Monday, July 31, 2017


July 31, 1967 -- It was a Monday night in the hot San Fernando Valley and my siblings and I were watching one of our favorite shows "The Monkees" when my Mom received a phone call. I think the call came from law enforcement but I can't say for sure.  The person was telling my Mother that her father Leonard Stachowiak had died at the age of 61.  We all knew that Grandpa had emphysema due to his many years of smoking, but as kids you think people are invincible.

Our Mother was devastated!  How could she not be?  She idolized her Father.

Leonard Stachowiak was born on March 10, 1906 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  His parents were Charles Stachowiak and Anna Szukalski.  He was the 6th child (a sister died at 3 months of age in 1904) of 9 children. Leonard and his family attended Mass at the Polish Catholic Church of St. Cyril and Methody in Milwaukee.

His father Charles Stachowiak was the first Polish tinner to own his own business in Milwaukee. Even though, he his business was doing well, after taking a vacation to Southern California, he decided that is where and he and his family should live.  Packing two railroad cars full of their personal belongings and business machinery and supplies, Charles and Anna moved with their children to Van Nuys, California in 1926.

Now, when Leonard actually moved to Van Nuys or if he moved and just visited Milwaukee on occasion is up for debate. Leonard is not listed as living with his parents and siblings in Van Nuys in the 1930 US Census.  Whether he was still in Milwaukee, somewhere else in Southern California, in transit or his name was just spelled so incorrectly that it is hard to find him, is still a mystery and hopefully one day will be discovered.

What I do know is that Leonard married Lillian Helena Braciszewski on October 5, 1931 at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Van Nuys, California. (Lillian was widowed and living with her sister's family in Milwaukee in 1930).  Their daughter Joan was born in July of 1933.

Leonard worked as a sheet metal worker for most of his adult life.  He worked with his father and brothers in the family owned business after moving to California.  Their shop was located behind Charles and Anna's home.  In 1949, he started working at Lockheed where he continued to work for 12 years until his death.

Grandpa Leonard loved to bowl!  He bowled a perfect game -- 3 times in his life.  He also loved golfing.  At least once a week, after work he would go golfing. On July 31, 1967, Leonard went to the golf course at Griffith Park for his weekly game of golf.  While waiting to start at the first hole, he had a massive heart attack.  A physician was nearby and tried to revive him  with CPR but nothing could be done to save him.  He had died immediately.

July 31, 2017 -- Today we remember the 50th anniversary of Grandpa Leonard's death.  We remember while he was a fairly quiet man, how he liked to tell jokes.  We remember how we felt cheated that he was taken from us way too soon!  We wonder how our lives have would have been different if he had been a part of it for even 10 years more.  We are very grateful for even the short time we had with this very special man.

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