May 18th 1919 - Feb 22nd 2006
Vincent Maciejewski was a family man who loved life and lived it fully. He devoted himself to his wife, children, and grandchildren in ways that showed his true character: loving, caring, generous, and good humored.
Vincent was born at a time when America was recovering from the First World War and enjoying industrial prosperity. Charles Lindbergh made his historic transatlantic flight and the right to vote in a national election was granted to women. Men sported knickers and the occasional raccoon coat while women, who were entering the work force more and more, wore ready-to-wear dresses and short hair tucked under hats. It was an optimistic time in America, especially for families moving from Europe in hopes of building a future for their children. John and Mary (Miedzianowski) Maciejewski and some of their children emigrated from Poland to begin life in Evanston, Illinois. On May 18, 1919, they were excited to welcome baby Vincent into their hearts and home. He was the youngest of eight children who grew up on a farm where his parents worked over 80 acres of hay, vegetables, and livestock. From early on, the values of a close family and hard work became part of Vincent's character.
When Vincent was four years old, the family moved from Evanston to a farm home in Robinson Township that was kiddy corner from Clark School. When Vincent began his schooling, this location was especially convenient. He actually used the school's starting bell as his alarm clock. Each morning when the bell rang, Vincent would jump out of bed and dash off to school. He must have been the envy of his fellow students to be able to sleep that long. Vincent also must have had fond memories of those years because, in adulthood, he moved right next door to where he grew up. He lived in that home for over 60 years.
Throughout his life, it was evident that family was very important to Vincent. When he met a young woman named Bernice Davis, he knew he wanted to share his life with her. They were married on January 4, 1941 in St. Anthony's Catholic Church, where they remained life time members.
During World War II, Vincent served stateside in the Army Air Corp from 1944 to 1946. A medical condition had kept him from going overseas, but once the war was over, Vincent went to work for Oldberg's Manufacturing in Grand Haven, Michigan . Over the years, Vincent and Bernice raised a wonderful family of three sons and four daughters. The children have great memories of life with their mom and dad. For example, they remember picking Dad up after work as he walked out of the factory building with about 200 to 300 other workers. Yet they always recognized him right away because they spotted his particular gait. And who of them could forget the big garden in the back yard with the long rows of pickles and a large variety of other veggies?
The children also remember great family vacations to the Wisconsin Dells, Iowa, Florida, and the Upper Peninsula before the days of the Mackinac Bridge when they had to take a ferry across the Straits of Mackinac. On every trip, Mom packed lunches they could eat at picnic tables along the roadside. And Dad could always be found fishing. He had a knack for catching fish and a routine down for doing it-from finding the worms to packing the gear. He often took the kids out to Little Robinson Lake which partially bordered the family property. He kept track of who caught the first fish, the biggest fish, and the most fish. Often as not, Vincent won in all of these categories, yet he helped everyone so each was sure to catch their limit. Whether it was on Little Robinson Lake in a row boat or fishing from the shores in his hip waders, Vincent loved to fish. He was an all around outdoorsmen. He enjoyed trapping and hunting...even hunting mushrooms to eat. He also fed wild turkeys every day in back of his house. Perhaps they were being fattened for a feast to go with the wild mushrooms?
Vincent and Bernice were active in the Knights of Columbus, where he was a life long member. Together, they attended KC functions to help with Bingo and the Tri-Cities Museum. Sadly, Vincent lost Bernice to death in 1995. Yet he remained active, he enjoyed his Polka music, and he was in constant contact with his children. Daughter Christine recalls that, after her mother died, she called Vincent every day at 8:45 AM to check up on him. Then he would come over to her house for cookies and coffee. Each Sunday Vincent had dinner at daughter Elizabeth's house from 12:30 to 5:00 PM, commenting that this was "the best dinner I've had today".
Vincent had a good sense of humor that he shared freely. In fact he often copied jokes out of the joke section in the newspaper and brought them to Elizabeth who would e-mail them to the rest of the family under the title, "Dad's Jokes." One of Vincent's most often used phrases, especially when referring to the weatherman's forecast, was "I'll believe it when I see it." Or he gloated over his children by saying something like, "Mary Jo is my favorite daughter in Minnesota ." Of course, she was his only daughter in Minnesota.
Loving his family the way he did, Vincent naturally adored his grandchildren. Christine's grandson called him "Great Gumpa", who played with him and taught him to shake hands. Vincent enjoyed his "gadgets"-among them, the talking fish that hung on the wall-and he got a kick out of showing them to his grandkids. Vincent was also very kind and generous toward them. He often tried to pay them for errands they would run for him, or he left tips under the children's placemats when he came for dinner. He also tried to pay his son-in-law Rick Wilson for changing the oil in his car. But every member of the family felt rich just for having Vincent in their lives.
At the end of his life when cancer was taking its toll, Vincent remained in his home under Hospice Care and the non-stop attention of his daughters who lived locally. They took shifts caring for him. At one point, one of his daughters had fallen asleep while the other took over. Around 3:00 AM on Tuesday, even with his pain and Morphine medication, they could hear snoring that seemed to be sawing a "great big pile of wood". Vincent's comment? "Be careful you don't trip over it." Even his grave illness did not rob Vincent of the sharpness and wit that delighted his family right to the end. Vincent died the following morning.
Vincent Maciejewski, aged 86, died on Wednesday, February 22, 2006. He is loved and remembered by his 3 sons, Vincent J. Maciejewski of Tampa, FL, John Maciejewski of Eugene, OR, and Charles (Betty) Maciejewski of Whitehall, MI and 4 daughters, Mary Jo Vokal of Maple Grove, MN, Elizabeth (Rick) Wilson of Spring Lake, Marie (Eric) Johnson of Cape Coral, FL, and Christine (Michael) McCarthy of Grand Haven; his 17 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren; his brother, Boleslaus Maciejewski of Spring Lake; many nieces, nephews & cousins; friend Elma King of Grand Haven. He was preceded in death by his wife Bernice in 1995; a grandson, Brian Wilson; 3 brothers and 3 sisters.