Frederick J. Pienkos, Sr.
Born: July 27, 1944; in Chicago, IL
Died: October 18, 2020; in Decatur, IL
Frederick James Pienkos, Sr., a devoted family man who liked a good joke but loved a bad one, died Oct. 18 in Decatur Memorial Hospital of Covid-19. His life ended after 40 days in intensive care, an ordeal he and his family endured bravely. He was 76.
Fred had a silly sense of humor and loved making his family laugh. With a white beard and twinkling eyes, Fred acted as the master of ceremonies at the family's Vigilia dinners. He brought 15 dozen handmade pierogi and led his large, Polish-American family in the Twelve Days of Christmas, which always devolved into hilarity. A good cook, nothing delighted Fred more than a bargain in the meat department and time spent grilling with a Tyskie, Zwiec, or locally brewed Belt and Suspenders beer in hand. He repeatedly opened his home to pets and those needing a place to stay and was deeply loved and admired by his family and friends.
Fred was born July 27, 1944, in Chicago to Fred and Stephanie Pienkos. He grew up the second of five children in Berwyn and Brookfield and attended Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and Riverside-Brookfield High School. He considered entering the priesthood, but a summer job with the U.S. Postal Service turned into a 35-year career as a letter carrier in Brookfield. He knew everyone on his route and came home in time for Little League.
In 1969 Fred's friends dared him to ask the pretty waitress at the Brookfield Bowl on a date. She accepted, and Fred married Rita Russell in 1970. Rita had children from a previous marriage, and Fred loved them as his own. Raising their family in Lyons, Fred and Rita later had a son. The Pienkoses spent their summers traveling to state and national parks and made annual fishing trips to Muskegon, Michigan and Lake Shelbyville. In retirement, Fred and Rita settled in Findlay, where they enjoyed the lake, the walleye festival, geocaching, walks with their dog Duke and boat trips with their grandchildren.
Fred is predeceased by his parents and his wife. His survivors include his siblings Christine Walton (Larry) of Roselle, IL; Ellen Kramer of Powell, OH; Eloise Sopka (Dennis) of Hatfield, PA; Phil Pienkos (Laurie Lavine) of Potsdam, NY; a daughter Deborah Palz Schnulle of Lyons, IL; and a son Fred Pienkos Jr. and his wife Charlotte of Los Angeles. He enjoyed loving relationships with his grandchildren Amanda (Yaree), Katheryn, Danika and Kieran and with great-grandson Braiden. Fred taught them to sing old nursery rhymes and the Andrews Sisters' 1946 hit "Chichery Chick." He looked forward to spending time with his new great-grandson Draco.
Due to the pandemic and the family's concern for the health and safety of guests, no services are planned at this time. In lieu of donations, the family asks you to wash your hands, cover your face, and stay 6 feet apart. Covid 19 is not a hoax; it is a preventable disease and public health crisis. Protect yourself and the elders of your community.