Walter H. “Vodge” Wapienik, age 91, of Munising, passed away on Thursday evening, January 2, 2020 at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette. He was born in Chicago on September 15, 1928 to John and Karolina Wapienik. He graduated from Sacred Heart and then Wm. G. Mather High School in 1948. Vodge proudly served his country during the Korean War from 1951 until 1953 in the U.S. Army. After returning home he met his true love, Alice Icke who became his wife on October 22, 1955. Three years later their only child Linda was born. Vodge and Alice shared sixty-four years of blessed togetherness. It was a match made in heaven. He was a devoted loving husband and father. Vodge worked at Kimberly-Clark Corporation retiring in January of 1990 with forty-two years of service. He worked outside in the yard as a heavy equipment operator. Vodge and Alice enjoyed twenty-five years of wintering in Maui with their daughter Linda and son-in-law David “Whitey”. A perfect retirement for both of them “Heaven on Earth”. Vodge and Alice became the surrogate parents for all of Linda’s friends on the island, creating a beautiful “Ohana” (extended family).
Vodge had a lifelong love and respect for nature. A genuine outdoorsman who lived his life according to the seasons. An avid hunter, fisherman, wild berry picker and gardener. He loved what the U.P. had to offer and made the most of every single day. To say he loved fishing is an understatement. Vodge would fish every day that he could. His greatest fishing story was from 1973 when he single handedly speared and wrestled a record breaking Northern Pike 47” long and weighing 35 pounds. Affectionately dubbed the Sand Point Alligator. Landing this trophy fish was a thrill of a lifetime for Vodge.
He was a light hearted soul with the ability to put a smile on your face. Vodge will be remembered for his quick witted commentary on everyday life and keen sense of humor. Vodge had a unique story telling capability like no other. He had his own language and you’d never be able to replicate a story told by Vodge. He had a way of touching people’s hearts. Vodge never lost his childlike spirit. He was always joking around, upbeat, with a twinkle in his eye. Vodge was once described as a Three Ring Circus that Ringling Brothers couldn’t control. He truly belived that “Laughter is the best medicine.” Vodge made a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to have crossed his path. He had a heart of gold and generous spirit. His motto was “Be kind and give, give, give, be grateful.”
Vodge was a devout Catholic. His faith was unshakeable, and he was a member of Sacred Heart Church. He always said he lived the best life a man could ever have wished for. Forever the optimist. He was truly grateful for his wonderful life. He will be missed beyond measure and will live in our hearts forever.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of Vodge’s caregivers throughout his life. Especially D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans. We were truly blessed. Thank you!
Vodge is survived by his devoted wife Alice and daughter Linda. His brother Yosh and sister-in-law Charlotte Wapienik, sister-in-law Norma LaFave and Elna Jones, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents John and Karolina, brother Edge and Elsie Wapienik, son-in-law David “Whitey” White, brothers-in-law Ron Jones and Robert LaFave and numerous friends.
Vodge’s Memorial Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Michael Ocran at Sacred Heart Church at 12:00 noon on Friday, January 10, 2020. A fellowship gathering will follow for time for visiting. Interment will be at Maple Grove Cemetery where military honors will be conducted by the American Legion and Vietnam Veteran Honor Guard at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Vodge’s name may be made to the D.J. Jacobetti Activity Fund.
Graveside services will be held on Monday, September 21, 2020 at Maple Grove Cemetery for both Vodge and his son-in-law Whitey. The American Legion and Vietnam Veterans Honor Guard will conduct military honors beginning at 1:00 p.m. Fr. Michal Ocran will conclude with committal prayers.
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Jacobetti Home for Veterans Activities Fund
425 Fisher Street, Marquette MI 49855