Ervin Ronald Nowak

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Ervin Ronald

Erv “Mick” Nowak passed away on Sunday evening, June 8, 2014, peacefully, at home and surrounded by his family – exactly the way he wanted it.

Erv (aka “Turvie” to his wife Lynn’s side of the family) was born April 1936 to the late Erwin and Catherine (Tobin) Fillhouer Nowak. He was the beloved husband of 47 years of Lynn (Grode) Nowak. Father of Michael, Thomas (Jennifer), Patrick & Nancy (Andy Holcomb) Nowak. Grandpa to George, Charlie and Julia. Also survived by many sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by half-sister Patricia George Foley.

Erv was a graduate of West Allis Central (HS), Marquette (BSBA) & UW Whitewater (M.Ed). While working on his undergrad at Marquette, he worked full-time loading and driving newspaper trucks for the Milwaukee Journal. Later, he spent two years in the army as a draftee, stationed in Augsburg and guarding the beer halls of Germany as he liked to say. He even got a glimpse of Elvis who was serving at the same time.

Prior to returning to Wisconsin and working in education, he spent a short time in sales, working for Scott’s Lawn. He was based in New Orleans and traveled throughout the Southeast. He had many stories from these days, most of which were not appropriate to tell in front of his children.
His career in education spanned 34 years in South Milwaukee – as both a 6th grade teacher and math teacher at Parkway for seven years and then as principal of Rawson and Blakewood elementary schools. His philosophy was “do what’s best for the children.” Known to his students as “Mr. Kickball,” Erv was full-time pitcher and refereed the popular lunchtime recess games.
Erv was known for his flawless penmanship, likely the result of all the practice he received penning the thousands of hand-written notes he mailed to each and every student on their birthdays. He spent countless hours writing these notes on index cards, always with a reference to what made that child special and unique. He remembered former students and their families by name, even decades after they had been at one of his schools.

Erv loved sports, especially college football and basketball, and the NFL (Go Pack!). One of his favorite things to do was to watch his kids’ track and cross country meets at Oak Creek High School and UW-Lacrosse. He also enjoyed reading mysteries/thrillers and being active, either by biking, running, or later walking. He often boasted about playing rec league basketball in South Milwaukee until he was 50 and surprising all the twenty-somethings that “the old man could still play.”

One of Erv’s favorite hobbies was washing, waxing and detailing cars for family and friends. He took great pride in doing this – his way of showing appreciation for the people in his life.
Erv was a faithful Catholic and devoted member of St. Matthew Parish in Oak Creek for nearly forty years. He served on St. Matt’s parish council and on the church’s personnel committee, was a member of the Holy Name Society, participated in the Prayer Network, served as a Eucharistic minister, and volunteered at the weekly Bingo Night fundraiser for many years.

Erv and Lynn enjoyed traveling together following his retirement, or it might be more accurate to say Lynn enjoyed traveling, and Erv (a homebody at heart) went along because he loved Lynn. They took river cruises on the Danube and Rhine rivers (“pretty good”), China (“interesting”), Australia/New Zealand (liked it, but would never fly that far again), Hawaii (his fave), Alaska (definitely not his fave), San Diego (to visit Nancy) and Portland, Oregon (to visit his first grandchild).

His grandchildren, George, Charlie and Julia, were the light of his life the past 14 years, and he frequented Minneapolis to spend time with them. He spent a great deal of this time down on the floor playing matchbox cars, dinosaurs, Littlest Petshops and tickle monster. He also spent a fair amount of time (and money) at the St. Louis Park Target doing “grandma and grandpa trips”.
Thanks to all the neighbors and friends who were so generous with their time helping out the last few months, with everything from mowing the lawn to cooking. A very special thanks to Erv’s sister-in-law, Peggy, and brother-in-law, Dennis, who drove up from Texas to provide love, support, assistance (and backrubs) during Erv’s final days.

And thanks most of all to our mother, Lynn, the love of Erv’s life. Forty-seven years of marriage this week. Lynn was his everything. Selfless and strong, she cared for him, comforted him, loved him and acted as his all-around guardian angel. He was lucky to have her and he knew it.
Visitation will be held on Friday, June 13th from 2-4 at St. Matthew’s, 9303 S. Chicago Ave, Oak Creek, with mass of Christian burial at 4. Dinner will be served down in the cafeteria following mass (beer will be served as specifically instructed by Erv). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to “Smile Train” or St. Matthew Parish.

Past Comments

Tom Bauer

My father-Joseph Bauer thought very highly of Erv. I always thought-If my father thought so much of him he must be a person of special qualities. I did not know him well but I do know that he was a good man and a servant of God. Thank you Mr. Nowak for being the role model you were.

Becky Gauger

Sorry about spelling errors

Eileen Boyle Garrett

I remember him wearing a pink ribbon on his suit jacket in hopes of having a daughter!

Ann Maas

Lynn & family,
So sorry to here of Erv’s passing.
My thoughts & prayers are with you.
Ann Maas

David & Nancy McCormick

Dear Lynn and Family … So sorry to hear of Erv’s passing. Such a really nice guy … he was aways so very kind to my Mom and Dad. Our sincere sympathies to your entire family. David & Nancy McCormick

Jolene Waldref

My favorite principal at Rawson from 1980-1986. Still have some of my birthday letters and special notes. Forever missed

Matthew Potter

I haven’t seen Coach Nowak (as he will always be known to me) in many,many years. My brother who lives in Oak Creek let me know about his death, and I am very sorry for your loss.

He was my football coach in 7th grade, the first year we were able to play tackle football. This was 1970, +/-, and Vince Lombardi’s football philosophy reigned. I was scared to death of Coach, and he made us work harder than I ever had worked before. I was probably 13 years old at the time, and needed a good sense of discipline, leadership and love. He gave us all those in abundance. I kept playing football throughout my years at SMHS, then rugby in college, then became a teacher and coached football at a high school in Wyoming. In each of those circumstances, I could hear him barking at us to run faster, work harder, do it again. We won the championship that year, and he gave us trophies that I still have today. I carried the values he taught us on the field into life, and, with the grace of God and Coach’s inspiration, am a better man today. I will always be grateful to him for the gifts he gave us.

May God bless you and your family abundantly, and may God rest the soul of Coach Nowak.

Matthew Potter
Cheyenne, Wyoming

Megan Cortes

Mr. Nowak was my principle at blakewood. I remember him coming out to recess and playing kickball with all the kids! He was always the pitcher lol. I am sorry for the loss is family is going through and he will truly be missed by all of his precious students! May you rest in peace!

Becky Gauger

Sorry about spelling errors

Jennifer Prusko

Mr. Nowak was my favorite principal of all time. I have great memories of him from Blakewood. He always made me laugh and he had a way to make everyone feel special. I still talk about him with my parents when I’m reminiscing about my childhood. Mr. Nowak will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

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