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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2008

Retired county foreman enjoyed hunting, fishing

Martin J. Okenka, Jr., 81, a retired foreman with the Lucas County Engineer's Office and a former commercial fisherman who also was a World War II veteran, died yesterday in his Oregon home.

He died of complications from cancer, but also had kidney problems, his family said.

The house where Mr. Okenka died is less than two miles from the childhood home on Wheeling Street where he was born on July 1, 1927.

He went to work for the county engineer's office in 1960, and was promoted to foreman after seven years. He retired in 1988 after 28 years of service.

After graduation from Central Catholic High School in 1944, he joined the Navy, serving during World War II and afterward in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Upon returning home, he married Verlyn Hosko on April 24, 1948. They were married for 32 years before her death in 1980.

Mr. Okenka worked as a commercial fisherman for 12 years at M. Hosko Fishery on Water Street, which was owned by his father-in-law, before joining the county engineer's office.

Mr. Okenka was active in the Lucas County Democratic Party during the 1960s and 1970s.

He was a member of the Ohio Wildlife Council of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' wildlife division from 1973 to 1981.

He liked deer hunting in his early years and, following his retirement, enjoyed visiting his sister in Wisconsin, where he fished and caught turtles.

He also enjoyed vacationing with his children in Marco Island, Fla.

Mr. Okenka was an active member of Holy Rosary Church in East Toledo until it closed in 2005.

"He was very parish-oriented," said Sister Michaelyn, one of the nuns who still lives at Holy Rosary, where Mr. Okenka attended grade school. "He was a very giving person."

He was known to help out at the church any way he could, including making noodles for the annual spaghetti dinners, cooking for other church functions, working bingo, and assisting with meal preparation for the schoolchildren.

"He liked the sisters very much and was willing to help us out and do anything," Sister Michaelyn said. "His motivation was his faith primarily and his devotion to the parish."

Sister Michaelyn said he was known for his wit and sense of humor. "There was a lot of laughter when he appeared on the scene."

After Holy Rosary closed nearly four years ago, Mr. Okenka became a member of St. Stephen Church, also in East Toledo.

Mr. Okenka was a member of the Knights of Columbus for 53 years.

Surviving are his son, Martin Okenka III; daughters, Theresa Patrilla, Margie Bramel, and Mary Furlong; four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Hoeflinger-Bolander Funeral Home, 3500 Navarre Ave., Oregon, where a recitation of the Rosary will be at 4 p.m. and a Knights of Columbus service at 7 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Stephen Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Sisters of Notre Dame retirement fund or St. Stephen Church.



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