Obituary for Charles E. Sobkowiak

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Charles Edward Sobkowiak
Charles E. Sobkowiak, 84, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Charles “Charlie” was born November 17, 1934, in Stoddard, WI, the seventh of 13 children born to Walter and Lillian (Mlsna) Sobkowiak.
Charlie loved family – all his best friends were his brothers, sisters and in-laws. He told stories of how they used to make ice off the river in winter when they lived in Stoddard and prayed the Rosary on Sundays when they could not get to church. When he was eight, the Sobkowiak family moved to Sand Lake Coulee in Onalaska to a house that had electricity. He talked about helping his family raise dairy cows and pigs and tend a big garden. On Fridays, they butchered chickens and harvested vegetables for the weekend farmers market. As a brother left for the service, the next in line stepped up to run the farm, which Charlie did after completing 8th grade.
Charlie was one of seven Sobkowiak brothers who joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He served from 1952 to 1955, spoke of transporting Korean prisoners of war, and was later stationed in Japan. He was awarded the National Defense Medal, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal.
He met the love of his life, Joyce Crook in 1952 at the Avalon Ballroom. They married on February 1, 1956. Together, they were a great team. They raised four children – Sandra, Karen, Paul and Chad. Charlie was a devoted husband, and in Joyce’s later years was her caregiver and visited her daily at the Onalaska Care Center until she passed in March of 2013.
Charlie was a hard worker, holding two jobs throughout his life. His true profession was as a carpenter, which he did during the day and on weekends. He remodeled basements, built sunrooms, decks, and houses. He built each of the four homes he and Joyce shared over their lifetime. When younger, he was the working partner of Tri-State Roofing. In the early 60s, he got a job as a machinist at The Trane Company where he worked second shift at Plant 6 until he retired in 1998.
Charlie loved to garden. Still thinking in big quantities, he planted rows of sweet corn and had a big berry patch. He shared the bounty with everyone. He was always scouting the roadsides and woods for abandoned apple trees and wild blackberries. It wasn’t unusual for him to come to a gathering bearing homemade raspberry jam or rhubarb crunch. He burned wood for heat, and spent many hours making wood with his brother-in-law, Tom Pierce, and later his son, Paul.
He was a regular with the Thursday morning breakfast group that met at Jacqlon’s in Holmen, helped prep fish for the St. Pat’s Friday Fish Fries during Lent, and made many friends along the way. He was always busy, there was never a need to wait and do something later that could be done now. For fun, he liked to ride the bus to the Casino to pay Black Jack. He always seemed to come out ahead.
Charlie is survived by his daughters Sandra Dennis and Karen Helgerson; sons Paul (Jane Brockway) Sobkowiak and Chad Sobkowiak; grandchildren Lynn, Landon and Laura Helgerson, Trevor and Gracie Sobkowiak, and Daniel (Valerie) Dennis; and great granddaughter Asher Helgerson. Charles is also survived by brothers Aloysious (Mary), Robert, Daniel (Margie), Ronald (Sally), Bernard (Deb), Dennis (Linda), and Donald Sobkowiak; sisters Irene Hauser, Dorothy Pierce and Anne (Robert) Manuel; and sister-in-law Irene Sobkowiak.
Charlie was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Joyce; parents Walter and Lillian Sobkowiak; sister Bernadine; brother James Sobkowiak; brothers-in-law Eugene Hauser and Thomas Pierce; sister-in-law Patricia Sobkowiak; and son-in-law George Dennis.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 1031 Main Street, Onalaska, at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29th. Visitation will be at the church beginning at 10 a.m. A lunch will follow at the American Legion, Post 336, 731 Sand Lake Road, Onalaska. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials be made in Charlie’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.