When reflecting on the life of Thomas Krajna, words such as caring, generous, and even selfless come to mind as his thoughts were always focused on others. He was very expressive and made it a priority to let others know just how special they were. A devoted family man, Tom treasured his role as a father, but he just may have argued that becoming a grandfather was his greatest reward. He was a man of great courage and strength who faced whatever came his way head on while finding strength in the love of his family. Deeply loved, Tom leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
Although the 1920s were a prosperous time, the 1930s were a much different story as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and many American families lost their homes. Despite the challenges around them, Anton and Margaret (Laufer) Krajna were able to shift their focus to a time of great joy in their lives as they were blessed with the birth of the baby boy they named Thomas Bruno on June 20, 1931, in the family home on Dousman Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the youngest of four children as he was raised alongside his sisters, Gertrude “Trudy” and Mary, and his brother, George. Tom’s father worked as a blacksmith while his mother was a busy homemaker.
For the most part, Tom was a typical young boy of his generation. His two older sisters loved playing with him and spoiling him. It was fairly common for them to take their young brother to the Washington Park Zoo in the buggy. They often played with other neighborhood kids, which included Tom’s brother and his friends. Thomas enjoyed various outdoor activities like camping and fishing, and he also played baseball, football, and ran track. He was also a Boy Scout. Tom attended St. Gall’s Catholic Grade School and graduated from Riverside High School. He then took some courses at Milwaukee School of Engineering before enlisting in the service.
As a young man, Thomas served in the 101st Airborne Division – 29th regimental combat team with the Army Air Corps based in Okinawa during the Korean Conflict. Because of the war, he hated rice and never ate it again. When the regiment disbanded, Thomas had the honor of carrying the flag back to headquarters.
After being discharged, Tom returned home and began working at the Wisconsin Electric Company. In 1960, he joined the Milwaukee Fire Department where he spent the bulk of his career. Tom had a distinguished career and retired in 1990 after 30 years of dedicated service. His strong work ethic and devotion to the people he served were truly an inspiration to his family. For this reason, several family members also served in the Milwaukee Fire Department.
Although his career meant a lot to him, Tom’s family was always first and foremost in his life. He met the love of his life through mutual friends in the Riverwest neighborhood. Her name was Lucy Geline, and they soon fell deeply in love. With a desire to build a life together Tom and Lucy were married in 1969, and he also became the father to her four young children, Ralph, Karen, Gregg, and Brian. Tom and Lucy later had a son, Tony, and a daughter, Annmarie, together. Their wedding ceremony in 1969 was a civil ceremony in Illinois, and several years later their marriage was blessed at St Mary Czestochowa Parish in Milwaukee. Tom and Lucy bought a house in Riverwest, and Tom lived there until his death. Tom, Lucy, and their six children traveled to 38 states in their camper. Sometimes, they took other family members and kids from the neighborhood. They spent many holidays together, and later in life Tom and Lucy were thrilled to welcome 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild into their hearts and home. During their retirement years, he and his wife became the family childcare providers, pouring their love into their grandchildren.
Throughout his life Tom was a man of many interests. He kept busy with hunting, fishing, and gambling at Potawatomi Casino, often coming home a winner. Tom enjoyed his local teams including the Milwaukee Brewers as well as the Milwaukee Braves before they departed for Atlanta. He also enjoyed watching the Green Bay Packers, playing games on the computer, and watching his favorite movie, Lonesome Dove. As his family and friends can attest, Thomas was absolutely the best at giving greeting cards, and he gave them for all occasions. Of course he always added his own special touch to each card, tailoring them to each individual. Tom was passionate about recycling, and everyone knew that if they needed something it could probably be found in his basement! Tom loved sharing memories and telling stories, and he was always there to help his family members with various projects. He cherished memories and was the one to share various memories and tell stories, and he had the time of his life in celebrating his 70th birthday at the place he loved, the new Miller Park Stadium.
In 2012, Tom was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He battled that disease and had a clean bill of health in 2014. In August of 2015, Tom was diagnosed with lung cancer, which proved to be a battle that he just couldn’t win.
With unending love and devotion when it came to his loved ones, Thomas Krajna was a blessing to everyone he met. He was thoughtful and caring, compassionate and genuine toward all who were within his reach. Tom will be dearly missed, but his family will proudly carry on his legacy.
Thomas Bruno Krajna died on March 17, 2016. Tom’s family includes his wife, Lucy M. Krajna; children, Ralph (Brenda) Janasik, Karen Janasik, Gregg (Michele) Janasik, Brian (Kris) Janasik, Tony (Georgette) Krajna, and Annie Krajna; grandchildren, Kyle (Mandy) Kehoe, Nick Janasik, Kerrie Kehoe, Jessica Janasik, Lauren Zembrowski, Brandon Janasik, Rachael Zembrowski, Joel Janasik, Jake Janasik, Taylor Janasik, Jenna Zembrowski, Ryan Janasik, George Krajna, and Sam Krajna; great-grandson, Conner Kehoe; siblings, Mary Lipski. Fond; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, Joann Lombardini, John (Barbara) Geline, Joyce Geline and Nancy (Doug) Cook; and other relatives and friends. Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Anton and Margaret; brother, George Krajna; sister, Gertrude “Trudy” Strom; grandson, Michael Thomas Janasik; and brothers-in-law, Daniel Lipski and Eugene Lombardini. Visitation Thursday, March 24, 2016, at Wisconsin Memorial Park – Chapel of Chimes 13235 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, WI 53005 from 3:00 p.m. until time of the Funeral Service at 6:00 p.m., Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122, www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.