Paul “PJ” Wanca of Antigo passed in his sleep while under the passionate care of Eastview Medical Center on Sunday, January 10, 2016. He was 79.
He was born on May 15, 1936 in Antigo, to Adolph and Antoinette Wanca. He graduated from Antigo High School with the class of 1954. He then entered the Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Calif. In 1957, he took part in an Atomic Bomb testing called Operation Plumbbob. After his service, he moved to Chicago and worked at Western Electric as a draftsman.
Paul met and fell in love with Helen Czarnecki in 1960 and they married in Antigo on August 19, 1961. They moved to Wausau in 1965 where Paul was a draftsman at Marmet Corp. Paul brought his family back to Antigo in 1967 to take over his father’s potato farm in the town of Ackley. While farming for years, Paul was very involved in various organizations including Timberwolves Marine Corp League, President of Antigo Sno-Drifters Snowmobile Club, Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Assoc., member of SS. Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Church. Paul also operated PJ Construction and Paul Wanca & Sons farm.
After farming, Paul returned to Marmet Corp. for a short period before discovering a new love, the love for the road and became an OTR truck driver. He owned and operated PJ Transit for years where he described it as “the only job you get to look out a picture window all day long and sleep wherever you want.” He enjoyed taking Helen, his kids, and grandkids for rides in his semi and would always vividly describe to them the sites that he had seen. In 2008, Paul had his first stroke which halted his travels. Paul had his second stroke in 2011 which paralyzed his left side and brought him to experience a new set of wheels, his new Electric Wheel Chair. He loved to give his grandkids rides on his lap and continued to be a solid role model for his family. Paul had a hardy laugh and a great sense of humor, he loved seeing the mountains and taking a quiet Sunday drive looking at the fields. He loved seeing all his grandkids and great-grandkids and was a great influence in his children’s lives.
Paul is survived by his wife of 54 years, Helen; Four children, Debra (Wes) Schumacher of Hartford, WI, James (Michelle aka by Paul “Marsell”) Wanca of Antigo, Michael (Andrea) Wanca of Antigo, Karen (Brian) Margelofsky of Conover, WI; Twelve grandchildren, Elizabeth (TJ) Severson, Matthew (Hillary) Weberpal, Mitchell Schumacher, Brandon (Ashley) Wanca, Ryan (Ashley) Wanca, Logan Wanca & Briannah Wanca, Landon & Brodie Wanca, Calvin, Drew & Avery Margelofsky: three step-grandchildren, Jacob & Colton Wurtinger, Emma, Seven great-grandchildren, Emma Severson, Amelia & Madeline Weberpal, Ava, Payten & Lucas Wanca, Zayden Wanca and two more great-grandchildren on the way.
Paul is further survived by four siblings: Marge Galuska, Marie (Tom) Wendt, David Wanca, Theresa (Michael) Hartman. and five in-laws; Jean Chatman of Berryville, AR, Irene Mitchell of Glendale Heights, IL, Dorothy (Lon) Zea of Upton, KY, Joseph Czarnecki of Antigo, Joanie (Joe) Lamantia of Rosselle, IL and many nieces, nephews, other family and friends.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents, a daughter (Diana) and twin grand- daughters (Emily & Anna Schumacher).
A funeral Mass will be held on Friday at 10:30 a.m. at SS Mary & Hyacinth Catholic Church with Rev. David Schmidt officiating. Burial will take place in Queen of Peace Cemetery. Visitation will be 3:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Bradley Funeral Home and 9 to 10 a.m. on Friday at the funeral home. A parish wake service will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the funeral home.