obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00

John Joseph

When reflecting on the life of John J. Czajka, MD, it is easy to see that his selfless spirit was woven throughout his entire life’s song. With a desire to help others he built a rewarding career, using his skills to touch the lives of countless others all over the world. It was no secret that John was married to the love of his life, and together they witnessed their family tree blossom to include the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who were the light of his life. A people person, he had a way of putting others at ease, and a friend of John’s was a friend for life. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.

With the crash of the stock market in October of 1929, some of the darkest days our nation has ever seen became our reality as the Great Depression blanketed our nation and much of the world throughout the 1930s. Despite the trials around them, George and Stephanie Czajka were filled with great joy as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named John J. on April 12, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. One of two children in his family, he was raised in Chicago alongside his sister, Evelyn. John was a bit of a daredevil while growing up as he once crushed his fingers picking up a manhole cover to get water from a fire hydrant. Also among his antics was the time he fell off a boxcar and broke his nose. John attended local schools and was a star athlete who played football for St. Mel High School.

Always known for his strong work ethic and desire to succeed, John continued his education at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota. There, he was a pre-med student who majored in math and chemistry and graduated cum laude. John then received his MD from Marquette University in 1956 and did his internship at Cook County Hospital from 1956 through 1957. From there he served in the Army for two years, from 1957 through 1959, and he did his pediatric residency at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital from 1959 through 1961. With his education behind him, John established Forest View Pediatrics, serving patients in his community for 33 years. Through his work, John touched thousands of lives as a doctor, mentor, and servant in his community.

For the majority of his life, John was blessed to share his days with an amazing supporter and friend. Her name was Shirley, and they met while she was a senior in nursing school and he was a senior in medical school. They soon fell in love, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on November 17, 1956. The newlyweds were sent to Germany with the Army, and it was while in Heidelberg that they welcomed their daughter, Terri, into their hearts and home. After returning stateside, they were blessed with five more children, John Jr., David, Tom, Karen, and Paul. Later in life, John was blessed with 10 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

As his family and friends can attest, John was a man of many interests who was always busy. He loved golf both as a student and as a player as he constantly studied and played the game. John enthusiastically supported Marquette basketball for over 40 years, even traveling to New Orleans for the Final Four Basketball Tournament in 2003 to cheer on Dwayne Wade. Watching Cubs baseball was also a favorite pastime throughout his entire life. John studied sports, knew the rules and details of the games, and he loved to watch football, baseball, golf, and hockey. John coached Little League baseball for his sons, John, David and Tom, in the mid-seventies, and he played sheepshead. At parties and weddings, he and Shirley made quite the team on the dance floor. John loved blue cheese olives in his cocktail and anchovies on his Cesar salad. John and Shirley loved to travel and would often travel with family and friends – they even traveled to Poland and Greece to visit relatives living there. One of his lifetime dreams was to take his sons down the Colorado River. In honor of his 70th birthday, this dream finally came true in August of 2000. It was among the highlights of his life, and not only was he joined by his sons, John, Paul, and Tom, but also his grandsons, Matt and Tim.

One of the things John was best known for was his servant’s heart. Had they not had such a large family, John would have joined the Peace Corps. Instead, he and his wife opened the free Guadalupe Children’s Medical Clinic on the south side of Milwaukee, for which President Carter praised him. John was Sertoma International’s Man of the Year and was someone who did not tolerate injustice. Over the years both he and Shirley selflessly gave of their time working at the clinic. In 1996 John and his wife moved to Delafield, Wisconsin, and they recently moved to San Camillo in Wauwatosa. One of John’s relatives, Rich Bard, described him best, “John was one of the funniest, most outgoing and heartwarming people I ever had the opportunity to be around. He had that smile on his face, twinkle in his eye. His confidence and humility allowed him to selflessly interject into things, no need for guile, and make them all that much better.”

Described as brilliant, witty, loyal, and a catalyst and organizer, John Czajka, MD was a blessing in the lives of countless others who were within reach. He could also be a jokester with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. John was a family man through and through, and there was no greater joy than sharing life’s greatest moments with the ones he loved. An agent for change in his community and a voice for those who are often silenced, he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

John is sorely missed by his family, friends, and the countless people whose lives he touched. He passed peacefully in hospice on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 with family at his side. John is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley, 6 children and their spouses and significant others, 10 grandchildren, and 2 great-granddaughters. John’s strength and character live in them. As Shirley is fond of saying, “it was a great ride.”

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