Sylvester "Shake" JECHURA
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JECHURA Sylvester "Shake" Sylvester "Shake" Jechura the founder and past owner of Toledo Raceway Park died at his home in Largo, Florida on Wednesday, November 24, 2009. Born on December 13, 1925, to Felix and Mary Jechura, Polish immigrants, he was one of ten children. Working on the family farm on Dean Road in Erie, Michigan he learned many skills and developed a strong work ethic that motivated and carried him through his entire life. He was married to Sylvia Karnikowski for 65 years and they had two daughters, Susan and Sharon. He and his brothers ventured from their private businesses to build Toledo Raceway Park in the 1949 for the purpose of stock car racing. In 1958 the track was converted to a thoroughbred horse race track and licensed by the Ohio State Racing Commission. Mr. Jechura became the General Manager of the track after the death of his brother, Stanley "Skip" Jechura. Under his management he transformed Raceway Park into an entertainment and racing facility that saw weekend attendance of 6,000 patrons and wagering in excess of $250,000 average per night for a racing season. His keen insight into how to treat customers and his expectations that track employees serve the patrons with the respect and courtesy, kept long time patrons returning every racing season. Mr. Jechura continued to bring new innovations to Raceway Park through the years. In 1962 night harness racing was introduced in between Spring and Winter thoroughbred racing. Just three years later, due to the popularity of harness racing he renovated the racetrack by creating a banked 5/8 mile track. This new track established new track records and allowed horsemen to showcase their horses at a competitive level with horses throughout the United States because of their sub-two minute miles. It also brought many nationally recognized drivers and horses to Raceway Park to compete for purses worth thousands of dollars. Besides his entrepreneurial ability he always remembered his humble beginnings on the farm. He worked long hours doing the maintenance, assisting in all departments as needed, and if there was a hole that needed dug you would find Shake at the bottom. He never expected any of his employees or family to do something that he himself would not do. He always made a point to know the hundreds of employees, horsemen, horse owners, and patrons. It was said he managed with a heavy hand but always had a soft heart. The door to his office was rarely closed and everyone knew him as "Shake." In 1976 he could have closed the racetrack after a tragic fire destroyed the grandstand, but with the encouragement of his family, friends and patrons he chose to rebuild a bigger and better establishment. He brought in the most modern computerized equipment for pari-mutuel wagering, installed an enclosed grandstand with state of the art glass, and created an establishment that rivaled the racetracks on the East Coast and in Florida. He also served for a time on the Ohio State Racing Commission board. In 1988 the racetrack was sold and he and his wife moved to Florida. He never forgot his friends, family, and customers. He enjoyed hearing about them even though he was in Florida. While in living along the Gulf, he spent more time enjoying his favorite pastimes of fishing and bowling. Having enjoyed walleye fishing on Lake Erie, he was very successful of bringing in a good catch from the Gulf. He often reminisced about the 50 years of car and horse racing he spent at Raceway Park with friends he spoke with. His cousin Tom Sorosiak worked with him since 1969 said that "regardless of how stressful a night of racing would be and if he displayed any frustrations towards people he would just settle back and ask me to join him for a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee in the track kitchen. He just cared so much about helping and giving everyone around him a fair shake." He will be missed by so many that knew him as a proud man that was able to turn ideas into reality. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Susan; sisters, Mary, Wanda, and Sophie; brothers, Carl, Edward, Chester, Stanley "Skip" and Stephen "Tony". He is survived by his wife, Sylvia; daughter, Sharon; sister, Helen; grandchildren, Dion Wilson, Steven Suzor, Kelly (Wagner) Hall, Amy (Wagner) Kazmierczak, Carey (Wagner) Manders; 8 great-grandchildren and many cousins. A private ceremony will be held with his wishes to have his ashes be showered onto the Gulf of Mexico waters were he found peace and tranquility in his later years. In lieu of flowers, cards and condolences may be sent to: The Jechura Family 3517 Woodley Court Toledo, Ohio 43606.


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Published in The Blade from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Sylvia Jechura, his loving wife
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20 entries
November 21, 2019
VERY KIND PERSON TO HIS WORKERS ALWAYS
RONALD WILLIAMS
January 27, 2013
dion i'am sure they did ( shake ) was a great man to work for still remember the good old days at raceway park
January 20, 2013
(Left to right) Grandpa, Mom & Aunt Sue
I hope you Aunt Sue and Mom shared a great big hug when Mom arrived in Heaven. I miss you all so very much!

