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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Former North Toledo resident worked 50 years as meat cutter

Eugene J. Bonk, 83, a meat cutter for a half-century at Stanley's 5-Star Market, died Wednesday in Harborside of Swanton, where he'd lived about five years.

Mr. Bonk, formerly of Streicher Street in North Toledo, had several strokes, beginning in 2000.

He officially retired from Stanley's in 1997 but continued to work at the store part time for three years, until his first stroke, his son, David, said.

Mr. Bonk's duties through the years included ordering the meat, cutting it, and making kielbasa. He like working in the old neighborhood, three blocks from home, and talking to customers.

"He knew everybody, and everybody knew him," his son said. "He was raised to be a hard worker. He really did enjoy it. He was very, very proud of what he did."

The job was physically demanding - standing long hours and hefting sides of meat. The demand for kielbasa before Easter and Christmas could keep him at work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. as the store prepared thousands of pounds of sausage.

Yet he bore it all despite lasting discomfort or worse from a bullet lodged in his back during World War II combat.

"He was a rugged guy," his son said.

Mr. Bonk was the son of Polish immigrants, the second youngest of nine.

His father "told his kids to get into something pertaining to food - they were all milkmen or [worked in] bakeries or [were] meat cutters - as a way to feed the family," Eugene's son said.

He attended Woodward High School. He left to work at about 14, and he worked in corner markets as a stockboy before he became a meat cutter.

He was in the Army during World War II, took part in the Normandy invasion, and received a Purple Heart.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and bowled in a K of C league. He didn't have much time for hobbies, but he enjoyed spending time with his family at their cottage on Marble Lake near Coldwater, Mich.

"He was a terrific father," his son said. "He was very protective of my mother. That was his No. 1 thing."

Mr. Bonk and his wife, Sylvia, married in May, 1946. She died in June, 2003.

Surviving are son David Bonk; sisters, Rose Wiczynski and Phil Zielaskowski; two grandsons, and a great-grandson.

The body will be in Gasiorowski & Cook Memorial from 6 to 9 tonight, with a prayer service in the mortuary at 6:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in St. Adalbert Church, of which he was a longtime member.

The family suggests tributes to the church.



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