George V. Pienkowski, 94, of Rhinelander, died Oct. 6, 2017 at his home under the care of hospice with his wife of 71 years and family at his side. He was born June 15, 1923 in Gheen, Minn., son of the late Frank and Clara Pienkowski. He married Elizabeth "Betty" Supergan in St. Florian's Catholic Church in Hegewisch, Illinois on Feb. 17, 1946. George enlisted in the Army where he served in the Spearhead Division as a front line reconnaissance tank machine gunner in World War II. He began his tour of military service in England and from there landed with Allied Forces on Omaha Beach the third day of the Normandy Invasion. Pushing forward through France, Belgium and Germany, he was awarded three bronze stars and the purple heart for bravery in combat.
After his honorable discharge, he was married and worked as a machinist. He then became self-employed as a roofing contractor in the Chicago area. Together, George and Betty raised their family of six boys and two girls. George was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great and great-great-grandfather. His faith, strength and stamina were evidenced by the life he led. In 1973, George, Betty and family moved to Rhinelander where he expanded his business to home construction. George worked for over 50 years until his retirement.
George was an outdoorsman and especially enjoyed fishing. For 20 years after he was married, he returned annually to his roots in Orr, Minn. where he fished Pelican Lake until he bought his own property on a lake near Rhinelander. When he was not fishing, he spent his free time maintaining his lake property. In his younger days, George enjoyed bowling and also enjoyed music. George played both the accordion and piano by ear and loved to entertain his family. He and Betty also took every opportunity to dance the polka, jitterbug or waltz. The two of them never tired on the dance floor. On Saturday nights, visitors to their house could find the two of them singing and sometimes dancing to "The Lawrence Welk Show."
George was a member of the Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhinelander where he was a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He developed his love of the Lord as a boy in Minnesota when he walked several miles each Sunday to serve mass at the local parish.
George will be deeply missed by his family. Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth of Rhinelander, his two daughters, Mary (Lawrence) Day of Elderon, Patricia Rathbun of Woodbury, Minn., and six sons, George of Harshaw, Robert (Gloria) of Ramrod Key, Florida, James (Doreen) of Buchanan, Mich., Thomas (Evelyn) of DeForest, Paul (Deb) of Black Earth, and Daniel (Janice) Pienkowski of Rhinelander, 19 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
The visitation for George will be held at the Hildebrand Funeral Home on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 from 5 to 8 p.m. There will be a Parish Prayer Service at 8 p.m. A second visitation and Mass of Christian Burial will take place at Nativity of Our Lord Parish (St. Joseph site) on Friday morning Oct. 13, 2017. The visitation will take place from 10:30 a.m. until the 11:30 a.m. mass. Fr. Randy Knauf will be the celebrant. George has been a member of Dahlberg-Makris Post 7 American Legion. A Committal Service followed by full military honors conducted by the Ray Rousseau V.F.W. Post #3143, Rhinelander and two representatives from the United States Army will immediately follow the mass at Northland Memorial Park.
George's family would like to extend a warm thank you to Karen of Nicolet Staffing, George's caregiver in his final days, as well as the Ministry Home Health Hospice for their support, care and compassion.
Hildebrand Funeral Home & Cremation Specialists, 24 E. Davenport Street, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501, 715-365-4343. Celebrating lives and healing hearts. Everyone is invited to light a candle, sign the guestbook, leave a photo or an online condolence at www.hildebrandrussfh.com
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