Obituary posted by : Howard Schwanke , friend / caregiver
Howard Schwanke, a longtime resident of Delavan, Wisconsin, passed away at his Lake Geneva residence on August 3, 2010, at the age 87 of years. He is survived and dearly missed by his vast extended family, which includes his adoptive brothers Bill, Dave, and Fred; his adoptive sister Mary; his foster daughter, Brigette; the many residents and staff of Boulevard Manor; his friend and former driver, Tom; and the entire Hapka family of Whitewater.
Howard enjoyed a diverse range of careers throughout his lifetime, working as a farmer, a manual laborer, a metalworker, a truck driver, and a handyman. He also proudly served in the United States military during wartime.
In his final years, Howard’s interests became every bit as varied as his work history. He was deeply spiritual, an accomplished bingo player, and an avid fan of country music and the popular cartoon series Scooby-Doo. His culinary talents — especially his patented homemade chili recipe — earned him local acclaim. He also perfected his knitting skills, using little more than his own fingers to weave elegant potholders, rugs, and other tapestries, which he often gave away to homebound seniors and residents of nearby nursing homes.
Howard cherished his years in Delavan, and it was arguably his favorite Wisconsin community. He developed many friendships there, and he could rarely venture beyond his apartment building without encountering at least a few people who knew him. His favorite local hangouts were Stinebrink's Piggly Wiggly, Goodwill, Ace Hardware, and the Del-Mart Phillips 66 gas station. He frequently entertained his fellow customers with colorful tales of his many adventures, and he never failed to thank store clerks for giving him his “chicken feed” — a somewhat antiquated yet catchy term for loose change.
Despite his fluctuating health, Howard did his best to help others by sharing his belongings, his time, and by offering to help repair broken appliances and miscellaneous gadgets for residents in his apartment building. He also volunteered for Lutheran Social Services, delivering meals and groceries to elderly shut-ins, especially during the winter months. One such errand of mercy carried him into the heart of southern Wisconsin’s worst snowstorm in nearly thirty years, adding to his legacy of service and leaving him with yet another colorful story to share.
Howard eventually moved to Boulevard Manor in Lake Geneva, where he found comfort, security, and an opportunity to touch even more lives in his new home. He quickly endeared himself to the staff members and residents there, through his warmth, companionship, and of course, those same homemade potholders and wonderful stories.
Howard’s Boulevard Manor family honored him with a memorial service on Saturday, August 7, and he was laid to rest in Milwaukee two days later. He has since returned to his heavenly home to be reunited with his beloved mother, sister, other cherished family members, and his many friends and animal companions.
Those wishing to send cards or flowers are instead encouraged to contribute to area food pantry chapters and animal rescue organizations in Howard’s memory.