Hernikl went peacefully to his Savior on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, while at his
store, Johnís Decorators in West Bend. Alex
was born on June 12, 1944, to the late John and Maria (nee Varga) Hernikl near
Budapest, Hungary. In his early more carefree days, Alex loved spending his
summers near Lake Balaton pitching hay and riding horses bareback.
By 1956, however, Alex and his parents were prominent freedom fighters. An
arrest warrant was issued for Alexís family on Nov. 20. They were warned by
the officer serving the warrant because they had saved him during the Holocaust.
Alex said they had five minutes to leave the country with just the shirts on
their backs. Alexís family traveled 100 miles in 27 hours ... partly through
an icy swamp.
At age 12, Alex and his family boarded a Flying Tiger with about 100 Hungarian
refugees. They were low on fuel during a snowstorm and about to land in New
Jersey on Christmas Eve. Alex said, ďAll the runway lights were covered in
snow, so attendants working on the ground pulled all of the emergency vehicles
out and turned on the lights. Once we broke through the clouds, all we could see
were these rotating beacons. It was a sight Iíll never forget.Ē And he never
Alex arrived speaking no English and was automatically put back a grade in
school. Due to his previous survival experiences, Alex said he was quick to
anger and hit out.
Alex went to Madison to become an electrical engineer. His failing eyesight
required a change in direction so he attended the Chicago School of Design and
the Harvard Graduate School of Design and was a member of A.S.I.D.
By the 1970s, Alex expanded Johnís Decorators to include a showroom with
furniture and accessories while
making high-end draperies. In semi-retirement, Alex truly enjoyed designing and
crafting a variety of wooden items. Alex lived a life of service Ö to his God,
family, friends, and community. He was a devoted Catholic attending Holy Angels
regularly. Most of his life was spent working with or caring for his parents.
Friends received skilled and willing help. As a young man, he belonged to
Jaycees and even helped start the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County. He
worked as a Red Cross volunteer and trainer. Recently he was honored for his 30
years of volunteer service to the West Bend Police Department from 1984-2014.
For almost 15 years, Alex volunteered with Mary at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm
Grove where their favorite activity was taking tickets.
Alex is survived by his beloved life partner, Mary Sparks; his honorary family,
Allen and Louise Schut, Lindy, Andrew and John, and dear friends Rev. James and
Mary Booker; and many relatives and friends in Hungary, the Netherlands and the
A Memorial Mass will be held on Wednesday, March 11, at 2 p.m. at Holy Angels
Catholic Church in West Bend. Visitation will be at the church from 1 p.m. until
the time of Mass. The Rev. Jerry Brittain will be the celebrant. Burial of his
cremated remains will be in St. Maryís Cemetery at a later date.
Please consider memorials to
Holy Angels School Trust Fund.
Alex, a good man who loved deer hunting Ö even early on Saturday mornings in
front of the TV while feet up in the recliner with a perfect cup of coffee. My
cherished partner. I love you forever, Mary.
Myrhum-Patten Funeral & Cremation Services of West Bend is assisting the
family. Online condolences may be expressed at www.myrhum-pattern.com.