Kenneth Edward Vrtis, Sr. of Springbrook, WI, peacefully passed away on March 7, 2019 while vacationing in Arizona with his loving partner, Sheila Ganz.
Ken was fondly known as the ‘Silver Fox’. Ken was born on April 17, 1936 in Chicago, IL, the son of Edward and Erline (Jezisek) Vrtis. He graduated from St. Mel’s High School in Chicago and worked at the Burlington Northern Railroad where he met Harriette Kubik, his future wife. They were married April 27, 1957, living in Palos Hills, IL and Brookfield, IL where they raised their six children.
Ken was employed by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, a locomotive manufacturer in McCook IL, for almost 40 years as the Supervisor of Data Processing where he managed the installation of the first IBM Mainframe at EMD that would run the plant operation and business processes.
As a father, Ken was active in the Little League association, coaching and umpiring. Being a father of four daughters, he started the Girls’ Softball League as part of the Little League association. Upon retiring, Ken and Harriette relocated to Stone Lake WI where they were both very active with the Stone Lake community participating in the Stone Lake Cranberry Festival and the Whitefish Lake Association.
Ken was a member of the Moose Lodge and an avid Green Bay Packer fan (despite his Illinois origins). As a Packer fan, it was all about the green and gold from his attire, his bar decor to his recorded telephone greeting. Ken was a sportsman his entire life, enjoying golfing as a member of the Butternut Golf Course in Sarona, WI, fishing with his grandkids and spending many hours watching and discussing sports. Ken was also a huge fan of Neil Diamond, attending several of his concerts throughout his life.
Several years after Harriette, his wife of 49 years passed away, Ken met Sheila Ganz who brought the sparkle back into his life. Sheila and Ken spent 8 years together enjoying their home in Springbrook, WI, attending local concerts and events in the region as well as visiting with family. They are members of St. Francis Solanus Parish.
Ken is survived by his six children: Joan (Diane Brown) Vrtis of Mesa, AZ, Ken (Jeannette) Vrtis, Jr. of Naperville, IL, Sandi (Rich) Chudoba of Glendale, CA, Theresa Gannon of Franklin, WI, Betty (Chuck) Gawle of Lockport, IL; and Frank (Claudia) Vrtis of Woodbury, MN; thirteen grandchildren and one great grandchild: Brittany Vrtis, Lindsey Vrtis-Parod, Kenny Vrtis, Billy Gannon, Shelby (Raena Bates- great granddaughter) Gannon, Charles Gawle, Jr, Joe Gawle, Matt Chudoba, Jennifer Chudoba, Rachel Chudoba, Eddie Vrtis, Danny Vrtis and Jimmy Vrtis; one brother, Donald (Yvonne Dobson) Vrtis of Willowbrook, IL: one sister, Carol (Tom) Pawlak of Elkhart, IN; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant sister, his wife, Harriette (2006), sister-in-law Carol (Donald) Vrtis and a great grandson, Braxton Bates, son of Shelby Gannon and Brandon Bates.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at St. Francis Solanus Indian Mission with Father Gregory Hopefl officiating. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3rd, at the Hayward Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Stone Lake, WI.