Robert Melvin Piaskowski, 89 passed away peacefully at his home on April 9th, 2013 after a brief battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his loving family.
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The Funeral Mass will be at 12:00 p.m., Saturday, April 20, 2013 at St. Benedict's Catholic Church 8110 Jewel Lake Road in Anchorage. Archbishop Roger Schwietz, O.M.I. will officiate. The Rosary will precede the service at 11:00 a.m. followed by visitation until 11:45 a.m.
Robert was born June 4, 1923 in Alpino, Michigan. His Alaskan adventure began in 1935 when his family moved to Palmer as part of the Matanuska Valley Colonist migration. In 1941, he married his wife of 71 years, Shirley Mortensen, at Holy Family Rectory. God blessed them with 11 children: Robert, Donald, Joseph, William, Kathleen, Shirleen, Cynthia, David, Elizabeth, Christine, and Daniel.
Robert served in the Army from 1944-1946, and then worked as a (highly trained and decorated) Liquid Fuel Technician for the Air Force from 1951-1975. After retiring from civil service, he did many jobs, using his skills and Air Force training as a certified Carpenter, as a jack of all trades, while specializing in residential and commercial remodeling.
He homesteaded twice in the Anchorage area: First off of the Old Seward Highway (near Dowling Road) and finally settling a 5 acre tract near Lake Otis and East 80th. Robert and Shirley spent many years without the luxury of running water or electricity. Robert, his family, children, and friends built the original house by hand. Shirley's only request was that the home had cathedral ceilings, which he erected with the support of his Jeep because he did not have access to any modern day machinery. Their home was destroyed by a fire in 2001. A new one was built in its place with Robert overseeing all aspects of construction.
Robert loved the majesty of Alaska. Every Fall, his vacation time was spent taking his family camping, hunting, fishing, and jeeping. He enjoyed getting out of town and heading to Kings River. He loved being outside: ice-skating with Shirley, gardening at his home, and blueberry picking on Flattop Mountain.
Along with raising his large family, Robert enjoyed homemade apple pie, playing pinochle, dancing, and, on a daily basis, tinkering in his workshop. His loss of eyesight never slowed him down. Robert was a faithful auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary and was very active in his Catholic Parish of St. Benedicts.
Robert was preceded in death by his son William a decorated soldier who died in the Vietnam War, and his eldest son, also named Robert in 2001. He is survived by his wife Shirley; sisters Mary Rastetter and Jeanette Adams; 9 children; 28 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.
Memorial donations will be accepted at the Blessed Sacrament Monastery, 2645 E 72nd Avenue where he and Shirley attended daily Mass for decades.
Published in adn.com from Apr. 18 to Apr. 19, 2013