MADISON- Ervin Anthony “Anton” Salak, age 106, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at UW Hospital.
Anton was born at home on November 10, 1911 near Gage Park on the southwest side of Chicago, the only child of telegrapher Anton Jerome and Antoinette Eugenia (Barta) Salak. The family lived in the back rooms of their corner grocery and dry goods store. Anton attended Howe Military Academy, a college-preparatory boarding school in northeast Indiana, from 4th through 8th grades. During school breaks, he would spend time with his beloved grandmother, Antonie Fikrlova Barta, and he learned both the Czech and German languages spoken in her home. He graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory High School in 1929.
Anton was a pre-med student majoring in chemistry and zoology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He auditioned into the University Varsity Glee Club with a deep bass voice. However, because of the financial troubles caused by the Great Depression, he was unable to return for his senior year or earn his medical degree. So, in 1932 he travelled around the country in railroad boxcars and did some work unloading bananas at the port in New Orleans. He returned to Chicago, and in 1933 at age 21 he barely survived peritonitis from a burst appendix, in the era before antibiotics.
Eventually he got a job in Chicago as a Tobacco Tax Examiner, finished his bachelor’s degree at Chicago’s Central YMCA College, and began his employment as a revenue agent with the Internal Revenue Service in 1936.
Anton volunteered for WWII military service in November 1943 at age 32. Following boot camp at Farragut, Idaho, he was trained at Chicago’s Navy Pier to be a sonar specialist radio technician. Anton served on the USS Argonne, a Navy repair and service ship, which was part of the Philippine liberation and Japanese occupation.
His life began a new chapter at age 40 when he married Rosemary Olson on December 28, 1951 in Rock Island, IL. He retired in 1979, and they continued to live in Rock Island until 1997 when they moved to a smaller home in Bellingham, WA to be near their son and enjoy year-round gardening. Rosemary passed away two years later after 48 years of marriage, and two years after that, Anton moved to Madison to reside in Meadowmere Assisted Living Apartments near his daughter.
Anton’s hobbies were gardening, business news, and genealogy. He really enjoyed saying that his children were vikings and bohemians.
His zest for life and love for family were very apparent. From ages 90-103, he and his daughter enjoyed weekly outings for lunch and shopping in the East Towne area. Living to 106 years old brought him the joy of knowing that all 5 grandchildren are successfully “launched” in their careers and that three of them got married within the last 3 years. He was delighted by the birth of twin great-grandchildren just 3 months ago.
He is survived by his daughter Suzanne “Sue” (Doug) Martin of Madison; his son Sheldon Ernest (Christina) Salak of Seattle, WA; and his grandchildren: Bill (Sharon) Martin of Madison; Cathy Martin of Hermosa Beach, CA; John (Kayla) Martin (and their twins Ariya and Adrian) of Minneapolis, MN; Elayna (Kyle) Oberman of Seattle, WA; and Olivia Salak of Denver, CO.
The family sincerely thanks Meadowmere, Karmenta Center, and the UW Hospital and Clinics for all of their care over the years.
A family memorial service will be held at a later date at the National Cemetery on the Rock Island Arsenal, IL.
To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com
Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Ave.