Philip Kafka, of Antigo, died Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at Langlade Hospital. He was 90 years old. He was born October 10, 1918 in Antigo, to Steve and Frances (Cherek) Kafka, and married Blanche Koss on Nov. 15, 1952 at St. Wencel Catholic Church in Neva. She survives
One of 11 children of Mr. & Mrs. Steve Kafka, he is the youngest of nine boys who established a family name in football at Antigo High School in the late 1920's and 1930's. Kafka attended St. Hyacinth Catholic Parochial School in Antigo and is a 1936 graduate of Antigo High School. He starred in high school football and basketball during his prep career. He continued his athletic career at St. Norbert Collage from 1936 through 1940, where he starred in football and basketball under Coach Mickey McCormick, also an Antigo native. Kafka spent two years at St. Norbert under the ROTC program and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in economics. During the summer of 1941, he played professional baseball as a pitcher and outfielder for the Janesville Cubs of the Old Wisconsin State League.
Kafka's 35-year military career began during World War II. He was inducted into the US Army on May 6, 1942 and served in the European Theater of Operations. He participated in the invasion of France in June 1944 and took part in four military campaigns. After the war ended he received his honorable discharge on November 18, 1945.
Returning to Antigo, Kafka served as Langlade County draft board clerk during the latter months of the war draft and in 1948 served as selective service clerk after the draft law was changed. He served as First Sergeant in the Wisconsin National Guard until his retirement. A memorable period of Kafka's long National Guard career came during the Berlin Crisis, when the local unit was called to active duty at Fort Lewis, Wash. Kafka left Antigo with the company in October of 1961 and returned in August of 1962. While Kafka was administrator, the company was also called to active duty for a brief period of 1967 to help curb race rioting in Milwaukee.
A long time dream of the Antigo Guard, construction of the new armory was finally realized during Kafka's administration. For 28 years, the Guard headquarters was located in the old Opera House building in the 1000 block of Fifth Avenue. The new armory on Amron Avenue was constructed in 1976.
He was a member of Msgr Conrad Saile Knights Colombus Council 1002, Antigo where he twice served at Grand Knight, and the Msgr Conrad Saile Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly 1214, Sparks-Doernenburg American Legion Post #3 Antigo, Leland Tollefson Veterans of Foreign Wars 2653 , Antigo, The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge # 662, Antigo, and a lifetime member of St. Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Church, and a member of the Riverview Country Club.
Survivors include his wife Blanche, three sons, Steve (Nancy) Kafka, Antigo, Mike Kafka, Madison, Dan Kafka, Madison two daughters, Kathleen (Kevin) Walters, Madison, Laureen (Tom) Miller, Appleton, four grandchildren Grant, Shayna, Margaret and Benjamin.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters Regina and Gertrude Kafka, eight brothers Lt. Col. Bernard, Michael, Edward, Florian, Joseph, Victor, Ted and John.
Services will be held on Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Church with Rev. Jeremiah Worman officiating. Burial will take place in Queen of Peace Cemetery where the Antigo Veterans will conduct military rites. Visitation will be Friday 3:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the Bradley Funeral Home. A Parish wake service will be held at 4:00 p.m., an Elks Lodge of Sorrow will be at 6:00 p.m., the Antigo Veterans will stand honor guard from 6:30 - 7:00 p.m. and the Knights of Colombus will recite the rosary at 7:30 p.m. all at the funeral home. Visitation will be from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.
Online condolences at bradleyfh.com.