Michael Walter “Mike” Szalkowski passed away on August 12, 2021, with his wife of 57 years, daughters, and grandchildren by his side. Following a brave battle with aggressive neuromuscular disease, he was released from suffering at 1:45 am. Mike, also known to friends as “Ski,” was born in Green Bay on April 23, 1944, to Walter and Ann (Karwoski) Szalkowski.
After graduating from Premontre High School in 1962, Mike joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. There, he served his country from 1963 through 1967 and acquired a lifelong appreciation for diversity that made his adopted daughters proud. During that time, he met the love of his life, Margaret Schaefer, for whom he fell at first sight. Following a whirlwind romance, they married in Folkston, Georgia on June 16, 1964, and later celebrated with a second wedding in Las Vegas.
From 1967 to 2006, Mike worked for North Central Airlines, Republic Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines. Friends and colleagues from those days describe him as helpful and kind, and the bonds they forged through their work were cherished by Mike even after he retired. From 2006-2020, Mike worked for Hertz Rental Car, taking daily road trips with coworkers he considered friends, often putting in hundreds of miles before lunchtime. With the money he earned in retirement, Mike continued to help his two daughters and took pride in seeing their careers and families grow.
Mike marched in many parades as a member of VFW Post #7534 and was passionate about honoring fellow veterans. An avid golfer, Michigan deer hunter, and fisherman, he treasured being outside with friends. In later years, he could be found most mornings near the bay at dawn, fishing pole in hand. He was always happiest outdoors, surrounded by greenery, water, and open skies.
Mike will be remembered as an incredibly friendly, generous man with a kind word, joke, or helping hand for anyone in need. He took in loners and welcomed newcomers with fatherly warmth and an open heart. An enthusiastic reader, crossword solver, handyman, and lifelong learner, he found more pleasure in sharing with others than in gathering material things for himself. While he was a father to three, he was “Dad” to many. His neighbors often referred to him as the “Mayor of Bruce Lane.” His two favorite pastimes were sitting in his driveway to “shoot the breeze” with neighbors and raising a glass with his gang at Krolls West. He expressed that he would miss helping the widows on his block, his wild bird feeders, cursing at squirrels, and sharing the fruits of his gardening talents. He will be dearly missed for his humor, sparkling blue eyes, enormous smile, and deep laugh.
Mike is survived by his beloved wife, Margaret; his daughters, Peggy Ann Szalkowski and Jenny Lynn Szalkowski; his grandchildren Riley Michael Szalkowski, Sierra Rose Szalkowski; sister, Mary Jane (Richard) Marbes; many nieces and nephews, relatives, friends, and “honorary sons” Jeff Warner and Michael Gee.
He was preceded in death by his son, Michael Dale Szalkowski, his parents, and a sister, Nancy Kazmierczak.
Friends may call at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 2270 S. Oneida Street, on Tuesday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at the church with the Rev. Matt Simonar officiating. Burial will be in Allouez Catholic Cemetery. On-line condolences may be given at www.prokowall.com.