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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2007

WWII vet known for his stories, gifts of wine

TEMPERANCE Theodore "Ted" Olszewski, 86, who survived when his World War II battleship was sunk and in later life made homemade wine for more than 25 years, died of cancer yesterday at his home in Temperance.

Mr. Olszewski s ship, the USS Chicago, a Northampton-class heavy cruiser, was sunk by torpedo attacks in the South Pacific in January, 1943 just six months after he had joined the U.S. Navy.

Mr. Olszewski s wife, Helen, said her husband was granted a 30-day leave after the attacks, but was then placed on the USS Baltimore, which his wife said went back to the South Pacific.

Mrs. Olszewski said the USS Baltimore saw action in 10 battles with her husband on board and also once transported President Roosevelt to Alaska.

"[Franklin Delano] Roosevelt was on the ship for a week," Mrs. Olszewski said.

Sister Rita Mary Olszewski, one of Mr. Olszewski s four children, said her father was famous for his stories many of which were told while her father was either making or giving away the wine he produced from grapes in his own garden.

A welder and mechanic at the Jeep plant in Toledo from 1941 on, Mr. Olszewski retired in 1981 and ventured into making small amounts of wine.

Sister Rita Mary said her father made high-quality wines, though he hardly drank what he made.

"He would always give it away as gifts. It brought him much joy," Sister Rita Mary said.

Sister Rita Mary said the wine Mr. Olszewski gave to friends as gifts was just one sign of his abundant generosity.

"He was a wonderful father and a wonderful person," she said. "He was caring and compassionate, and he was always teaching us."

And Mr. Olszewski also loved to tell his tales to guests.

"He had the best stories and the best jokes," Sister Rita Mary said. "Whenever there were people over, they d always say one more story or one more joke before they left."

Mr. Olszewski was born in Trenton, N.J., but moved to Petersburg, Mich., with his family at a young age.

His wife said he lived on a small farm in Petersburg and stopped attending school after the eighth grade.

Ted and Helen Olszewski were married in February of 1946, a few months after he returned home from the war.

They were married in St. Anthony Catholic Church in Temperance, their hometown for about the last 50 years.

Mr. Olszewski was a member of the United Auto Workers Local 12, and was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Surviving are his wife, Helen; daughters, Sister Rita Mary Olszewski and Monica Kesting; sons, James and Gerard Olszewski, brothers, Lawrence and Chester Olszewski, and eight grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a brother and a sister.

The body will be in the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance, where the family will receive visitors from 4 to 9 p.m. today.

Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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