Phil Kafka, 90,
local military figure, dies
On Nov. 15, 1952, he married Blanche Koss at St. Wencel Catholic Church in Neva. She survives.
Mr. Kafka attended St. Hyacinth Catholic Parochial School in Antigo and is a 1936 graduate of Antigo High School.
One of 11 children and the youngest of nine boys who established a family reputation as football players, he was a standout in football and basketball at AHS.
He continued his athletic career at St. Norbert College from 1936 through 1940, where he excelled in football and basketball under coach Mickey McCormick, an Antigo native.
Mr. Kafka spent two years at St. Norbert under the ROTC program and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in economics.
During the summer of 1941, he played professional baseball as a pitcher and outfielder for the Janesville Cubs of the Old Wisconsin State League.
Mr. Kafka's 35-year military career began during World War II. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on May 6, 1942 and served in Europe, participating in four campaigns, including the liberation of France in June, 1944. He was honorably discharged on Nov. 18, 1945.
After returning to Antigo, Mr. Kafka served as Langlade County draft board clerk during the final months of the war, and in 1948 as selective service clerk.
During the Berlin Crisis of 1961, Mr. Kafka and his company were deployed to Fort Lewis, Wash. He returned in 1962.
In 1967, the unit was again called to active duty to help curb rioting in Milwaukee.
In 1976 Mr. Kafka oversaw the construction of a new armory, replacing the guards 28-year-old facility at the Opera House with a new building on Amron Avenue.
He retired from the the Wisconsin National Guard as a first sergeant.
He was a member of the Msgr. Conrad Saile Knights of Columbus Council 1002, Antigo, where he twice served at Grand Knight, the Msgr. Conrad Saile Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly 1214, the Sparks-Doernenburg American Legion Post #3, Antigo, the Leland Tollefson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2653, Antigo, The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge #662, Antigo, a lifetime member of SS. Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Congregation, and a member of the Riverview Country Club.
Survivors, in addition to his wife, include three sons, Steve (Nancy) Kafka, Antigo, Mike Kafka, Madison, and Dan Kafka, Madison, two daughters, Kathleen (Kevin) Walters, Madison, and Laureen (Tom) Miller, Appleton, and four grandchildren, Grant, Shayna, Margaret and Benjamin.
In addition to his parents, Mr. Kafka was preceded in death by, two sisters, Regina and Gertrude Kafka, and eight brothers, Lt. Col. Bernard, Michael, Edward, Florian, Joseph, Victor, Ted and John.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at SS. Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Church, with Rev. Jeremiah Worman officiating. Burial will be in Queen of Peace Cemetery, where the Antigo Veterans will conduct military rites.
Visitation, including a 4 p.m. parish wake service, and a 6 p.m. Elks Lodge of Sorrow, will be Friday from 3:30 until 8 p.m. at the Bradley Funeral Home. Antigo veterans will stand honor guard from 6:30 until 7 p.m. and the Knights of Columbus will recite the rosary at 7:30 p.m. at the funeral home.
Visitation will continue Saturday from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home.