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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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February 1, 2023

10/21/2022 5:29:00 AM
Alvin Charles "Al" Sowinski

Alvin Charles "Al" Sowinski, 86, of Sugar Camp, passed away peacefully at home with his family on Oct. 13, 2022. Al was born on Jan. 4, 1936, to Henry and Evelyn Sowinski, and was later dubbed "Bubber" by his sister growing up on the family farm. He left school in the ninth grade to work in logging, and dairy and beef farming with his father and grandfather. He also took technical college classes, became an accomplished sharpshooter through the NRA and served in the National Guard.

Al, his father Henry, and his brother, David "Sonny" Sowinski, started growing potatoes, so Al became a long-distance truck driver, and built warehouses with washing systems, and traveled the country to meet customers. He also worked with his father and brother, Henry Jr. "Butch" Sowinski, to operate Rhinelander Foods potato chip factory. With his sons Paul and Vince, and nephews Greg and John, the farm expanded to Missouri. Al served as a board member of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and its president, receiving a volunteer of the year and distinguished service award.

While Al was devoted to building the family farm, the lights of his life were family, his faith and the community of Sugar Camp. He was a member of St. Kunegunda Catholic Church from birth, serving as cemetery co-sexton, as a member of the Parish Council and building committee, and as Eucharistic minister. He served on the Sugar Camp Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years, with 8 years as Chief, receiving a Governor's Award for his service. Al received awards from local Lions clubs, and is an Honorary Life Member. A volunteer for the Sugar Camp Snowmobile and Youth clubs, he's received the Town of Sugar Camp Outstanding Citizen's Award. Al has been a Knights of Columbus member for over 50 years.

Al married the love of his life Shirley, (nee Bennett, of Harshaw) 59 years ago, and together they have traveled the world, helped others and enjoyed the simple things in life. Al was an avid gardener, preferred the outdoors, and loved hunting and fishing with his family and friend Richie Gross. He also loved flying his airplane, making his own sausage, and raising and releasing birds on his game farm. Al always had a story or a joke to share and didn't hesitate to share his opinion. After traveling with his family to California to see the redwoods, he reported, "And now I've accomplished just about everything I've wanted to do in my lifetime!" Without question, his delight and joy were his grandchildren. He was their biggest fan, and the loss of their Grandpa leaves a space in their hearts. At his side they heard many of his stories, and learned to till the earth, serve others and love God. Grandpa could fix anything, would do so as often as he could in his last days, and is certainly doing so in heaven.

Al was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings Dorothy Cirilli and Sonny Sowinski, his son Vince, dear friend Denny Dart and several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. He is survived by his wife Shirley, his children Anne (Paul) Gamoke, Plymouth, Mary (Rich Javenkoski) Sowinski, Three Lakes, Paul (Tunie nee Rychlock) Sowinski, Sugar Camp; grandchildren: Allison, Marcus, and Sarah Gamoke, Lauren, Madalyn, Bradley and Kara Sowinski. Also survived by his siblings Mary Ann Roberts, and Henry Jr. (Diane) Sowinski, cousins, many sisters-in law, brothers-in law, nieces, nephews, and other loving friends and family.

In lieu of flowers, the family will share memorials in memory of Al with St. Kunegunda Catholic Church, the Rhinelander Knights of Columbus, and other Sugar Camp organizations. The family encourages everyone who is in good health to donate blood.

Al gave blood many times, and through this gracious gift of strangers in the past few months, he was able to spend precious time with his family, and in his shop and garden.

Visitation for Alvin will be held on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, from 3 to 6 p.m., with a Rosary service at 5:30, at the Carlson Funeral Home in Rhinelander. Visitation will also be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Monday, October 24, 2022 at the St. Kunegunda Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, October 24, 2022 at 11 a.m. at the St. Kunegunda Catholic Church. You may leave your private condolences for the Sowinski family at

The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is serving the Sowinski family.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2022
Article comment by: Sandra Nesvick

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I lived in
Suger Camp for the 70's but have been gone since then although I've visited several times. Due to the pandemic I was last there in 2019 and didn't make it back since then. My sons were in your sons' class in Sugar Camp School and my first husband, Bruce knew yuor families well. I'll let him know of your loss too.
I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
Sandy Nesvick (formerly Pratz)

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