Harvey Kowalke

Harvey J. Kowalke of Port Washington died Thursday, Oct. 4, at Cedar Lake Health and Rehabilitation Center in West Bend.  He was 95.

Mr. Kowalke was born in Milwaukee on Oct. 19, 1922, to George and Elsie Froeburg Kowalke. He graduated from North Division High School in 1940.

After school he worked as a press operatpr at Milsco Manufacturing in Brown Deer but soon was called to the U.S. Army during World War II, serving as a tank gunner in the European and African theatres of operation until he suffered a hand wound and was relegated to serving behind the lines. He ultimately attained the rank of sergeant.

After the war he resumed working at Milsco. He also played semi-pro football in Milwaukee.

On Dec. 20, 1947, Mr. Kowalke married Jo Anne O’Brien in Rhinelander at First immanuel Lutheran Church.

They had met on a blind date set up by mutual friends. At the time Mr. Kowalke was engaged to be married but called it off after meeting JoAnne, their daughter Amy Kowalke-Laabs said.

“He said he fell in love at first sight and that it was the best decision he ever made,” their daughter said.

After marriage they settled in Milwaukee.

In 1955, they bought a home in Port Washington after some friends moved there, their daughter said.

Mr. Kowalke retired from Milsco in 1992 after 50 years there.  

He enjoyed bowling, golf and bargain hunting.  

“He was very thrifty,” his daughter said. “He clipped coupons from the newspaper and did all the grocery shopping. He would get very excited when he found a good deal.”

Mr. Kowalke was an avid sports fan and rooted for all Wisconsin sports teams. He also enjoyed playing cards, especially cribbage and sheepshead, with family and friends.

He and his wife also enjoyed dancing, especially at supper clubs and night clubs whenever a piano player named Billy Anderson performed, their daughter said.

“They and another couple would follow him around the Midwest to places in Iowa, Michigan and all the states around Wisconsin,” Mrs. Kowalke-Laabs said. “They would take a weekend and just go.”

Mrs. Kowalke died  in 2015.

Mr. Kowalke is survived by his daughters Cynthia (Herb) Leiting of Madison, Debbi (Greg) Verheyen of Port Washington, Beth (Dennis) Baier of Monrovia, Calif., and Amy (Bruce) Kowalke-Laabs of Fredonia; grandchildren Timothy (Kate), Christopher, Michelle, Katie (Bryan) Muncy, Jason (Ashley) and Brian (Megan) Verheyen, Michael (Tara Tonini), David and John Baier, Justin (Holly), Amanda and Alyssa Laabs; and 15 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his  parents, his wife, sister Dorothy Schaeffer and brothers George Jr., Edward, Harold and Arthur “Buddy.”

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at First Congregational Church, 131 N. Webster St., Port Washington. The Rev. Jeff Suddendorf will preside.  Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the service at the church. Military honors will be rendered after the service.

Memorials are suggested to Meals on Wheels — ADRC of Ozaukee County or to a veteran’s charity of the donor’s choice.

Eernisse Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login