Vilas Dean Balk|
June 6, 1918-Sep. 17, 2012
Resident of Fremont CA
Vilas Dean Balk was born in Mondovi, WI to Robert Carl Balk and Irene Minnie (Schultz) Balk. The family owned and operated a dairy farm near Gilmanton. Dean and his older brothers, Lyman and Armor, worked on the farm.
In 1941 Dean joined the Army Air Corps. He entered WWII as a P51D Mustang fighter pilot in the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group, 355th FS. Dean was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.
After a brief period out of the service after the war, Dean re-enlisted. He met his wife, Marie Dorothy Raasch, a nurse, in the hospital in Wisconsin. They were married on Dec. 13, 1947 at Lake Mills. The Balk family lived in many places, including Okinawa, Virginia, and Germany. In 1959 Marie said that they were done traveling and they settled in San Lorenzo CA. Dean retired from the military after 23 years of service. For the next 22 years he worked for Hunt-Wesson Foods in Hayward as a warehouse manager.
Dean said that "Age is only a number, as long as you have all your marbles...or at least some of them". He enjoyed his morning coffee and newspaper, a beautiful day, the company of friends and family, a home-cooked meal with a teeny martini, and vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. Family pets knew who would slip a bit of meat under the table for them.
Dean passed away at the age of 94. Marie passed in 1994. Dean is survived by two sons and their families: Thomas Balk and Elaine Barakos of Danville and their daughters, Emily and Sara; Barry Balk and Janet Barton of Fremont and their daughter, Maggie.
Published in Inside Bay Area on Dec. 28, 2012