Elmer R. Feifarek, 90, of Appleton, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully Wednesday, August 19, 2020, in his home in Appleton due to progressive dementia. Elmer was born October 8, 1929, in Oconto, Wisconsin, to the late Charles and Geraldine (Brabant) Feifarek. Elmer recounted fondly his days growing up on a farm, walking miles to attend his one-room schoolroom and helping nearby farmers. He was given several nicknames including Elmer Shy (shy, but sweetly funny!) and Otis, as a young Elmer delivered milk jugs almost bigger than he in an Otis elevator truck. His mother and six siblings tell tales of household items disappearing, being dismantled, as Elmer took them apart, studying their design and “repurposing” them as they stubbornly failed to find their former shape! After graduating from high school, Elmer was persuaded by a farmer’s friend to work as a plasterer in Appleton where he boarded a room with a widower. Here Elmer later asked her daughter, Maggie, to a movie. New to dating, he carefully escorted her to the theater, bought her a ticket, sat her down politely, then settled in a distant seat to watch his hoped-for sweetie enjoy the movie. Maggie forgave his awkwardness, moved by his gentlemanly charm with good heart and sense of humor. They dated briefly until Elmer was drafted into the Korean War. Here his responsible hardworking nature led to his advancement in rank to Sergeant Feifarek, First Class. He distinguished himself in active combat, in the Battle of Bloody Ridge, as mortar, automatic weapons and small arms fired upon him. Though shot, he valiantly defended his position and his men against repeated enemy counter-attacks. He was awarded the bronze star medal with a V for Valor as he fought bravely to keep his comrades safe. Soon after this, he was honorably discharged, moved back to Appleton and married Maggie Hager on June 28, 1952. Together they had three children, Jane, Jeanette and Tom. Elmer continued to work as a plasterer until he began an apprenticeship as builder. His hard work again led him to branch out, becoming a one-crew contractor helped only at times by his son Tom, and later grandson Jay while in their teens. How Elmer beamed to watch them learn his beloved craft! His grandson fondly recounts walking through the woods eating asparagus with his grandpa, tending to his pet rabbits, driving his tractor and waiting eagerly all year for hunting season. Elmer was also proud of the countless homes he built, becoming somewhat a legend as other contractors stopped to gaze in wonderment at Elmer’s self-made mechanisms to raise walls. He built several homes for his family over the years, with the final home in Grand Chute being his favorite. He loved to tend to his yard and attract all sorts of life - be it birds, ducks, turkeys, deer, or raccoons. His humor and hard honest work never left him as he gave a helping hand, a story or a clever nickname to his neighbors. Elmer also enjoyed his dogs, his walks with them and Maggie, his hunting days and polka dancing near a cabin he built in his hometown. It meant so much to him that on his 90th birthday, his brother and sister visited from Oconto, delighting him with memories of their childhood. Elmer’s eyes, now clouded with dementia, whispered that old sparkle of light, misting with tears, as Bernie told him he was not only their mother’s favorite, but also his brothers and sisters’ hero. Elmer still read and reread the newspaper article that was written about his Korean War combat heroism. His grandson also relates he always wanted to be like his “superman” grandpa - building things, loving the outdoors, having lots of stories and witty jokes to readily share.
Elmer is survived by his daughter Jeanette Feifarek, (Madison, WI), son-in-law Bob Jochman, (Appleton, WI), grandsons Jay (Christine) Jochman, (Howard, Wisconsin) and Tim (girlfriend Theresa) Jochman, (Appleton, WI), great grandson Eli Jochman (Howard, WI), brother Bernhard (Ruth) Feifarek, (Oconto,WI), sister Harriet Newbury, (Oconto, WI), and sister-in-law Nan Feifarek, (San Jose, CA). Elmer is preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Geraldine Feifarek, his wife, Maggie Feifarek, his son Tom Feifarek, his daughter Jane Jochman, his sister Deloris Lynch-Rudolph and his brothers Chuck, Alfred and Glen Feifarek.
Due to COVID 19, a Celebration-of-Life will be scheduled at a later date. A Private Interment will be at St. Joseph Cemetery with military honors. Jeanette would like to thank the Green Bay Veteran’s Center and Heartland Hospice for the support they provided Elmer. The Veterans also made possible home care provided by St. Paul Elder Services in Kaukauna and Volunteer Services in Appleton. The love and assistance given to Elmer and support to Jeanette during her 2-year care of her dad were unparalleled in its scope, its humanity and its love. Special thanks to Debbie, Shai and Jerry who cared for Elmer over five years as lovingly as if he were their father.
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