Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Walter F. 'Wally' Maslanka

BESSEMER, Mich. - Walter F. "Wally" Maslanka, 88, of Bessemer, went home to Heaven to be with his Lord and Savior early Sunday morning, July 3, 2016, following a short struggle with cancer. He was surrounded by his loving wife and family.

Wally was born on June 30, 1928, in Bessemer, a son of Stanley and Bernice (Hlopek) Maslanka. He grew up in Bessemer and graduated from A.D. Johnston High School in 1946.

Wally proudly served his country in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Lee, Va., he was stationed in Japan at the end of World War II. Wally received the Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal.

Following his honorable discharge as a corporal on March 9, 1948, Wally returned to the area and worked in the Penokee Mine until its closure and then worked for many years at White Pine Copper Company. He retired in 1982.

On June 20, 1953, Wally was united in marriage to the love of his life, Dorothy Ann Kasmarick at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ironwood.

He will be remembered by his family and friends as a loving, caring and giving person, who never complained and was always willing to help others.

Wally started and ran the St. Vincent De Paul Store in Bessemer for seven years alone. He bought an old store and was able to obtain used radiators through a donation from the old Grand View Hospital that was being torn down. Wally built shelves and painted the entire store. Wally acquired the St. Sebastian pasty sale when the group was getting up in age. He took pleasure in running the program for 17 years.

Wally was a very active member of St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Bessemer. When St. Sebastian School closed, he assumed the duties as a server for countless Masses, was a lector, Eucharistic minister, usher and helped train each new priest.

Wally was very involved in the Bessemer community. When the Gogebic County Federal Credit Union was in need of assistance, he offered his services as an officer for 40 years. Wally was a faithful member of the Bessemer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3673, was post commander when the current facility was built, was a dedicated member of the honor guard for 38 years and assisted in running the Monday night Bingo. He was a third degree member of the Knights of Columbus since 1954.

In quiet times, when Wally would reminiscence with family and friends about his time in World War II, he shared a story about a Salesian Priest, who ran a very poor orphanage that had 292 children. The priest asked Wally if he could get some cookies and candy for the children at Christmas. Wally was able to convince the soldiers to pitch in, and they were able to fill two duffle bags with treats for the children. None of the soldiers wanted to deliver the treats. So Wally went and met with two young boys who had an old wagon and they all walked a mile to the orphanage to give out the treats. Wally was treated to a Christmas pageant as a thank you. He wanted to join the priests and help out more, but was told by his superiors he could not return there until he was discharged from the service. Wally never had the chance to go back. It was a special memory that always brought tears to his eyes.

Wally enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening, watching the Green Bay Packers on television, going to the casino and playing cribbage. His favorite pastime was polka dancing with his wife, Dorothy. They were known as the polka partners by their friends who could glide across the dance floor.

Wally is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Dorothy; four children, Doreen (Louis) Raykovich, Ironwood, Michael (Donna) Maslanka, Bessemer, Cecilia (Michael) Pisco, Ironwood, and Paula (Tom) VanKuiken, Lansing; seven grandchildren, Stephanie, Luka, Jill, John, Christie, Jennifer and Jamie; 12 great-grandchildren and two more expected in October 2016; five sisters, Irene Bonato, Ironwood, Katie (Bob) Metzner, Oconto Falls, Wis., Clare (Norb) Gross, Green Bay, Wis., Mary (Al) Sande, Waukesha, Wis., and Margie Taetsch, Iron River; numerous nieces and nephews; and a host of friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Helen Stanczak; and three brothers, John, Joseph Sr., and Edward Maslanka.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, July 8, at 11 a.m., preceded by visitation at 9:30 a.m., at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Bessemer, with the Rev. Dominic Agyapong, celebrant, assisted by Deacon Charles H. Gervasio. Also, in attendance will be members of the Pere Menard Assembly 471, Knights of Columbus, Fourth Degree Honor Guard.

Pallbearers will be Louis Raykovich, Michael Pisco, Tom VanKuiken, John Pisco, Eugene Benoit and Luka Raykovich.

Rite of Committal and interment will take place at Hillcrest Cemetery, Bessemer, with a military graveside service under the auspices of Bessemer American Legion Post 27 and Bessemer VFW Post 3673 Honor Guard.

Lunch will be served at Father Swoboda Hall at the church following the military honors.

The Maslanka family wishes to acknowledge and thank profoundly the wonderful doctors and staff at Aspirus Grand View Hospital in Ironwood. They are a truly remarkable group of people who treat everybody with dignity and respect in often trying circumstances. We are truly fortunate to have such a committed group of compassionate caregivers in our community.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner-manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield. Condolences may be expressed online at