George Henry Czerwonka Sr.
April 18, 1920 — Jan. 4, 2016
George Henry Czerwonka, 95, went to the Lord peacefully on January 4, 2016, surrounded by his loving family while at home in Oconomowoc.
He was born on April 18, 1920, on the Czerwonka farm in Sharon Township (Rosholt), the son of Joseph He attended St. Adalbert’s Catholic Elementary School and Rosholt public schools. He enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937 serving as assistant foreman in the Forestry Department at Camp Blue Lake. He was discharged in 1939 to attend the Chicago Aircraft Institute (later to become Illinois Institute of Technology), and graduated with a certificate in aircraft metal design and fabrication. He went to work at Empire Metal Products in Chicago, where he met and married the love of his life, Barbara Firkus of Plover, on February 22, 1941. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1944 and served as a proud “Airedale” on the USS Charger (CV-30), leading a firefighting team during launch and recovery air operations during World War II.
George worked in many roles to support his growing family of 14 children. After the war, George started a tavern business in Watertown serving returning veterans; moved to farming in Portage County; then moved on to Rockford Screw Products as a machinist (tool and die maker); and finished his career as the lead manufacturing and plant Millwright at American Motors/Chrysler in Milwaukee.
He was very active in the education of his family and served as co-president of the PTA at Sacred Heart School. After his retirement in 1983, George and Barbara settled in Fox Lake becoming snow birds visiting children and grandchildren from Florida to California each year. When the driving became too much for him, they moved to Lake Arrowhead near Wisconsin Rapids where he enjoyed visits from their large extended family. He loved to play cribbage, polka dance and garden. He loved watching the Packers and Brewers games with Barbara.
George is survived by his children Patricia (Matthew) Formanek of Greenfield; George (Sharon) Czerwonka Jr. of Spokane, Wash.; Robert (Ann) Czerwonka of Cameron Park, Calif.; Geri (the late Daniel) Ploch of Watertown; Dotti (the late Dennis) Plantz of Wisconsin Rapids; Carl (Cathy) Czerwonka of Delafield; Rod (Louann) Czerwonka of Batavia, Ill.; Jeffery (Cynthia) Czerwonka of Jefferson, Ga.; Anita (George) Muckerheidi of Adell; Susan (Thomas) Bandle of Eau Claire; Rene (David) Schneider of Oshkosh; 33 grandchildren; 69 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandson; and many nieces, nephews and other relatives.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Barbara; children Joseph Michael, Angela Mary and Gregory Allen; and brothers and sisters Maximillian, Cornelia, Sophia, Leander, Delores and Baby Czerwonka.
His funeral Mass will be celebrated by Rev. Fr. Gregory Michaud at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church, Rosholt, at 10:30 AM on January 12. The chapel will open at 9:00 AM for visitation. His burial will follow in the church cemetery.
George’s lifetime membership with the Knights of Columbus, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars included many charitable works. Donations can be made in his memory to the Wounded Warrior Project. (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org) Pagenkopf Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, call 262-567-4457 or visit www.pagenkopf.com.