Love You,
Dion
dion wilson
January 6, 2010
I wish I could still pick up the phone and talk to him!
dion wilson
December 10, 2009
My god-father, Shake, will always be alive in my memories! He was a wonderful, helpful and peaceful man! I will miss him everyday, He, as well as my god-mother, Sylvia, are in my thoughts and prayers daily. I was truly blessed with such loving god-parents!
Richard Burr
December 8, 2009
Uncle Shake was a sincere, caring and loving man, a true "gentle giant" that touched many peoples lives. He will be fondly remembered by all, but sadly missed! Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife of many years, Aunt Sylvia. We wish her strength and peace. God bless you both!
Rick, Norine & Jeffrey Burr
December 8, 2009
My brother, Shake, was very important in my life to me, especially when we were growing up. I loved him so and will miss him so much. My heart aches, but I have lots of memories that will keep him alive in my heart forever. I am sure that God will have a very special place for him in heaven, as Shake truly deserves it. God bless him and God bless Sylvia, as well. I will miss him!
Helen Burr
December 3, 2009
For Dion, So sorry to hear of the death of your grandfather. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Aunt Judi Henry and Uncle Doug.
December 2, 2009
made such on impact on our lives, it's hard to pinpoint any one thing.He spent a lot of time with my husband,Ed, his brother and best friend,helping Ed on the track and the garage if Ed asked for help. We spent a ot of time with Shake and Sylvia after we all moved to Florida. Shake and Ed did a lot of deep sea fishing. Ed passed away in February, and if there is fishing and bowling in heaven, I'm sure they found each other, and are doing that.
Ann Jechura
November 30, 2009
A "Mans Man" and a true friend to the Antolini family. Our condolances to Sylvia, Sharon, Dion, Steven and the entire Jechura family.
Life for Karen and I will not be the same here in Largo, Florida again.
We loved him dearly and he will be missed daily.
Dave and Karen Antolini - Largo, Florida
November 30, 2009
Uncle Shake was a great man and will be missed by all; he was very influential to me and many others. My dad Ed and Shake were two inseparable men, very hard workers and very family oriented. If there were a problem at the track you would find them working it out together. My hart goes out to all, we loved him very much.
Eddie Jechura
November 30, 2009
Dion and Family,

Dion, I am sorry to hear about your grandfather. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I think of you often - you were a great kid and very enjoyable to have around. (Remember, I stole Lucy from you guys?).

Please know that my thoughts and prayers and with you and your entire family.

Vicky Huston (Dunn)
Vicky Huston
November 29, 2009
For Dion
As an architect I worked with Shank on the rebuilding of the Raceway Park after the fire 1976. And in addition you were a student of my wife several years ago. It was nice knowing both of you. So sorry to hear of his passing.
Edward Kime
November 29, 2009
my deepest thoughts and prayers are with the Jechura family, I had so many fond memories of Shake, A hard worker and a man of his word. I can remember after the blizard when working on the plumbing in the clubhouse restrooms we had drifts 5' high standing in the way of progress to continue our work ,after geting a shovel to start to remove the snow, the next thing I can remember was Shake right next to me digging away. The memories I had of Shake are countless, and he will be sadly missed. All my love and prayers are with you! Craig Wagner
Craig Wagner
November 29, 2009
Dear Sylvia, So glad you had those happy years in Florida. It is not fun being without your life-partner, but you have a great family who loved Shake and loves you and you will be just fine. Miss you and the lovely talks we shared at the deli and wish we could share once more.
Love, Ellie
Evelyn Majewski
November 28, 2009
Today my Dad John ''Cabbage""Wilczynski
died in 1972.He work for Shake for many years doing odd jobs-,but mostly playing pinocle,which my MOM Willie, always had to get a ride home,from working in the cafeteria,if he was in the middle of a game.
I remember at my dad's funeral, all the people from raceway coming to the funeral home,and also the reception afterwards.
I remember bringing my kids to watch the horses run----------there Grandpa always taking them to get closer view .
Shake and Family was very kind to my parents,and my MOM after i lost my Dad.
I am now living in FL-------only on East coast,and also enjoy it.So glad he was able to also enjoy all the beauty.
Love and Prayers to all your Family for this loss.

Joanne (Wilczynski) Bauman
Cabbage's Daughter
Joanne Bauman
November 28, 2009
I can't really know how you feel. Your loss is so special that only you know it. But I am thinking about you. Almost all my family worked for Mr. Jechura and enjoyed it.
Joan Stordeur, daughter of Stella Peaney, Lakeland, Fl.
November 27, 2009
He was the kindess,the most honable, the most giving and the most gracious person I'll ever have know. I loved him as a brother and the best friend ever. We will miss him more than any word could decribe. God bless this man. We will be forever grateful to him and his wife Sylvia. Our heart is broken.

Love Ron & Carol Knepper
November 27, 2009
IT WAS GOOD WORKING FOR HIM AT RACEWAY PARK HE WAS A GOOD GUY TO WORK FOR THANKS
ronald williams
November 27, 2009
I have lost the most important man ever in my life the other day - my Grandfather Sylvester "Shake" Jechura. He was more of a Father then a Grandfather and taught me more then anyone ever will. He was my hero and the strongest, kindest man I have ever known! There is a void in my heart now that can never be filled - We love and miss you Grandpa! I'm so sad that my daughter will not get to know and realize what a great man he was for herself.
Dion, Lea-Ann, & Madison Wilson
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