Family services for Ed will be held today, Feb. 4, 2008, and entombment will take place at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008.

Church and Chapel Funeral Home - on the Web at www.churchandchapel.com or by phone at 827-0659 - is serving the family.