Aloysius P. Piorkowski, U.S. Navy Veteran, of Crestwood, passed away on Sunday, September 18, 2022 at the age of 94 years. Beloved husband of the late Winniefred E. “Winnie.” Proud father of Walter (Kathy), Alan (Dawn), Jim, Arthur, John, Robert, Virginia (the late Douglas) Welbes, Deborah (the late Dennis) Maxson, Michelle (John) Marsh, and the late Edward and Patricia. Cherished grandfather of Kristen (Don), Jason, Alex, Alysa (Chris), Ross (Lauren), David, Brandi, Lory, Jay, Sammy, Alexis (Tom), and Ashley (Rishab). Loving great-grandfather of Colton, Camden, Chloe, Jaxson, Logan, Landon, Blake, and the late Amanda. Dear brother of many. Fond uncle of many nieces and nephews.
Visitation Sunday, September 25, 2022, from 3-9 P.M. Funeral Monday, 9:15 A.M. from the BECVAR & SON FUNERAL HOME, 5539 West 127th Street Crestwood, to St. Alexander Catholic Church, 7025 W. 126th Street, Palos Heights, for a 10:00 A.M. Mass. Burial will be private at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, IL. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Bethshan Association, 12927 So. Monitor Avenue, Palos Heights, IL 60463 (Telephone 708 371-0800) in the name of Robert Piorkowski would be appreciated. For more information: (708) 824-9000 or www.becvarfuneralhome.com
Written by Veteran Administrator Reporter and Aloysius:
My Life, My Story
My parents, Peter and Angeline, immigrated from Poland in 1925. I was born in Chicago, 47th and Racine, right across from a stockyard. I am the baby, the "last caboose" their ten children -five boys and five girls. My father worked in the coolers at a slaughterhouse that processed cows and pigs. He developed pneumonia and passed away in the early years of the Depression. Everyone was poor then. We couldn't afford a funeral home, so his wake was in our living room. Fortunately, my mother found a job working all night scrubbing floors and cleaning downtown Chicago offices. Because she had to sleep during the day, I was raised by my older brothers and sisters. I attended Catholic elementary and high school. On occasion, a cow from the processing plant would wander into our backyard, and we'd have to lead it back to the pen. During World War Il, four of my siblings were in the service: one Marine, one Army, and two Navy. So, what did I do? When I was 17, in my third year of high school, I went to see the principal and asked for my diploma early so that I could join the Navy. He was happy to give it to me. I went to the Naval recruiting office and lied about my age. It was 1945, and as the war was ending, they really needed people to replace those being 8 discharged. Right out of boot camp, they asked for volunteers for the medical field and I raised my hand. They sent me to Southern California. At the time, Japanese people were being detained in camps because they didn't know who to trust. When I got to the Naval hospital in Corona, there was a lot of security because there was concern about sabotage and Japanese submarines off the coast. But the Navy didn't give me a firearm. They gave me a syringe full of morphine and said,"Here's what you're going to need here."I administered morphine to Marines who'd been shot in the South Pacific. They sent me to school at the base to learn about anatomy, pharmacology and nursing care for the wounded. I also learned about hematology. I worked in a laboratory with a microscope, analyzing blood for the doctors, including counting red and white blood cells. When they performed surgery, I supplied blood for them, checking that it was the correct type. I had other duties too, like helping the pathologist with postmortems in the morgue. I didn't like that, but I assisted wherever they needed me. I was a Pharmacists Mate, the equivalent to a sergeant in the Army. All five of us siblings returned home safely from World War lI. When my two years was up, the Captain said, "Ski!" -- which is what they called me, to shorten my last name "how about staying in the Navy? You'll travel around the world and can retire at age 39 with a pension for life." I said, "Captain, I would like to, but I have a young lady waiting for me." Her name was Winnifred. We knew each other from high school. After being honorably discharged, I went home to Chicago. She and I were employed at a Walgreens Drug Store to save up money to get married. Winnifred was assigned to the jewelry counter, and I was assigned to the adjacent camera department. After about three days, the manager called me into his office. He said, "You know what? You two are just ga-ga-ing each other. You're not selling any cameras and she's not selling any jewelry. You're fired." So I had to look for another job. We got married on December 26, 1950, in Chicago Heights, a suburb south of the city. It was the day after Christmas because Winnifred had elected to become Catholic and was baptized earlier that day. We had 11 children: seven boys and four girls. As a family, we enjoyed fishing and camping. There was a lot of love there, with all the kids. got a job at a printing plant, where I ran a printing press and later did quality control. I traveled a lot to see customers, like Reader's Digest, and corrected errors. I became the director of our small department of three. I was fortunate to work for a company that gave me a pension. I was employed there for 44 years Winnifred and I had our ups and downs. I'll never forget how we found out about diabetes. I was working on a Saturday and my wife called me and said, "Patricia isn't waking up." The doctor met us at the hospital. He looked at my wife and I and said, "Are either of you diabetic?" I says, "No, we don't even know what that is." He said, '"Well, your daughter is in a diabetic coma." The doctor pulled me aside and said, "Al, a one year-old with diabetes is going to be a tough job."But they couldn't save her. We later lost another child to cancer. My wife and I were good Catholics and we went on to have more children. Zing, zine. zing, we had 3 more diabetics in a row. I'm diabetic now, too. Our nine living children are all still alive. My oldest, Walter, is my capaole, loving, caregiver. I'm living with him and his wife in South Beloit. I'm the only living child of my mom and dad. I say that I'm their 94-year-old baby. I'm living a good life. Maybe l'll reach 100 years old. I'm losing my World War lI friends because of our age. Most veterans you talk to were under gunfire, in actual combat. My combat was with the needle, syringe, and morphine. I didn't go overseas, but I heard enough stories about it from the Marines fighting on the islands. I enjoyed my time in the Navy and encourage young people to enlist. Winnifred and I were lucky to have 65 years together. I told my grandkids and great grandkids, who call me "Grandpa Al," that when God was creating me, he went for a coffee break, and thus my brain wasn't completely developed. So, God went to Saint Michael the Archangel and said,"Mike, I need one of your angels to go down to Earth and help this guy Al get along. "And then an angel came down from Heaven to be my wife. Winnifred passed away six years ago. I tell the kids that the Good Lord called her back, to become an angel again. Everything has been arranged so that when I'm gone, I'll be buried with her. I say, "When Grandpa dies, his coffin is going to be put on top of Grandma's. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to knock on my coffin and she's going to answer, 'Oh it's you.' And I'll say, 'Yes, I'm here, honey.' And she'll say, 'What took you so long?"
Story written April 2022