Obituary for Al Norbert Sobkowiak

sign guestbook

Image of
Aloysius "Al" Sobkowiak, 88, of Onalaska, passed away Tuesday, October 15, 2019, peacefully at his home. He was born August 22, 1931 in Stoddard, WI, the fourth of 13 children to Walter and Lillian (Mlsna) Sobkowiak. In 1955, Al married Semiha Aksimit and together they had four children: Joseph, Lillian, Susan, and Fatima; they later divorced. In 2004, Al married Mary Washburn, and gained two step-daughters, Sara and Kari.
Starting in 1951, Al proudly served in the United States Marine Corps for 21 years, where he was best known as “Ski”. Captain Ski proudly exemplified the Mustang Heritage with his main responsibility as an Infantry Unit Leader. His duty assignments included Embassy Guard, Drill Instructor, Intelligence School Instructor, Military Police, Prison Guard, Infantry Training Instructor and two combat tours in Vietnam. He retired as decorated Marine Corps Captain in 1972 and had been the recipient of many medals and awards, including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with Combat V, and the Vietnam Service Medal. In addition, Al starred in a PBS documentary, ‘The Making of a Marine’. He was mighty proud of the movie and would freely share it with whoever expressed interest in the history of training Marine Corps troops. A “Marines’ Marine” is the term that best describes his storied career: “Once a Marine, always a Marine!”
Among Al’s numerous successes, he served as a Welfare Fraud Investigator for San Diego County, California, and was a graduate of National University where he received his Masters Degree.
Al very much enjoyed gardening, reading, riding around on his lawn mower, and feeding the birds. He was well-known for delivering his prized deviled eggs, raspberry jam, and jerky, which were always a special treat. Al especially loved spending time with his family and grandkids with whom he would freely share bits of advice like, ‘Whatever you can afford!’ and ‘One day at a time, Sweet Jesus!’. He was delighted to share countless stories and jokes along with vivid memories of growing up on the farm and of his military career. Al was a dedicated, lifetime American Legion member of Onalaska Post #336 and member of the Disabled American Veterans. He will be remembered by many as ‘Big Al’, the founder of Big Al’s Famous Chicken and Dumplings.
Al is survived by his wife, Mary Sobkowiak, his son Joseph (Terry) Sobkowiak, three daughters; Lilly (Mike) Kaiser, Susan (David) Estell and Fatima Sobkowiak, two step-daughters; Sara (Terry) Washburn and Kari (Travis) Washburn, 8 grandchildren; Ryan, Amanda, Melissa, Adela, Veronica, Davonne, Abby and John, 6 great-grandchildren; Aiden, Jimmy, Mya, Cameron, Kaylee and Aubree, and numerous extended family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Lillian (Mlsna) Sobkowiak; 3 brothers; James Sobkowiak, Charles Sobkowiak and Robert Sobkowiak, an infant sister Bernadine and a grandson, James.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, October 21st at 11:00 a.m. at the Dickinson Family Funeral Home, 401 Main Street, Onalaska. Burial with military honors will be in the Onalaska Cemetery. Friends may visit with the family on Monday at the funeral home from 9:00 a.m. until time of services. Information and online condolences may be given to the family at
The family would like to thank the Holmen Area Fire Department, Tristate Ambulance Crew 309, La Crosse County Sheriff Department, and the La Crosse County Medical Examiner for their professional and compassionate service.
In the words of Al Sobkowiak, retired Marine Corps captain: ‘Keep on keepin’ on!’