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Walter Michael Oszczakiewicz, 64, Clarksville, died Thursday, August 20, 2009, at Gateway Medical Center. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at McReynolds-Nave & Larson Chapel with Gen. (Ret.) Matthew Zimmerman officiating. Burial will be in Intombment will be in Resthaven Memorial Gardens Masoleum with full military honors. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and from 12 noon until the hour of service Monday at the funeral home. McReynolds-Nave & Larson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. He was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, son of the late Walter M. Oszczakiewicz Sr. and Martha Kilareski Oszczakiewicz. Mr. Oszczakiewicz graduated from St. Louis High School, Benedictine College, and then recieved his Master's Degree from the University of Michigan. He was a U.S. Army Veteran of Vietnam and retired from his military career with the rank of Major. He later worked as a stockbroker and investment counselor from 1984 to 2004. He was a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the Downtown Civitan Club. Mr. Oszczakiewicz also was an avid fisherman and animal lover, a consummate conservative, a member of the NRA, and wrote many letters to the editorial page of The Leaf Chronicle. He is survived by his wife Shelia L. Oszczakiewicz of Clarksville; daughters Teresa (Mike) Taylor of Clarksville, Carolynn Abraham of Laverne, Julia Hamby of Clarksville; and grandchildren Kyle Taylor, Blake Abraham, Morgan Abraham, Wesley Johnson, and Leah Hamby. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Mary's Catholic School, 1901 Madison Street, Clarksville, TN 37043.
Walter Oszczakiewicz -- An Obit from a Friend,
Oszczakiewicz. It's the name with all those Z's, three of them. Impossible to spell from memory, unless you were born with it or married to it. One that I forced myself to learn to pronounce correctly, "os-caw-ka-vich," but still never called or referred to him as, but rather just using "Walter," or "Oscar." It's a name that Leaf-Chronicle readers would recognize, pronunciation unimagined, as the writer over the years of countless passionate, sometimes ranting, always well-intentioned letters to the editor. "Walter's got another letter in the paper, did you see it?", my wife or a friend would tell me. In the meantime, Walter would have told me angrily of all the other letters he'd sent the L-C that "they won't publish," which, he'd admit, made him dash off an email to the editor demanding to know why his letters weren't being published. Aw, that was Walter. My friend. Who died this past week after a too-short fight against lung cancer, in the midst of devastating rounds of chemotherapy for which his body just couldn't stand. It was too quick, to sudden; I'd expected five or six months more--more visits when he'd be strong enough to offer his mental sparring and cynical insights, especially on national politics. I'd expected a lot longer to gradually say good-bye, to see him off. Now he's gone, and I can't call him up on a Sunday, back in those healthy days, to tease him, just checking, joking, to see if he was still alive, asking him if he had had a heart attack over that day's George Pogue opinion page commentary in the L-C. Walter was diametrically opposed to, he hated, those commentaries, which would raise his already high blood pressure and get him boiling angry and spouting obscenities at what he considered Pogue's radical leftist, downright commie beliefs. My tease was, why does he read Pogue, don't, skip right by him. But Walter couldn't. He couldn't resist the lure of conflict. The draw was too great. Like a moth to a flame. That was Walter. No one would ever accuse him of being non-combative, mealy-mouthed, a limp noodle, ho-hum, shy. Call it a native Pennsylvanian Polish hard-headedness. He had his opinions and his judgments, proudly politically incorrect, and he was never reticent about expressing those opinions. Bluntly. Adamantly. Gruffly. And, I suppose, that's what so many people probably thought of him: he's gruff. There again, no limp noodle, he wasn't. What's more, he knew and didn't seem to care about the negative effect that gruffness had on people. And for those for whom it was difficult to see beyond the gruffness, they probably had no idea of the two or three tours of Vietnam he did back as a Green Beret in the 1960s, and never bragged about. Of the three daughters--no sons--he raised. Of the complete dedication of his wife of four decades, Sheila. Of the Civitan Fish Frys, where, it seemed, he was cemented at the hot deep-fryer, let alone all the previous days set-up, until recently, as he told me, "It's the same guys doing it every year. It's time that others do it." Ask his Civitan comrades, the ones who knew him beyond the gruff, and they'll attest that one could count on Walter. Some, like his lifelong friends, who really knew him, will affirm that beyond that gruff, beyond those rock-hard opinions and judgments, was, really, a very kind man. For those, gentle is as accurate description as gruff. Gentle or gruff, Walter was a character and, love him or not, no one would ever say otherwise. He was never without an opinion, but never, as well, without a chuckling laugh at the irony of his--or my, or anyone's--ability to actually do anything about it, to effect great change, (besides those letters to the editor). And, for the Walter I know, I like to think that he had a final chuckle, a final cynical laugh, at the irony that, after decades of multi-packs-a-day cigarette smoking, he got lung cancer after having quit smoking these past few years. He'd appreciate that kind of irony. Or, if not, I can see him dashing off a letter to the editor here, pointing out how I in this obit, like George Pogue on a weekly basis, have gotten it all completely, utterly, inconceivably wrong, and there's no two ways about it.
Yep, that would be my friend Walter.
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