Sylvester Edwin Brokl
Dec. 31, 1920 — May 18, 2015
Sylvester Edwin Brokl passed away May 18, 2015. He was born Dec. 31, 1920. His parents had emigrated from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and New Year’s Eve was All Sylvester’s Eve in Europe, hence his name.
Sylvester Brokl was a proud WWII veteran, whose long life encompassed growing up on a farm in northern Wisconsin to spending retirement years in Oconomowoc. Loyalty to his wife and family, a commitment to hard work, and love of sports were the hallmarks of his life.
Sylvester was the youngest son of Anna and Jaroslav (Jerry) Brokl, and he grew up on their farm in Park Falls. His other siblings, who predeceased him, were Bess, Ann and Edward. Sylvester graduated from Park Falls High School and married Ruth Ware, his high school sweetheart, before enlisting in the Army. He was shipped overseas, and marveled that his unit was spared from participating in the invasion of mainland Japan by the H-bombs the U.S.
dropped, ending the war in the Pacific. He said that wartime experience was enough travel for his lifetime, and he never got on another plane or train.
His daughter, Patricia (Thomas Oswald), was born while he was overseas, Sally (Dale Miller) and Robert (Alfred Crofts) followed upon his return.
Sylvester’s humble background prepared him for his lifetime of hard work (which, coincidently, probably explains his long, healthy life). With three young children, and living on a farm with Ruth in Park Falls, he farmed, logged, hunted, trapped and fished. He milked the cow and made butter, they canned the food they grew to tide them through the winter, maple trees were tapped for syrup in the spring, water was pumped from the well and had to be heated on the wood stove for baths. The Thanksgiving turkey was bought live.
Patricia briefly attended the one-room schoolhouse nearby. But jobs were unavailable at the paper mill, the town’s biggest employer, and he and Ruth moved to southern Wisconsin, settling in Pewaukee.
He worked pouring concrete precast slabs for building facades for many years, supplementing with janitorial work at Gethsemane Methodist Church and the Barbara Sanborn Public Library in Pewaukee.
Sylvester and Ruth made their last move to a rustic home, on a creek and adjoining watershed, in Oconomowoc that Sally and Dale had found and lived in, where he continued to boat and fish. He’d ice-fished on Mendota Lake in Madison.
After the years of hunting and fishing, he developed a more nature-friendly attitude, even attending rallies in Madison against dove hunting. He was a longtime labor union member and he and Ruth followed politics as Democrats and pro civil rights.
But Sylvester’s passion was sports, either attending Braves and Brewers games with Ruth, or watching baseball, basketball and football games throughout the year. He was outgoing and social, with a distinctive wry and deadpan sense of humor that he enjoyed sharing with clerks and salespeople. His son inherited the same sense of humor, for which he has taken much ribbing.
When Ruth suffered but survived a devastating stroke, he rose to the occasion and was supportive for the decade she required in-home assistance. Elizabeth and Sigmund Wojtowiec, M.D., were the live-in angels who helped them, staying on to comfort and help Sylvester after Ruth passed away in 2011.
He is survived by his three children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A private memorial service for the family is planned for the summer.
Pagenkopf Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, call 262-567-4457 or visit www.pagenkopf.com.