Jacob Clement “Papa” Pizarek, 99, of rural Wamego, Kansas, formerly of rural LaPorte, Indiana, went to Heaven on Trinity Sunday, June 12, 2022 at home with the comfort of his family.
Jacob, referred to as “Jake” by many, was born at home on the family farm just outside of Michigan City, Indiana joining 3 older brothers and 2 older sisters, with 2 younger sisters and 1 younger brother to join them. He attended St Mary of the Immaculate Conception Grade School, completing 8th Grade. Even though his Catholic religious beliefs have always been a key part of his life, he was more interested in being outside doing farm work and enjoying nature, rather than being in school.
As a boy, Jake enjoyed actively helping on the family farm in the fields and with livestock, in earlier years they took milk to town from their dairy cows to the local company and peddled eggs. He took care of the chickens, raised rabbits for meat, and loved working with and riding horses. He enjoyed growing up in simpler times when they were proud to be owners of some of the first cars to be used for transportation. He told many fond stories about riding a “streetcar” to school, then driving his Mother around in the car as early as 12 years old!
Jake was drafted in the Army in 1943 and sent to Camp Carson Colorado for Basic Training, but discharged before completion and sent home, as his father died unexpectedly. In 1944, he was called back to serve by being sent to Fort Sill Oklahoma to retake Basic Training. He always joked about how much fun it was that time, as he knew what was coming next in the training, so could answer the questions and do well. He was sent to Italy during World War II serving in the 10th Mountain Division Mule Pack Field Artillery, and was so proud to have been in the 10th Mountain with Bob Dole, who later became Senator in Kansas. Jacob told the story to everyone about how he saw Bob Dole being carried off the field when he had been hit by enemy fire, and always added, “I said a prayer for him.” He was extremely excited when he got to meet and visit with Senator Dole in 2015 while participating in Chicago Honor Flight to Washington, DC. While on the trip, Jacob was overwhelmed with exhaustion from all the festivities and was hospitalized, and another highlight in his memory was that Senator Dole called him on the phone to check on him. In December 2021, Jacob was given front row seating at the Memorial Service for Senator Bob Dole in the Topeka Capitol, and met Elizabeth Dole after it, being given a special coin as a remembrance.
After discharging from the Army in 1946, he drove a school bus on which there was a Senior girl with whom he had an interest. She was someone whom he had known since her birth, since their fathers were really good friends. He loved to tell the story about how one day when he was about 10 and she was about 4, his Dad said, “Go over there and sit on that log next to her, as you might marry her someday.” On April 24, 1948 Jacob married Janet Louise Herrbach at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Michigan City, Indiana. Jacob received several other Sacraments there - Baptism, 1st Holy Communion, Confirmation being given the name Patrick, and he was a Server at Mass. He used to talk extensively about how his Great Grandfather had been one of the Founding Fathers of the Church helping to build it when he came here from Europe. He was proud to have his 2 children attend 12 years of Catholic education there. In later years he joined Queen of All Saints Catholic Parish in Michigan City. Jacob was dedicated in always participating at Sunday Mass, only missing when he was sick. He also enjoyed the Parishes of Seven Dolors and St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center in Manhattan, Kansas.
Jake was a member of Coolspring Township Farm Bureau, and the Catholic Order of Foresters. He very much enjoyed the LaPorte County Fair, taking vacation that week each year to spend with his daughter, Cherie, helping her wash her steers at 5 AM getting them ready for the 4-H Beef Show, even sleeping in the back of the truck or van at the Fair. He loved gardening and growing vegetables. “Papa” was a fun-loving cheerful man who enjoyed playing all kinds of card games, especially pinochle. He loved all kinds of animals. “Papa” never knew a stranger, and loved to talk to anyone. He loved to dance, especially the “Polka” or as he called it “Polish Hop”.
During their early married life, Jacob with Janet and their young son “Tommy”, traveled the country taking jobs mostly on Dairy Farms in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and then back in Indiana. Jacob worked in construction jobs, talking about how he helped build a big church on Valparaiso University, then he became a plumber, before eventually working as Maintenance Man fixing all the machines when they would break, in Appleton Factory, then 23 years at Dwyer Instruments, both at Michigan City. He was retired for 36 years, and was elated to be able to attend the Dwyer Christmas Party with his daughter in 2019.
