Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Thomas E. 'Tom' Popko Jr.

Hurley, Wis. - Thomas E. "Tom" Popko Jr., 91, of Hurley, passed away Jan. 7, 2020, at Villa Maria Nursing Home in Hurley after a brief illness.

Tom was the eldest of nine children, born May 30, 1928, to Thomas Sr. and Anna (Fudaley) Popko at the family home in Oma, Wis. He attended Oma State Grade School and graduated from J. E. Murphy High School in Hurley in 1947. He worked in the logging business with his dad, Tom Popko Sr and uncle, John Popko. He enlisted in the U. S. Army and was stationed in Tokyo, Japan, where he served as an MP in the occupying forces.

It was in Japan where Tom met his future wife, Joan Beverly Houser. They married Sept. 6, 1953, at St. Mary's Church in Hurley. After their marriage, they lived in Fort Wayne, Ind. for a short time; and then returned to Wisconsin and purchased a home in Oma where they lived their whole lives and raised their two children.

Tom spent most of his working career as a miner, working at both the Cary Iron Ore Mine and the White Pine Copper Mine. Tom also worked at various positions for the Wisconsin Conservation Department (DNR) and most recently as a Crew Leader for the Wisconsin Conservation Corps. He loved gardening, trapping, hunting, and fishing and enjoyed spending time on Lake Superior on his boat, Jo-To. Tom was an active participant in local politics, serving on both the Oma Town Board and the Iron County Board of supervisors.

He is survived by his two children, daughter, Tamara Moore (William), Glidden, Wis. and son, Timothy (Christine) Popko, Ironwood, Mich .; grandson, Kristian Popko, Ironwood, Mich .; brothers, Donald Popko (Rita), Punta Gorda, Fla., Gordon Popko (Sandy), of Wausau, Wis., and Michael Popko (Mary) of Saxon, Wis .; sisters, Mary Jane Begalle (Donald), Longmont, Colo. and Virginia Kroitzsh (Donald), Edgecomb, Neb .; sister-in-law, Pauline Popko, Marquette, Mich., and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Joan; his parents, Thomas and Anna; brothers, Eugene and John; and sister, Anna Mae Brockman and her husband, James.

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life will be celebrated at a later date.

Ketola–Burla Funeral Home is assisting the family. For more information or to express online condolences, please visit

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