Retired U.S. Army Col. Frank V. Babka, 90, of Swansea, Ill., passed away Tuesday, April 22, 2014.
Frank was a member of Ironworkers Local 392, East St. Louis, Ill., for more than 60 years. He was an instructor in the apprentice program for Local 392 and taught blueprint reading for many years, training hundreds of students who later became skilled journeymen ironworkers. Frank served with the 349th Infantry, 88th Division, (the famed "Blue Devils") in Italy in World War II, and landed at Anzio BeachHead. (He admitted that he was once fined $25 by General George Smith Patton for not wearing a helmet.) The Blue Devils Division saw 344 days of combat, but Frank never talked about it, he just talked about how beautiful Italy was. He also became a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force, receiving flight training at Mira Loma Flight Academy, in Lancaster, Calif., where he flew Stearmans and PT-13 Bs and Ds, as a member of 3043D AAF BASE UNIT.
Frank attended SIU Carbondale, Ill., Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, Engineer School, Fort Belvior, Va., the Command and General Staff College, Leavenworth, Kan., and the Industrial College of Armed Forces, Fort Leslie McNair. He completed the Naval Amphibious School, Little Creek, and Amphibious Warfare Indoctrination in 1975. He also served as an instructor at the Command and General Staff College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and Belleville Area College.
Above all, Frank loved and respected the working men and women of the ironworkers, who built the bridges, the sky-scrapers, the factories, the steel mills, refineries, powerhouses, and the architectural triumphs of this great land like the Arch, the Clark Bridge, the "Stan Span" and all the rest of the industrial works of art that we take for granted. He would do anything for another ironworker, and frequently did.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Imogene Irene Babka, nee Neihaus; his father, Frank Babka; wife, Anne Katherine Babka, nee Samoska; sister, Frances Virgina Wilson; nephews, Walter Samoska and Terrence Jennings; and numerous other in-laws and relatives.
Surviving are his children, Frank "Timmy" (Nina) Babka, Barbara Babka (Ted Williams), and Brian (Claire) Babka; grandchildren, Jessica Babka, Stephanie Babka, and Jennifer Babka; brother-in-law, Walter (Bernice) Samoska; sisters-in-law, Pauline Samoska and Bernice (Norman) Sackett; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Special thanks extended to the wonderful workers, staff, nurses, administration, and assistants at Sycamore Village, Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc., Dr. Elizabeth Stewart, and the emergency room doctors, nurses, and staff at Memorial Hospital.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.kasslyfuneral.com.
Visitation: Friends may call from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Kassly Mortuary, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Kassly Mortuary Chapel, Fairview Heights, Ill., with Father Clyde Grogan officiating. Interment will be in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Belleville, Ill.
KASSLY MORTUARY, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Kassly Mortuary, Ltd.
9900 St. Clair Avenue Fairview Heights, IL 62208
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Apr. 25, 2014