|Birth: ||Feb. 20, 1928|
|Death: ||Feb. 10, 2009|
...my hero and the first man I ever loved.
He was the most giving person I know. He was my uncle, but he chose to be my dad when he adopted me after the death of my birth parents, Donna and Leroy Matten, as a young child. That's what makes him my hero... he gave me the most valuable gifts that I could have ever been given; a home, a family, security, stability, discipline, and love.
My dad served in the Air Force in WWII. He manned a radio tower in Okinawa. This part of his life, he kept very private and never talked about. When he was pre-planning many years ago, the subject of a military funeral came up, and he declined. We never understood it. We thought he deserved to be honored that way. After all, he gave himself to this country for a while. It wasn't because he was ashamed, he was a very proud man. He always thought that he has been repaid for serving. He got his education at Milwaukee School of Engineering, that he wouldn't otherwise have, on a GI Bill. Because of that education he was able to do right by his family who meant everything to him. And that, to him, was repayment enough.
He began working at Wisconsin Electric in the 1950s as an appliance serviceman. He spent the next 38 years with WE and was promoted to Maintenance Supervisor of the Oak Creek Power Plant where he retired from in June 1988.
He eventually changed his mind, and decided to have a military burial... but keep it small. That's what we did for him. Just family, two lifelong friends (Howie and Dots Murphy), and one of his Godsons and wife (Dan and Sue Murphy) were there; a twelve gun salute; and the folding of the flag which was handed to mom.
He spent the last week of his life at Kathy Hospice in West Bend, WI, with almost his entire family by his side; all 21 of us in that tiny room. His grandson, Tony, lives in Washington and couldn't be there. His grandson, Mike (Miranda), lives in Tawain but was able to talk with Grampa on the computer the last time he was awake. Seeing and talking to Mike on the computer made Grampa chuckle. We all had a chance for our last "one-on-one" with dad on Thursday, February 5, 2009. His last words to each of us were "I love you more" - this was the only 'argument' I ever remember mom and dad having - who loves who more.
He was comatose for the next five days, but he knew we were all there. I think he waited for me and Buffy (granddaughter, Elizabeth) to walk out of his room to go on his journey. Through tear-filled eyes, mom asked each of us to give him a kiss, tell him that we love him and that we'd see him again one day, and then let go of his hand and set him free. It was the hardest thing we've ever done. We each did as mom asked; Buffy and I went outside. Buffy was his 56th birthday gift; they share a birthday and lived next door to each other, and because of that they shared a very special relationship. This was really painful for her. It was a beautiful night; warm for a February evening. There was a full moon that night and it was one of those perfectly round, huge orange ones. In the southwestern sky was the biggest and brightest star I've ever seen. I think that star was put there just for him that night to guide him on his way; I've never seen one that big and bright. As we held hands, we said a quiet prayer for him; and in that same moment, I looked at Buffy and felt my heart breaking. Christina called and said he had passed.
Loving husband, Dad, Grampa, and Great Grampa,
We all love you so much...
... We'll see you again one day, on the other side. Until then, please keep watching over us like you've always done. We love you.
Also preceded in death by:
His former daughter-in-law Diane Lynn Pohlhammer
His niece, Nicole Marie Kriske
Melvin Frank Johnson (1901 - 1976)
Josepha Helen Kennebeck Johnson (1902 - 1981)
Lorraine Marie Kriske Johnson (1929 - ____)*
Note: Military burial March 20, 2009
Forest Hill Memorial Park
Created by: Lauri Segrin
Record added: Feb 10, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33724725