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January 30, 2023, marks the end to an incredible story. Walter Stephen Jankowski has left his broken body and this broken world behind and joined those who have gone before him. May he rest in peace…finally.
Walt was born in Florence, Wisconsin on July 19, 1937, to Walter and Elizabeth (Bal) Jankowski. As the stories are told, Walt was a spirited young man who was often out with his buddies finding good natured mischief where it was to be found. Upon graduating from Florence High School in 1955 he entered college at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Pharmacy. Sadly, the unexpected death of his father required him to hitchhike home, never to resume his pursuit of a college education.
A year later, Walt did return to Madison but this time to join the United States Air Force where he was stationed at Truax Field for two years. It was during this time that Walt met, and fell in love with, Ruth Ann McGinley. The young couple loved to dance, laugh, and celebrate life.
Walt and Ruth were married on August 9, 1958, at St. Phillips Catholic Church in Rolling Ground, Wisconsin. They were blessed with five children, Walter Stephen 3rd (Wally), Mike, Ron, Christine, and Joe. They shared a very full life in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Walt played softball and was active in the Jaycee’s where he formed many strong and lasting friendships. He was a social person and seemed to know everyone which was a defining characteristic throughout his life.
Tragedy struck in early December of 1970. Walt was in a catastrophic automobile accident leaving him with injuries that could not be fully overcome. He defied all medical odds and predictions and made miraculous strides but still needed the support offered at the Waunakee Manor. He was a resident of the Manor from 1973 until his death making him without question the longest tenured resident. During this time, he became well known as a trickster and loved to tease visitors and staff alike. He continued to be social and outgoing despite his challenges and made a lasting impact on everyone whose path he crossed. The Manor was located across the street from the Centennial Park where the local softball leagues played. Weather permitting that is where Walt would be found, enjoying a cold beer with his old friends, cheering on the teams, and jeering the umpires. He truly loved his life to the fullest his circumstances would allow.
Walt is survived by Wally and Ronda Jankowski of Waunakee, and their children Josh (Amber), Tyler (Kinsley), Jake (Jonna); Mike Jankowski of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, and his son Harper; Ron Jankowski of Neenah, Wisconsin, and his children Henry, Grace and Tess; Christine Jankowski Bowar of Windsor, Wisconsin, and her daughter Sarah (Jon) Lauersdorf; Joe (Kristi) Jankowski of Plymouth, Wisconsin, and their children Tom and Olivia (Luke) Held as well as six great grandchildren.
Additional survivors include Dan and Betty (Jankowski) Mazurek of Texas; Pat Gruka of Texas; and his favorite cousin, Paul Jankowski of Wisconsin, with whom he shared a very close friendship.
Walt was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth McGinley (Quam) of Waunakee, grandson Bill Bower of Pine Bluff, Wisconsin, his parents, Walter and Elizabeth Jankowski, of Norway, Michigan and his brother, Chuck Jankowski, of Ely, Minnesota.
A Memorial service will be held on Thurs. March 2, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at St John’s Catholic Church 209 South St Waunakee. Msgr. James Gunn will officiate. Friends may call at the church from 9:30 a.m. until the time of services. Burial will take place in the church cemetery.
We would like to thank Ed and Betty Kruchten, and their entire family, who owned and managed the Waunakee Manor during most of Walt’s life there. Additionally, we thank each and every frontline care giver who brought so much love and kindness to Walt’s life. We also want to thank the emergency medical personnel and staff at the University of Wisconsin Hospital for their professional care and kindness during his final hours.
This has been an amazing life journey for all of us. Without the love and support of so many people in the Waunakee community our lives would not have been so full. We are grateful to all of you.
Winn-Cress Funeral Home
5785 Hwy Q
Thursday, March 2, 2023
9:30 - 11:00am (Central time)
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
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