Jerome J. Papacek

erome J. Papacek, 92, of La Crosse, passed away on Thursday, November 28, 2019, at Gundersen Health System. He was born on January 29, 1927, in La Crosse to John T. and Mary (Roubik) Papacek. His brothers, Clarence, John, and George, who were all U.S. Army veterans, preceded him in death.

Jerome married Colleen A. Duresky on May 24, 1952. As a husband and father, Jerome was a wonderful man to his wife and a hero to his children; Mike, Pat, and Therese. They often spent time hunting and fishing together. He devoted himself to caring for his family, and he was admired for his strong work ethic.

In addition to his parents and brothers, Jerome was preceded in death by his wife, Colleen, who passed away on September 29, 2006. He is survived by his children; Michael (Julie) Papacek of Broomfield, CO; Patrick (Amy) Papacek of Phoenix, AZ; and Therese (David) Friedman of La Crosse, WI. He is also survived by his grandchildren; McKenna Papacek, Drew (Christy) Pearson, Kelsey (Jason) Smith, Jon (Connie) Papacek, Katie Papacek, Matthew Papacek, Jennifer Friedman, Stephanie (Kyle) Schmitt, Christopher Friedman, and Mikey Friedman. Jerome was also blessed with four great-grandchildren; Jason and Devon Papacek, Owen Schmitt, and Ophelia Pearson.

Jerome was a lifelong resident of La Crosse. He attended St. Wenceslaus School and graduated from Aquinas High School. Jerome enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Arena during WWII. He was honorably discharged in 1946. Jerome was then recalled to active duty in 1950 at the beginning of the Korean War, serving with the Commander of the 7th Fleet off the shores of Korea. He was proud of the fact that he served aboard the “Mighty MO” BB63 for six months before being transferred to other ships. Jerome was honorably discharged in 1952.

Jerome was employed by Allis Chalmers and the La Crosse City Fire Department. He then owned and operated State Road Liquor until, in Jerome’s words, the grocery stores ran him out of business. So, he went to work for one of them, Quillin’s. He always said, “If you can’t beat em, join em.” He worked there until retiring at the age of 80. Jerome was a member of the American Legion Post 52 where he served as Commander and was active in the Honor Platoon and 40 et 8. He traveled on the first Freedom Honor Flight to Washington D.C. and was instrumental in helping to recognize veterans by having the American Flag placed in their obituary in the La Crosse Tribune. He was also a member of the VFW, Korean War Veterans, and the La Crosse Eagles Club. In addition, Jerome was an active member of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish.

Jerome was a kind-hearted, gentle, and easy-going man with a great sense of humor. No matter where he went, even into his 90s, people recognized him and enjoyed a greeting and a laugh or two. He was well-known for his jokes and one-liners. Jerome enjoyed fishing and duck hunting, and he liked to share stories about his experiences with his buddies who called themselves The River Rats. He often talked about how he was one of the first to own water skis in the city of La Crosse. In addition, Jerome enjoyed gardening, ice cold beer, watching the Packers and Brewers, and most importantly, spending time with his family. He was a wonderful listener who was always ready to share wisdom in his own quiet way. He left our world a better place. Jerome will be deeply missed by his family, but they take comfort in knowing that he is together again with the love of his life, Colleen.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 A.M., Monday, December 9th at Mary, Mother of the Church Parish in La Crosse with Rev. Brian D. Konopa officiating. Entombment, with military honors, will follow in St. Francis of Assisi Mausoleum, Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. until the time of Mass on Monday at the church. Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse is assisting the family.

“The ringing in my ears has finally stopped.”

“It’s a great life, isn’t it?”