Above all, Mac Lepkowski loved his family and was a devoted husband, son, brother, and wonderful uncle. With dedicated service to his country, he was a proud Veteran of World War II, having served in the U.S. Army. Just as good hearted as he was light hearted, Mac often referred to himself as the Bionic Man. As he would say, “I have silver in my hair, gold in my teeth, iron in my blood, and lead in “you know where!” He went on to remember his well loved quote even as the effects of Alzheimer’s began taking their toll on him. Truly a gift to those who knew and loved him, Mac will be dearly missed and fondly remembered.
The year 1918 was an exciting time in our nation’s history. It was the introduction to the Roaring 20s, which redefined the culture of America. Although the U.S. was unknowingly on the brink of the Great Depression, a sense of gaiety filled the air from coast to coast. For a young couple who set out for America from Poland in search of hope and a future, the days ahead indeed looked bright. On April 30, 1918 Walter and Julia (Borzymowski) Lepkowski lovingly welcomed their firstborn child into their hearts, a son they named Myron.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Myron’s father worked at Sivyer Steel, a local steel factory while his mother remained at home with Myron and eventually his six siblings. A bustling household of six boys, they included Myron, Wally, Hank, Ray, Tom and Eddie, but they rarely went by their given names. They each had nicknames, and Myron himself was known as Mac for the rest of his days. With six brothers to contend with, Mac’s sister Rita was the one lone daughter in their household.
The years of the Great Depression created much hardship for all, especially those with large families like Mac’s. Many made do with little to nothing, and it seemed as if the lean times were going to last forever. Like many young people during this era, it was a common occurrence to leave their educations behind in search of work. Mac dropped out of school after the eighth grade and began working at his uncle’s grocery store and butcher shop until he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. Mac entered the service on March 28, 1942 at a very young age. He proudly signed up to serve as a paratrooper simply because it paid an additional $20.00 per month which he faithfully sent home to help his family.
Throughout the years Mac made mention of his time in the service and was very proud to have served. He shared stories about many of his comrades, but rarely spoke of the numerous, horrific battles he encountered. From 1943 through 1945 he was involved in some of the most fierce battles and campaigns of the war, including Rome-Arno, North Appennines, the Invasion of Normandy, Ardennes Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland and the Central European Campaign in the Pacific Theater. Along with his paratrooper duties, he also worked in the kitchens and makeshift mess halls feeding the troops. Upon his honorable discharge on September 20, 1945, Mac received numerous decorations and citations for his heroic efforts of war such as the European, African and Middle Eastern Theater ribbons with one silver and one bronze battle star, and four overseas service bars among others. He was honored to have received a certificate of appreciation from the French government on March 9, 2002 in a ceremony held at the Milwaukee War Memorial for his distinguished service during World War II.
Following the war Mac was glad to return home to Milwaukee and tried to pick up where he left off. He obtained a job with the Pabst Brewery Company as a delivery person and remained there until his eventual retirement. Life for Mac after the war was all about family, friends and work. However, love found a way into Mac’s life when he met a young woman who captured his heart. Beatrice Niedzwiecki was the love of Mac’s life and in 1955 they became husband and wife. She was his one and only, and he affectionately called her his “Honey Bea”. Although they were never able to have children of their own, Mac was a treasure in the hearts of his nieces and nephews. As a godfather to many of them, he was known to be a “great” uncle in many respects. Some of his nieces and nephews even accompanied Mac and Bea to the annual Pabst Company Christmas parties over the years.
In 1956 Mac and Bea built a home in Cudahy and remained there together until 2005 when their combined health issues necessitated moving to an assisted living center. Over the years Mac and Bea made many wonderful memories in their lifelong home. They also had a shared love for travel and visited exciting destinations such as Hawaii, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. For 15 years they spent the colder months of winter in the warmer climate of Florida. Along with two of his younger brothers, Mac traveled to Bialystok, Poland, their mother’s birthplace and the land of their heritage. With strong Polish roots and a love for the relatives he had met while in Poland, Mac collected clothing for many years, especially Levi jeans, and sent them on to his family members there.
As the years began to creep up on Mac so did the development of memory problems. He was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia which forced him to live separately from his beloved Bea. It was a very difficult transition for them both but it was especially hard on Bea. As Mac’s Alzheimer’s progressed, it got to the point that he barely recognized her. When Mac needed additional care he was moved from the assisted living center at the Francis House to the skilled nursing area at the Franciscan Villa Nursing Home. On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, at the age of 92, Myron “Mac” Lepkowski was born to Eternal Life.
He was preceded in death by his “Honey Bea,” Beatrice; parents, Walter and Julia; brothers: Wally, Hank, Ray, Tom, and Eddie and is survived by his loving sister, Rita (Leonard) Rybicki. He was a dear uncle to Karen (Jeff) Greenmier, Mike (Nicky) Rybicki, Mary (Keith) Olson, Carolyn (Scot) Trojanowski, Rick (Paulette) Lepkowski, Bob (Carol) Lepkowski, as well as many more nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, great-great-nieces and nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation with his family and friends will take place Monday, January 3, 2011 from 3:00 PM until 4:45 PM followed by the funeral Mass at 5:00 PM, Nativity of the Lord Catholic Church located at 3672 E. Plankinton Avenue in Cudahy. Private entombment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Memorial Masses are appreciated. A special “Thank You” goes to the loving people at the Franciscan Villa, Francis House and Aseracare Hospice who lovingly cared for this special man who was so dear to us. Suminski Family Funeral Homes – Niemann/Suminski (414) 744-5156. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to submit a favorite memory, photo or to sign his online guest book.
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