Earl Graskamp "The Flyin' Dutchman"
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Earl Graskamp, 88, of Sheboygan, passed away Tuesday, March 5th at Meadow View Manor Nursing Home following complications from a recent stroke. Earl was born September 15th, 1924 in Sheboygan to John and Cynthia (Ramaker) Graskamp. Earl attended local public schools. Following school, Earl proudly served his country in the Army's 635th Anti-Aircraft and Automatic Weapons Battalion during Word War II as an anti-aircraft gunner in General Patton's 3rd Army. Earl proudly fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium; and was an expert in identifying WWII military aircraft. Earl was the recipient of many combat commendation medals, including the Purple Heart. Sadly however, Earl forever mourned the loss of his very close cousin, Russell Fischer, who was killed in action while crossing the Rhine River.
Following the war, Earl married Marian Schleining in Sheboygan on February 2nd, 1947. A creative and excellent craftsman, who could fix almost anything, Earl took great pride in his work for over 35 years as an auto body repairman. Over his career, Earl was employed by Cliquennoi Auto, Triangle Motors and Leary's Auto Body. Earl then finally retired in 1982 following 20 years of service with Rodewald Buick.
Known by many area racing fans as "The Flyin' Dutchman", Earl competed successfully from 1951 to 1962 on many Eastern Wisconsin dirt tracks including Plymouth, Chilton, Cedarburg, De Pere and Manitowoc. Piloting his 1937 Plymouth coupe, Earl ran well against many tough competitors including Kermit Schulz, Bill Mueller, Al Kaiser, Bob Akright, Gene Bonnet, Hal and Carl Kulow, Donny Diener, Lanny Schirmer, Cully Niemann, Kenny Painter, and his good friend and biggest rival Kenny Markwardt. Earl was an original member of the Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Association; and his last main-event victory came at the 1966 mid-season championships at Plymouth driving Lee Glomski's 1955 Chevy sportsman.
Earl was also an expert fisherman who enjoyed the sport enormously. With 80 plus years of angling experience, he could often catch fish when many others couldn't. He took great pride in creating homemade poppers, lures, flies and sinkers that often brought home his bag limit of crappies and bluegills. He was also innovative in creating homemade tip-ups and jigging rigs for ice fishing. His favorite fishing holes were Sheboygan's South Pier, Jetzer's Lake, Lake Winnebago; and fly fishing at his most favorite spot Karsteadt's Lake. When not fishing, Earl spent countless hours viewing fishing shows and WWII documentaries. In addition, Earl also enjoyed watching PGA golf, NASCAR races and an occasional Packer game.
While hardened by his WWII experiences, Earl greatly enjoyed the lighter side of life. He loved zany, wacky humor and comedy. Among his all-time favorites were Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, The Benny Hill Show, Classic Saturday Night Live Reruns, Leave it to Beaver, and The Andy Griffith Show. Those who knew and loved him will not forget his dry and often crazy sense of humor.
Earl is survived by two daughters, Karen J. (Michael) Klabechek of Sheboygan, and Karla A. Worth of Cupertino, CA; and three sons, Earl K. Graskamp, Gary L. Graskamp (Pam Gardapee), and Randal S. Graskamp, all residing in Sheboygan. Earl is also survived by five grandchildren, grand daughters Kristie (Randall) Richter, Becky Lynn Weber and Adrianne (Todd) Foust. Earl also leaves behind two grand sons, Brian Worth and Delbert (Melanie) Graskamp, and a great-grandson Michael Jacob Richter. Earl is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Earl was preceded in death by his parents, one sister Wilma Zillner and his older brother Allan Graskamp. Earl was also preceded in death by his former wife, Marian Graskamp, infant daughter Diane Graskamp, and a nephew John Zillner.
A time of gathering for Earl will be held on Friday, March 8, 2013 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM at the Reinbold Novak Funeral Home, 1535 South 12th Street, Sheboygan. VFW Post #9156 will provide full Military Honors at 6:00PM. Following cremation, burial will take place at Greenlawn Memorial Park in the Garden of Valor.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Earl's name. Earl's family wishes to deeply thank the nursing staffs at Memorial Hospital and Meadowview Manor Nursing Home for their dedication and care of Earl. Online condolences may be expressed at www.reinboldfh.com
Published in Sheboygan Press on Mar. 7, 2013