WAKEFIELD, Mich. - Joseph John Blaskowski, 92, of Wakefield, passed away peacefully Saturday morning, April 26, 2014, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born on March 18, 1922, in Wakefield, the son of direct Polish immigrants, Frank and Pearl (Maciejewski) Blaskowski. Joe attended Wakefield High School. Just prior to World War II, he worked locally in the Civilian Conservation Corps and at local timber logging companies. Joe entered the U.S. Army in November 1942, serving in the Asia-Pacific Theater with Company A, 389th Infantry 98th Division, and was honorably discharged in January 1946.
Joe was a life member and past commander of the Wakefield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9084 (he was enlisted in their famed "Polish Firing Squad"); and a devoted member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
Joe accrued 39 years working as a miner on numerous underground and open pit iron ore mines of the Gogebic, Penokee and Mesabi (Erie Mining Co ., 1954-1960) ranges. Work interruptions due to either mine labor strikes (or mine seasonal closings) were filled with a variety of brief job excursions to Detroit (Detroit Stampings, Tru-All Construction Co.), Chicago (road construction) and Milwaukee (C & NW rail freight yards). Included were 26 years at White Pine Copper Company, from where he retired in October 1983.
He continued an actively engaged life for 40 more years. His passions were his family, fishing, gardening, polka music and dancing, and savoring Polish cuisine.
Diverse work venues and significant historical events (The Great Depression, WWII, post-war economic boom times and the harsh mining environments) enriched his life experiences and reinforced his trademarks of compassion and respect for others, whether they were family, acquaintances or strangers. His gift was that he loved and was loved well. His integrity, sense of humor and laughs were a contagious, best medicine for people whom he encountered. Joe astounded those who were fortunate to listen to his amazingly detailed recall ability of a mix of mostly hilarious, some somber, and a few tragic stories about a seemingly endless cast of colorful characters, their personalities, the events and scenarios. Joe periodically reminded us that "it is later than you think it is." He will be dearly missed.
Joe is survived by a son, Robert, Wakefield; a daughter, Jane (Russell) George, Gilbert, Minn .; a grandson, Luke George, Duluth, Minn .; a granddaughter, Erin (Jeff) Shay, Hibbing, Minn .; two great-granddaughters, Isabella and Addison Shay; two sisters, Verna (Charles) Urbanski, Wakefield, and Eleanor (Peter) Kurtenbach, Budd Lake, N.J .; a dear friend, Lillian Dellich, Hurley, Wis .; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Walter, Edward, John and Chester; and three sisters, Stella (Ray) Budgick, Mary (Mike) Manners and Helen (Elmer) Weidner.
The family will greet relatives and friends on Wednesday, April 30, from 10 to 10:45 a.m ., at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Wakefield, with the honor guard beginning at 10:15 a.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will follow the visitation at 11 a.m ., with the Rev. Antony Lukka as celebrant.
Following the Mass, military rites will take place at the church under the auspices of the Wakefield American Legion Geroux Post 11 and the Wakefield VFW Post 9084 Honor Guard.
Lunch will be served at the Wakefield VFW Post 9084 following the military honors.
Pallbearers will be Luke George, George Sailer, Jeff Shay, Mike Johnson, Mike Rydeski and Roger Ikola.
Interment will take place in Lakeside Cemetery, Wakefield, later this spring.
Lakeside Memorial Chapel of Wakefield is assisting the family. Condolences may be expressed online at lakesidememorialchapel.com.