Chester C. Szymczak, 94, passed away on March 29, 2012, at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints just three days short of his 95th birthday.
Chester was inducted into the United States Army Air Corps on May 12, 1941. He served his country as an Army aerial reconnaissance photographer and photo gunner. He mapped the Alaskan Canadian (ALCAN) Highway, photographed enemy installations in the South Pacific and was instrumental in resolving border and mapping disputes in South America, including the Amazon River. His geographical assignments included Alaska, Central America, Columbia, Peru, New Guinea, The Philippines and Moratai. His decorations and citations included The American Defense Service Ribbon, and the Army Air Corps Air Medal. He was honorably discharged as a Tech Sergeant from the US Army Air Corps on October 13, 1945.
Upon returning from World War II, Chester founded Caroline Studios, which specialized in the emerging photographic field of children and weddings. He was employed by the United States Post Office from 1947 through 1977, where he started his career as a postal carrier. He was promoted to foreman, supervisor, manager, and eventually held the title of Superintendent of Mails, one of the top management positions at the Racine Post Office.
Chester’s early interest in photography became a lifelong passion. During the 1960s, his photos won numerous awards and were hung at the Wustum Museum. He was an expert in black and white darkroom photography. Today, his photography is part of the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas. His other passion was woodworking and wood sculpturing. Inspired by modernist artists such as Calder and Picasso, his sculptures reflected his artistic views on life and politics. His other interests included gardening, writing and Sudoku. He was an avid tennis player well known for his well placed and deadly “dink shots.” He and his wife, Caroline, enjoyed traveling, dancing, fishing and sailing at their weekend getaway at Army Lake. Many family birthdays and holidays were spent at “the lake.” His incredible mind, creative storytelling and imagination will be missed by all.
Chester will be dearly missed by his five children, Carol (Richard) Nelson of Moorestown, NJ, Robert Szymczak (Phyllis) of Racine, Jeanne Szymczak Timber of Taos, NM, Joan (Ronald) Koptis of Yucca Valley, CA, and Daniel (Patricia) Szymczak of Racine; nine grandchildren, Joannah, Erik, Erin, Mark, Gregory, Alissa, Ian, Alaina and Angela; six great-grandchildren, Sawyer, Neva, Henry, Rowan, Eleanor and Eli. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Genevieve; and brother, Eugene.
A Memorial Mass in honor of Chester will be held at St. Edward’s Catholic Church, 1401 Grove Ave., on Monday, April 2, 2012, at 10 a.m. with Fr. Allen Bratkowski officiating. Inurnment will be held at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to meet at the church on Monday from 9 a.m. until the time of service.
Wilson Funeral Home
1212 Lathrop Ave., Racine 262-634-3361