Jacob is survived by his wife of 74 years, Janet L (Herrbach) Pizarek& daughterCherie Pizarek(Tom) Trieb, both – Wamego, KS;daughter-in-law Sue Pizarek – LaPorte, IN; grandchildren: Gemma Pizarek – LaPorte, IN, CoryGarmon – Manhattan, KS, Bernadette Trieb – Wamego, KS, Annette Trieb–El Dorado, KS, William (Anne) Trieb + great-grand-sons John & Peter – Lincoln, NE; nephews Marc Pizarek IN/SC, Matt (Denise) Bankowski FL/TN, Michael (LouAnn) Bankowski TN, Bill (JoAnn) Herrbach IN, Lee Herrbach IL, nieces Anne (Jim) Cadwell IN, Cindy (Phil) Sliwa OH, Pam Pizarek IN, Kathy (Dick) Zigler IN, Barbara Miller CA, Linda Walker OH; grand-nephews/nieces + their families = Pete (Kathy)Pizarek, Amy (Andrew) Crane, Carin Cadwell, Craig (Deanna) Cadwell, Charlie Cadwell, AlisonLadson, Greg (Eda)Pizarek, Kris (Brenna Ruth) Pizarek, PJ (Wanda) Sliwa, Tom Bankowski, Katie (Tony) Stahoviak, Heather (Jorge) Anaya, Dawn Zigler (Dave) Cramer, Joy Zigler, Kris (Gayle) Herrbach, Aimee Herrbach, Toni Herrbach, Todd (Beki) Herrbach, Trisha Jones, Wynne (Jen) Herrbach, Sam (Gina) Herrbach, Sarabeth (David) Scott, Matthew Pauley, Diana (Joshua) Hoskins; plus numerous great-grand- and great-great-grand-nephews/nieces.
Jacob was preceded in death by his grandparents, John (Pauline Timm) Pizarek& Peter (Matilda Schmitz) Mark; his parents, Joseph G(Mary Juliana Mark) Pizarek; siblings Sister Margaret Pizarek CSA, John PPizarek, Mary Jo Pizarek, Joseph F Pizarek, James (Eleanor) Pizarek, Martha (Matt) Bankowski, Marcella Pizarek, Jerome T Pizarek, and Gertrude Pizarek who died as an infant of the Flu in 1918; son Thomas T Pizarek; nephews James W Pizarek, Gene Herrbach, Ted Herrbach, Ralph Herrbach, Alan Herrbach, Jim Miller; nieces Carol Butts, Wanda (Bud) Badkey, Sandy Pauley; nephew-in-law Doug Walker; niece-in-law Kim Pizarek;grand-nephew Michael Butts; grand-niece Coleen Cadwell, 16 Aunts/Uncles + their spouses, and 100+ cousins.
Jacob led a full life, gardening and puttering around on his John Deere lawn tractor until only 2 years ago. Due to declining health, he and Janet moved to Wamego, Kansas to be cared for by his son-in-law and daughter in November 2020. “Papa” always had a goal to live to be 100 and be married 75 years – he was less than 1 year from reaching those goals. He was excited that he probably was the oldest living male in all of his known family and relatives. When his health was faltering in these last couple months, a 99 Birthday Celebration was planned in May, complete with a Parade of Veteran motorcycles and cars filled with Accord Hospice employees, thanks to the Manhattan American Legion. A special thank you to Father Gale Hammerschmidt for giving him comfort recently with Last Rights.
The family hopes that anyone who can, will join us at his 11:00 AM Catholic Funeral Mass at Queen of All Saints Parish in Michigan City, Indiana with burial in Greenwood Cemetery, including a Military Salute, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 with visitation in the back adjoining Legacy Center at 9:45 AM. Memorial contributions can be made in his name to:
St Isidore’s Catholic Student Center, 711 Denison Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502 Attention: Father Gale
Arrangements under the direction of Haverstock Funeral Home-La Porte, IN.