Cover photo for Jerome Anthony Palasek's Obituary
1943 Jerome 2023

Jerome Anthony Palasek

August 1, 1943 — May 1, 2023

Indianapolis

 

Jerome Anthony Palasek Obituary and Memorial

 

Jerome Anthony Palasek (a.k.a Jerry), age 79. of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away on May 1st, 2023 at University Heights Health & Living (a skilled nursing facility) in southern Indianapolis, IN.

Jerry had been through multiple hospitalizations since December of 2022 and became more frail after each episode.  He tried his best to recover and attempted to do skilled rehab but could not improve after coming down with pneumonia in both lungs and worsening anemia.  He also had several other ailments that altogether caused multi-system failure.  Ultimately, he could not regain his health, nor his strength, he became very weak and God called him home.

Jerry was born August 1st, 1943, in Grand Rapids, MI, to Anthony Palasek and Alvina (Grzeszak) Palasek.  He attended Sacred Heart Church grade school and then attended and graduated from Catholic Central High School in 1961.  As a young boy, he enjoyed spending time hanging out with his cousins, at the Arbanas household.  He had many fond memories of this time of his life.  After working briefly for the City of Wyoming, he enlisted and served in the Michigan National Guard for six years from to 1965 to 1971 which included achieving Platoon Leader. This work brought him to Detroit MI, during the riots, and as far away as Panama, Central America for training exercises.

At the age of 28, Jerry settled down with and married Mary Elma Olewinski on September 11th, 1971, and had two children in Grand Rapids, MI.  In 1979, they divorced and later he married June Wozniak in 1991.

He is survived by his daughter, Jacquelyn Briana Palasek (Michael Hammond), his son, Jacob Nathaniel Palasek, his sister, Suzanne (Palasek) Lorenski, and his sister, Monica (Palasek) Taylor (David), and his first wife Mary (Olewinski) Sullivan.  And, he is preceded in death by his second wife June, and both of his parents.

A good portion of his life, Jerry lived in Grand Rapids, MI, and then briefly in Standale, MI, Zeeland, MI, and Kentwood, MI. Then, he went to live in Florida in 2004.  In 2012, he returned to Michigan and lived in Gun Lake, MI until his wife passed away in January of 2020.  He then was moved to Indianapolis, IN to live with his daughter and son-in-law in March of 2020.

He had many different jobs over the years, and most notably he worked in Michigan for Caterpillar (CAT), the City of Wyoming, Holiday Bar, G.R. Occupational Health Center, and for the Spartan Stores Distribution warehouse.  During his retirement in Florida, he worked as a driver for Kia as well.

Jerry loved to dance and to listen to music.  Some of his most favorites included jazz, classic rock, soft rock, dance and some pop music.  If you turned music on, his foot would start tapping and his hands would start moving to the beat of the music.  During his hey-day he was known as a great dancer and the ladies loved to dance with him.  He could easily twirl, polka, box step, waltz, or slow dance the girls, young and old, around the room.

In addition to this, he loved watching crime, drama, mystery, action, or animal TV shows and movies.  One of his absolute favorites were British TV crime series and movies. He loved going to the movies. For as long as he was able, there was nothing like going to the cinema to see a good movie and munch on “famous” movie theatre popcorn.

Jerry also loved adventure, seeing new things, and traveling to new places.  In his younger years he loved to just drive around the city or the countryside to enjoy the scenery and look at houses, architecture, old/new buildings, parks and everything in between.  During his final years, he always wanted to go,go,go on a drive somewhere… anywhere.  “Show me somewhere I haven’t been yet”, he’d say, or “Let’s drive around for a while”, or ask “Can we go for a drive… Please?”  With the help of a rental scooter, he was able to enjoy the Indiana State Fair for his birthday in August of 2022, and even more so, he was able to pet the horses. That was quite a treat.  And, his last trip was to Siesta Keys, FL and Gatlinburg, TN in Aug/Sep of 2022.  This trip was 2 weeks long, but he enjoyed every minute of it, all the way down to the ocean and up the mountains.  What an adventure!

He loved to wear Hawaiian shirts, bowling shirts, suits, v-neck t-shirts, and bright colors, such as, aqua blue, teal green, sea green, fuchsia, melon orange, and fluorescent yellow.  In addition, he loved to wear sunglasses, watches, and hats, and accumulated a pretty large collection of these items, over the years.

