Obit: Ignowski, Michael Vincent (1918 - 2008)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Ignowski, Lesniewski, Matlock, Van Gilder, Reierson, Weber, Deskin, Chavez, Morgan, Umbarger, Elliott, Aamedt, Rogalski, Ciokiewicz, Balicki, Greschner, Gehrke, Sluzewski, Cantwell, Vanderweil, Johnson, Farrell, Kirven, Igoe

----Source: Thorp Courier (Thorp, Clark Co., WI.) November 19, 2008

Ignowski, Michael Vincent (3 May 1918 - 12 November 2008) With Flag

Michael (Mike) Vincent Ignowski died November 12, 2008, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was born to Vincent George and Katherin (Lesniewski) Ignowski on May 3, 1918, in Lemont, IL. Later the family moved to Thorp, WI where they owned a dairy farm.

His mother died when he was seven years old. He flunked the first grade because he couldn’t speak English. During his early years, Polish was spoken around the home and among the extended family. He lived with different relatives over the course of his early life. He later lived with an aunt and uncle in Lublin, WI while he attended grade school, and graduated from the eighth grade. He rejoined his father and lived at Whitewater, WI. Later, he moved to Chicago, IL and drove a milk truck for his two brothers who owned a dairy. He returned to Whitewater and entered the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).

As a teen, he and his cousin, Joe Ignowski, went to the Dakotas and worked in the grain harvest to make money for the winter months. After a few summers, they decided to continue traveling west to see the Pacific Ocean. They stopped in Yakima, WA and camped along the Yakima River while working in the orchards picking hops, apples and pears. Mike worked on ranches doing chores, including fence repair, herding cattle and sheep, and breaking horses.

They later set off for the Portland, OR area where they worked at various jobs. Finally, they left Portland and arrived at Astoria, OR where they at last saw the ocean for the first time. His cousin got homesick and decided to head back to Wisconsin and milk cows. So he stayed in the Portland area while working at different farms. He also worked in a restaurant washing dishes then became a waiter. He figured he would gradually work his way back to Wisconsin.

He got a job working harvest on a wheat ranch north of Madras, OR. It was here that he met Juanita Matlock. When he finished there, he moved to Sherman County where he made his home with Harry and Ethel Van Gilder on their ranch outside of Wasco. They took Mike in and treated him like a son, while Mike viewed them as his adopted parents. Their son Harry, and Mike became very close, like brothers. Mike would often stay at various ranches in Sherman County when the owners took vacations or needed extra help.

Mike later moved to The Dalles, OR where he went to work for Forest Products Co., which later became J. H. Baxter Co. He had worked there nearly 40 years when he retired in 1980. During the times he was laid off, he would drive taxi for Bill Houey’s taxi company. He met Juanita Matlock again in The Dalles. After a courtship, they were married on December 14, 1941.

Mike had volunteered for the military, but no military branch would accept him due to his poor eyesight. However he was drafted into the Army from Sherman County on April 19, 1942. He was shipped to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where he went through his training. He served in the South Pacific with the 25th Infantry Division, 35 Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, G Company. He was trained as a scout and often had the role of point man for his unit. He received the CIB (Combat infantryman badge) and the Bronze Star while seeing action at Guadalcanal, Vella LaVella Island, and the landing of Luzon in the Philippines. He left the army in October 1945 at Ft. Lewis, WA and traveled to The Dalles to be reunited with Juanita. During their three years and five months of separation, their only communication was a handful of letter.

He is a member of the American Legion, Moose, Eagles, and the Heppner Elks Lodge. He was a Cub Scout leader and helped with the Boy Scouts. Mike was very active in baseball. During the early 1950’s, he played baseball for the town team. He and Irv Reierson were coaches for the Recreation Café Babe Ruth team. He was an umpire for Babe Ruth and Little League. In the mid 1960’s, Mike became coach of the American Little League Eagles Team when his son, Bob, started playing baseball. He coached the team for over 20 years. After each game, he would treat the kids to a soda at the concession stand. He designed and helped install the bleachers at 16th Street ballpark. Every spring he would help prepare the field for baseball season. In 1985, the District Little League All-Star tournament at The Dalles was dedicated to Mike in honor of his work and accomplishments.

He was an active member of The Dalles Rod and Gun Club during the early 1960’s. He served as Secretary-Treasurer and President. He was appointed by Cal Giesler, then Director of Oregon Game Commission, to serve as an Instructor for the Oregon Hunter Safety course for children under the age of 18 years. In the latter 1950’s, Governor Robert Holmes appointed him Conservation Chairman of Wasco County. He was president of his International Woodworkers of America, Local #2785 at J. H. Baxter Co. He was also the President of the Swap & Swing Square Dance Club. Mike enjoyed fishing and hunting. He was an avid fly fisherman and tied his own flies. He spent much of his time fly fishing on the Deschutes River.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Juanita; three sons: Patrick and wife TerryLynn of Fossil, OR, Michael and wife Linda of Clackamas, OR. And Robert of The Dalles; two daughters-in-law: Polly Ignowski and Ann Weber. In addition, he is survived by his grandchildren: Mark Ignowski and wife Marylou, and Jolene Ignowski and husband Scott Deskin; two step-granddaughters: Dana Chavez of Hillsboro, OR and Kim Morgan of Park City, UT; three great-grandchildren: Emily Umbarger, and twins Beckett and Ian Ignowski; and four step-great- grandchildren, Ashley and Morgan Elliott, T. J. Ignowski and Vikki Aamedt. He is also survived by his nephews and nieces and other relatives: John (Josephine) Rogalski of Crystal Falls, MI, Richard (Geri) Rogalski of Tison, AZ, Donald (Janet) Rogalski of Thorp, WI, Robert (Joyce) Rogalski of Stevens Point, WI, Betty Ciokiewicz of Thorp, WI, Alice Balicki, of Cicero, IL, Fred Rogalski of Racine, WI, Mrs. John (Lucille) Greschner and Mrs. Tom (Dorothy) Gehrke, Dr. Edward Sluzewski and Robert Sluzewski, of Owen, WI, Mrs. David (Joan) Cantwell of Ixonia, WI and Lennard (Yvonne) Sluzewski of Tomahawk, WI, Audrey (Cornelius) Vanderweil for Arlington Heights, IL, Joyce Johnson of Kewaunee, WI, Joe Farrell and Ellen Kirven of Buffalo, WY. In addition, he leaves his very special friends, Arthur and Marjorie Van Gilder, The Dalles.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three sisters: Elizabeth Ignowski, Josephine Sluzewski and Evelyn Rogalski; and two brothers: John Igoe and Joe Igoe.

In honor of his wishes, there will be no funeral or graveside services. It was his desire to be cremated with his ashes spread over his favorite fishing spot along the Deschutes River.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Heart of Hospice, 1020 Wasco St. Suite C Hood River, OR 97031



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