Edward Hlavinka died Thursday (Dec. 11, 2008) at the Hillcrest Nursing Home in McCook at the age of 85.
He was born on a farm near Ord, Neb., in Valley County on Jan. 4, 1923, the son of Frank and Mary (Dohnal) Hlavinka. He went to country school which was during the time of the Great Depression, drought, dust storms, grass hoppers and heat.
After high school he made a hard decision if he should stay on the farm with his two brothers or leave home and seek employment elsewhere. He chose to find a job in Omaha where he worked for a company manufacturing equipment for the army. At age 19, he bought his first car.
He then went to Kearney where he worked on the construction of the Army Air Force Base. He worked there until the base was finished.
On Jan, 24, 1944, he married Geraldine Mary Miller of Horace, Neb., and they made their home in Grand Island, Neb. The years following brought them three children, Dave, Gerald and Lynda.
On Sept. 9, 1944, he entered the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, Texas for Infantry training. On Dec. 22, 1944, he was given a furlough to spend Christmas with his family and friends in Nebraska. From there he took a train on Dec. 31, 1944, to San Francisco, Calif., for shipping out to the Southwest Pacific Philippine Islands.
He served on Leyte Island and the Island of Luzon. On May 18, 1945, he was wounded in the mountains of Northern Luzon. He was hospitalized in Luzon and Leyte Island. From there he was flown back to a San Francisco hospital and then to the Bushnell General Hospital in Brigham City, Utah. He was given a 90-day furlough and while at home President Truman announced on Aug.15, 1945, an unconditional surrender to the United States of America from the Japanese government. He was given an Honorable Discharge on Dec. 13, 1945, and awarded with the Purple Heart.
Until 1949, he worked various jobs. In September of 1949, he started working for the Bureau of Reclamation in Grand Island. In 1952, he transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation in McCook and it is here he retired after almost 34 years with the bureau.
He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also served as the Commander of Chapter 11 of the Disabled American Veterans in Grand Island. It was during his term, as Commander, that he served on the dedication committee when the Veteran's Hospital was completed. He was also the Commander of the Cooties. They were composed of the McCook, Indianola and Culbertson VFW members. At Christmas time the Cooties made special trips to give gifts to Veterans at the Veterans Hospital in Grand Island. They were also in several parades. He served as Service Officer for the Veteran's and their families when he lived in Indianola and after he moved to McCook.
Through the NVA (Nebraska Veterans Aid), he was able to help out many families with food, heating bills, medical, lodging and gasoline. For 47 years he was a member of the McCook Elks Lodge and received his life membership and was a member of the Eagles.
His hobbies consisted of camping, hunting and fishing. He earned his Master's Angler Award for a Walleye he caught. He taught his two sons how to fish and hunt which they both have enjoyed through their adult lives.
He had been dealing with heart problems for many years. Then after a long battle, he finally succumbed to cancer of the esophagus and lungs.
He was preceded in death by one sister, Frances Holzinger and brothers, Robert, George, John, Frank Jr. and an infant brother, Joe.
He is survived by his wife, Geraldine Mary Hlavinka of McCook; two sons, David Hlavinka and wife, Clara Mae of Custer, S.D., and Gerald Hlavinka of Trenton, Neb.; one daughter, Lynda Fine and husband, Bob of Littleton, Colo.; seven grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews and friends.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m., Thursday Dec. 18, 2008, at Memorial United Methodist Church in McCook with the Rev. Dr. Jeffery Thurman officiating. Interment will be in Memorial Park Cemetery in McCook.
Memorials may be given in his name and friends may call at Herrmann Funeral Home from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Herrmann Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.