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Obituary for Robert ‘Bob’ J. Matelski

Robert J. “Bob” Matelski, age 75, of Racine, passed away surrounded by the love of his family on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Aurora Hospital in Mount Pleasant. He was born in Racine on June 22, 1947, a dearly loved son of the late Chester T. and Lorraine L. (nee: Heegeman) Matelski.

He humbly and admirably served his country in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, in which he was awarded several medals of honor for his service. Bob was blessed with meeting his soul mate and lifelong partner, Lanh N. Pham during his time in Vietnam. Their love was so profound, at the end of the war, he returned to her home to vow his life to her. They married on Aug. 14, 1971, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Racine.

Robert J. “Bob” Matelski
Robert J. “Bob” Matelski

Bob was a formidable chess player and puzzler. He enjoyed decoding the solutions to all problems set before him. He loved long relaxing days of fishing and always had a joke – particularly dad joke groaners – with an earnest smile to bring light and joy into every room. His ability to make Lanh laugh was one of the many traits that won her heart when they met. Their 51 years of marriage were filled with exuberance, laughter, and transcendent love for their four children and seven grandchildren.

Bob was best known for his ingenuity and strength. He was superman in the eyes of his children. He beat six individual instances of cancer in the past decade and was perseverant and courageous until his very last breath. Bob had a great love of coffee and science fiction. In his final weeks, he joked that what he really needed was an IV drip of the beverage. Indeed, the last food to pass his lips was his favorite Vietnamese coffee while he watched SyFy with his children, sister, and wife by his side.

Bob is survived by his wife, Lanh; children, Tom (Amy) Matelski (Colonel U.S. Army), Kim (Randy) Goins, Jean (Jason) Boulware, and Tonya (Chris Vlautin) Matelski; grandchildren, Lanh-Elise Matelski, Zakaria Boulware, Mitchell Matelski, Andrew (Meaghan) Matelski, Timothy (Jenna) Matelski, Zachary Matelski, Joshua Matelski; and a great-grandchild on the way. He is further survived by his siblings, Ron (Judi) Matelski, Bill (Marilyn) Matelski, and Marcia Matelski.


Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 31, 2023. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2201 Northwestern Ave., Racine. Full military honors will follow. A visitation for Bob will take place on Thursday, March 30, 2023, from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home. The Matelski family requests that memorial remembrances be made to the American Cancer Society of Wisconsin or Sacred Heart Parish in lieu of flowers.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Draeger-Langendorf Funeral Home.

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