Jerry’s favorite pastimes were bowling, golf, occasional fishing, and watching football, golf, and baseball games on the TV.  He also adored animals, especially dogs and horses.  He missed his dogs, Roo and Teiko terribly.  Animal Planet was one of his favorite channels to watch on TV.  During his 30s, Jerry also had a very successful run with bowling competitions and won some trophies.  He also loved to golf and enjoyed visiting new and different golf courses.  This love of golf began with his father, and playing golf is one of the things that they shared together and he treasured those memories.  Also, for most of his life he was a devout fan of University of Michigan Wolverines football.  U of M football games were considered sacred in Dad’s world.  He was also loyal to the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Tigers no matter how good or how bad they were playing each year.  In 2022, he was even able to attend an IU vs. U of M football game in Bloomington, IN.  He was smiling ear to ear on that day.

 

Memories/Anecdotes:

Jackie Palasek (daughter):

My Dad was a sensitive soul. He could be funny and charming. Other times, he was more of an introvert, and liked to be by himself.  He had a commanding voice, which probably helped with being a Platoon leader. When my brother and I were young, he didn’t really have to discipline us.  All he had to do is yell at us once, and we would straighten up when we heard that voice.

As a young child, I remember many mornings where I was watching the old TV show called the Lone Ranger and my father getting ready for and then leaving for work at dawn.  I also remember many Sundays when my brother and I were bored out of minds and Dad would be reading the newspaper and watching football or golf on our old TV.

During our pre-teen years, Dad would take my brother and I on small adventures, on different weekends to visit and play in all the different parks all around Grand Rapids Mi.  Occasionally, we also would walk around downtown and window shop and sometimes would be treated to a gourmet croissant at a bakery that specialized in just croissants – I always picked the one filled with chocolate – Yum!  I also recall visiting the Fish Ladder, Lake Michigan beaches and piers, Dairy Queen, Mr. Burger, Mr. Fabulous, McDonalds, John Ball Park Zoo, the old G.R. Museum which included the wonderful Planetarium, and then bowling at different bowling alleys around town because Dad loved bowling.  Periodically, Dad, Jacob and I also enjoyed eating food and playing games at yearly events like Pulaski Day weekend, the Sacred Heart Church Festival, the Festival of the Arts (Calder Plaza) and sometimes other annual festivals in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area.

 

Sue Lorenski (sister):

“Happy Trails” to you Jerry…

We sure had wonderful times over the years. We had very loving parents and a great childhood.  As young children, we would get together with the other kids from the neighborhood and play at the John Ball Zoo park (that was one block away), or cowboys and pirates.  We even did pretend mass with the “priest” using Necco’s candy tablets for “Communion”.

Sacred Heart Church and School gave Jerry the opportunity to become an “acolyte” and he was proud of that.  And, like many other Catholic churches, a festival became a yearly event that lasted all weekend. We lived on the block right next to the church, and thousands of people came from all over to attend the church festival and some of them would unknowingly drop coins.  On this special weekend, Jerry, myself, and other neighborhood friends would look for this “treasure”.  We found a lot of money on our front lawn, the sidewalks, and the church parking spaces. 

When Jerry reached the 7th grade, he had the audacity to grow almost a foot taller than me! 

When we were young, Jerry could out-clean any female.  He was also an escape artist!  He almost always would “vanish” from the house, from his Saturday chores in order to be free and go play or hang out with his friends or cousins.

As a teen, he attended Catholic Central High School.  After graduation, he bought a black Chevy car that he converted to a stick-shift and that was his “Baby”.

I made sure that my little brother learned how to dance.  He became an awesome dancer and, as a result, he became “in-demand” on the dance floor by all the ladies, but he remained humble.

Our family grew as we both married and had children.  His life had obstacles and challenges, but he survived.  He kept his sense of humor through it all.  He was a fantastic brother.  I remember that there was nothing as good as my brother, a tall man, giving you a loving bear-hug to remember.

Jerry… It has been my pleasure to have known you.  May the wind on your sails smooth your new pathway, and God speed as your new journey begins.

 

Monica Taylor (sister):

“My good memory is my brother, Jerry, walking me down the aisle of my wedding to David in 1986.

A fun memory is him always calling my sister’s whitish cat “Snowball” and wondering why the cat wouldn't come to him. It was because the cat’s name was “Shadow”.  Lol!

We shared an apartment for a while in the 1980s and Jacob and Jackie would come to stay every other weekend.  I think I still have a 10th birthday picture of Jackie at that apartment.

The last time Jerry and I spent a lot of time together was when Dad died and we didn't want to leave Mom all alone. So, we spent a lot of weekends watching Saturday Night Live and a show named Friday's on the Fox TV channel and I remember laughing at skits until we cried. Those stand out the most.

Oh… and people always tell me I walk too fast, well that is because when I was very young, Jerry walked me to school for a while and I was 6 y.o., and he was already 6ft tall because he was 15 y.o. back then.  And, I still walk that way… I would have never made it to school if I didn’t!”

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