Victor L. Cejka, Sr., age 87, of Hancock, WI (formerly of Stickney and Berwyn, IL), passed away the morning of April 21, 2021, at his home on Fish Lake with his family by his side. Shortly after Vic passed away, the sunshine peaked through the clouds while the gentle breeze carried the falling snow across Fish Lake.
Victor was born on September 22, 1933 in Chicago, IL to Victor and Mary (nee Sulovsky) Cejka. He grew up in Stickney, IL, attended Florence Nightingale School and Morton East High School, where he excelled in chess club. In 1950, he played Junior Division soccer for Sparta, winning the National Soccer League Championship.
After high school, Vic enjoyed working in a garage on vehicles, driving fast cars, beating his brother Bob in street racing, and then joined the military. Vic served as a Tank Mechanic in the United States Army from 1956-1958. He was deployed to Korea for one year and was stationed near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He received his GED and then was honorably discharged.
Following the military, he spent several years of his life working on cars and as a machinist at his father’s printing press company that published a Chicago area Czech newspaper, and other newspaper companies, including the Chicago Sun Times. When working at the Sun Times, he used to frequent the Billy Goat Tavern. Vic received his apprenticeship after commuting back and forth to Milwaukee to become a machinist and he enjoyed working on the Linotype machines.
Vic worked at Commerce Clearing House (CCH), a company that printed books with laws and court cases. He worked hard as a Linotype machinist, then a data input operator, and enjoyed playing jokes on the guys and gals he worked with. He was an avid learner, always striving to learn something new every day, and always taught his kids to “look it up” if they asked something they didn’t know. Dictionaries, encyclopedias and globes were used frequently, and he was a master in spelling.
Vic’s true calling and passion was his membership as a paramedic/firefighter with Stickney Fire Department. He was a humble and proud charter member, and saved numerous lives over the years. He always ensured his family knew emergency exit routes from any building or home, and was strictly dedicated to educating his community about fire safety and smoke detectors. [If you are reading this, stop and test your smoke detector now and decide on a family meeting place in case of a fire.] Vic was our hero.
Vic was an avid fisherman and very active, with knees of a 35-year-old man. His idea of heaven was Fish Lake and time with his kids. He enjoyed boating, tinkering around in the garage, and watching M*A*S*H, Bonanza, Lone Ranger, Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Walker Texas Ranger. His favorite past times was taking the kids waterskiing, traveling to St. Germain, pontoon boat rides, and dancing. He also enjoyed listening to a variety of music, his mother used to sing opera on the corner near a grocery store. He was a “collector” of a variety of items, ranging from tools to anything that could be repurposed. He was well-known for repurposing baby food jars and yogurt cups for storing nuts and bolts; using juice and milk jugs to cut down and use to scoop bird seed and salt in the winter. He also was an avid lumberjack, he enjoyed chopping wood and stacking it. Every car trip with his kids, he would play his favorite music tapes, especially Tom T. Hall.
Prior to meeting Arlene, Vic was blessed with a son James. In addition to James, Vic also gained two step-children, Susan and David, whom he thought of as his own and loved until the end.
Vic met Arlene at Ken’s Bungalow in Stickney, IL. Arlene was waiting for her nurse friends at the bar, when Vic offered her ‘some stale popcorn’, then they danced the night away at The Fire Alarm tavern in Cicero before he asked her to “come back to my place and see my fish”, referring to the 36-inch Northern Pike he had mounted on his wall from a Canada trip. Vic married Arlene, the love of his life and his soulmate, on August 29, 1982 in Berwyn, IL. They shared a love like no other and created a beautiful life. Vic and Arlene often said “If I had to live my life again, I would find you sooner so that I could love you longer”.
Vic was a friend to everyone and knew no stranger. He had a one-of-a-kind sense of humor, a sharp and quick wit, and was well known to his community in Stickney and Hancock. After he retired and moved his family to Wisconsin, he held various jobs, but his ultimate favorite was working at Tri-County School, where his kids also attended. He worked with children with special needs and even learned sign language. He loved seeing his kids every day and was Mr. Mom. He never missed his children’s sports events and never forgot the feeling of seeing his children march playing drums on the football field at Mary’s senior homecoming, Mary and JR marched in the marching band side by side, it brought tears of joy and pride. He was a very proud father of his United States Marine Corps sons, and his little girl was the apple of his eye and she followed in her father’s footsteps becoming a firefighter.
We have to mention Vic was an avid Chicago Bears fan until 1995 because the Bears couldn’t win any games, when he switched sides and became a Green Bay Packers fan, even having “4 4 Pak” on his Wisconsin license plate, it was a difficult time for some of our family.
Vic leaves behind his wife of 39 years, Arlene; his children, Sue McFadden; David Skelly; Jameczko “James” (Jelena) Cejka; Marenka “Mary” (Brian) Rivet; Victor “JR” (Jenny) Cejka; brother, Robert Cejka; grandchildren, Katie (Mike) Lankford-Moyer, and Katie’s children Devon and Riley Lankford; Michael (Jill) McFadden; Michelle, Marko, Damian, and Taylor Cejka; Dan and Brian Newcomer; sister-in-laws, Irene (and the late Ray) Komara, Norma (Al) DeSalvo; and many other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved Aunt Helen (Ed) Manda; brother, Joe Lacina; sister-in-law, Barbara Cejka; step-daughter, Vicky Newcomer; and his furry, faithful companion Stormy.
Vic’s family will miss that sparkle in his baby blue eyes, his curly wavy hair, his infectious smile and funny faces, and his warm hugs, strong handshakes, and his notorious waving hand.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to Heartland Hospice, especially the musically talented Emma, a special group of nurses and caregivers Lizzie, Laura, Traci, Kayla; Susanne, spiritual care coordinator; and our social worker Beth whom put in motion a team of compassionate and gentle angels sent from above to give Vic the comfort of living his last days in his home overlooking Fish Lake.
We will receive family and friends on Saturday, May 1, from 10am-2pm in Plainfield, Wisconsin at Stahl Funeral Home. Brief memorial service with full military honors at 2pm. Face masks optional. A repast luncheon to follow at Ponderosa Pines in Plainfield.
The family requests no flowers, memorial contributions are preferred for a future memorial scholarship fund that will be established in Vic’s name.
10-4 for sure, catchya later Dad.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Victor L. Cejka Sr., please visit our floral store.