William “Bill” Zahalka, 89, died Sunday at his residence in Racine with his daughter and son-in-law holding his hands and listening to his favorite Frank Sinatra songs. He was born on March 29, 1928 in Racine, Wisconsin to Ladis and Frances (nee Gondert) Zahalka.
Bill attended school at St. John Nepomuk, Washington Junior High School, and graduated from William Horlick High School in 1946. He then enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Japan during the end of WWII. Upon his discharge from the army, Bill completed several years at the University of Wisconsin. During the summer of his second year, Bill met the love of his life at Racine’s North Beach. On June 20th, 1953 Bill was united in marriage with Mary Jo Myers. They enjoyed 18 years of marriage and three children before he lost his wife to cancer in 1971.
Bill was employed for 40 plus years with Belle City Malleable then later named Racine Steel Castings. He loved to talk about his job and his numerous trips to the Caterpillar plant in Decatur and Peoria Illinois. He couldn’t drive past a piece of earth moving equipment without pointing out what castings on the machine his company produced.
Bill enjoyed spending time in the North woods and teaching his kids and grand kids to fish, even though most of that time was spent untangling everyone’s lines. He truly enjoyed his annual September fishing trips to Big Arbor Vitae Lake with his fishing buddies! Bill was an avid skier and a member of the Snomad Ski Club. He especially looked forward to his yearly ski trips out west with his dear friend Jeanne Haas and their many skiing companions. Bill had a full and amazing life and will be deeply missed.
He is survived by his daughters Margaret Zahalka, Casey (Leo) Zahalka-Salazar, son Bill (Amy) Zahalka, grandsons Dr. Charles Zahalka (Dr. Lisa Bhagan), Van Zahalka, and Joey Zahalka, sister Betty Zahalka, special friend Jeanne Haas and many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his wife Mary Jo Zahalka, his mother and father in-law, Marge and Charles Myers, brother in law Chuck Myers, parents Ladis and Frances Zahalka, sisters Mercile, Cleo, Gwen and brothers Ladis and Donald.
The family would like to give a special thank you to the Hospice Team and the healthcare workers who showed such kindness and compassion for our father during his last few weeks.