Richard J. Sikora (1927-2015)

Richard Sikora

Richard J. Sikora, age 88, died peacefully on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at Aurora Hospital in Kenosha surrounded by his family.

Richard was born on August 13, 1927 to the late John M and Casmiera “Katherine” (Gac) Sikora in Kenosha, WI. He was a lifelong Kenosha resident and attended school at St. Casimir, Washington Jr HS and Bradford HS.  Richard served in the United States Navy 1945-1946. On October 16, 1954 he married Rose Mary Irving at St. Mark Catholic Church. Richard was employed by Simmons until he became an apprentice carpenter building homes in the Kenosha area during the post war years. He later took a job at American Motors where he remained for 30 years. Richard played semi-professional football for 9 years, starting with the Kenosha Redskins, the Waukegan Merchants and the Racine Raiders.  One of his many interests was photography. He loved travel and also enjoyed going to rummage and estate sales.

Richard is survived by his three children, Steven (Lynette Erickson) Sikora (St. Paul,MN), Sheryl Sikora (Minneapolis,MN) and Scott Sikora (Kenosha,WI). He is also survived by four step grandchildren Stafford Norris III, Joshua Norris, Anji Becker and Nathaniel Becker and two step great grandchildren Paige Norris and Joshua Norris Jr.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, two infant daughters Lisa Marie and Lori Ann and his two brothers Ronald Sikora and Eugene Sikora.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, December 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Kenosha. (7117-14th Avenue)  A visitation will be held on Monday in the church starting at 11:00AM prior to the service. Burial will follow at St. George Catholic Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the Kenosha Historical Center 220 51st Pl, Kenosha, WI 53140, or go on line to

Thoughts for Richard J. Sikora (1927-2015);

  • Richard Sikora Eulogy December 10, 2015

    Sharing stories is how we keep our memory alive in the hearts of those we leave behind. Today we are going to share a few stories about our Dad, Richard Sikora as well as some of the stories he shared with us over the years.

    I’ll begin with remembrances from Sheryl:

    “I recall the many trips back and forth between Kenosha and Minneapolis to celebrate birthdays and holidays together. Those many road miles taught me the importance of family ties.”

    She continues, “Dad was my buddy, my rock, and he had a way of looking at the humor in life. The taught me to do my best in whatever I do, to strive to always do it right. If you asked his opinion he was honest, you could count on that. “

    She reflects on Dad’s fondness for nature, something he passed on to his kids. “I remember many late afternoon trips to the parks and lakes during every season of the year. He took us on much anticipated camping trips each summer and revealed to us the beauty expressed in nature. He loved being in the mountains, hiking and exploring. We took many vacations together and he was fun to be with, ever the adventurer and he preserved it all in his beautiful photos.

    Over his long lifetime he acquired many varied interests. He loved to fly small planes and gliders. He was an avid collector of all things, particularly of assorted treasures and memorabilia related to the history of Kenosha.”

    Sheryl recalls his work ethic.
    “Every weekday morning, in the wee hours, I could hear him go down the basement stairs to slip on his work boots while I was still snug in bed. He never complained about going to work and he often did so 7 days a week during the last decade of his working life, so that he’d have enough money to retire.

    She remembers him as a carpenter.
    Even at home Dad was a craftsmen, always working on a project to improve the house, he added a second floor dormer, finished off a rec room, and constructed a 2-1/2 car garage mostly by himself.”

    One of Sheryl’s sweetest memories is of the 2-story, playhouse Dad built in the basement. “It had electric lights, doors with latches, shutters and plywood appliances. Entirely home made, but impressive by any standard. She still loves the smell of sawdust.”

    In conclusion, Sheryl writes,
    “Whenever I needed him, he was there, without a moment’s hesitation. I knew I could always count on him. I’ve lost a father, a friend, my rock, and compass for all seasons. But he will live on in my heart and my memories. My heart is full of gratitude. Thank you Dad. Till we meet again.
    Love you, love you, love you Dad!”

    Richard told us kids lots of stories. And we cherished them, regardless of how often we heard them.

    This is from Scott:

    “My father was a man of many stories, an historian of sorts. Through repetition, over many years the family came to have their favorites. I like to call them the classics. His story about his first experience eating Honeydew melons. Adventures about getting his pilot’s license and flying a Piper Cub. Stories of his childhood – jumping into Lake Michigan, cutting his knee – then having to find someone to sew it up. He and a friend rolling a wagon wheel down a hill and through the side of a barn. Picking onions for .10 an hour. A story of an accident, burning Navy code books in Hawaii. There was a story about cleaning a warehouse and finding a giant spider….others like Seeing Sugar Ray Robinson, and Jim Thorpe as a kid in Kenosha.

    For me the fascination was not so much the content of each story, it was more about the enthusiasm of the story teller, and all of the lesser known vignettes you could discover when you would go out with him. Being in the car with him as he read aloud every billboard and sign and when spotting a particular building or landmark … you would hear the familiar “Did you know…” or “I remember when that used to be…” as prelude to another little tale.

    For me, my Dad’s stories were about curiosity and adventure – two traits I hope to continue to nurture and keep developing in my life. Thank you Dad.”

    And finally my own reflections:

    Dad’s stories were unwaveringly consistent from one telling to the next. For whatever reason, he didn’t feel the need to embellish upon them, inflate them in any way, change their outcome or insist on how they should be interpreted. They were entertaining, and in hindsight, they provided excellent lessons.

    Recently, Dad started to become fuzzy about everyday things, like what he ate for lunch or the name of his favorite TV show (American Pickers) yet he could still remember every address he had ever lived at, and recount them in the correct order he lived at them. So a couple of years ago we drove around visiting each of his childhood homes in sequence, photographing each location and capturing a story from each. Here are a couple of classics:

    The first story takes place at a house he lived in on 52nd Street across from where the American Motors factory stood, but back before it was even there. Instead, at that time it was Nash Park across the street. There was a particular day when a family friend drove up to visit from Chicago bearing gifts. The man worked as a display artist at Marshall Field’s department store. And one of the things in his trunk was the statue of a life size farm animal for young Richard, that had been used as part of a window display. That same day he brought along a precious gift for my grandfather, his very first radio. As Richard told it, the house was tiny and there was only one electrical outlet in the living room. I have always imagined the radio plugged in, via extension cord strung to the outlet on the far wall, my grandfather in profound anticipation as the tubes were warming up, literally bubbling over with elation. However, his excitement was no match for Richard’s, who soon came dashing into the room to receive his department store treasure, only to trip over the cord thus sending his father’s pride and joy crashing to the floor never to broadcast a single episode of The Shadow, nor a Cubs game, nor even so much as a simple polka. Dad told us that our grandfather, obviously devastated, never uttered a word to him. Truly a lesson in Patience and tolerance.

    Not long after, at his next house, there was the time he took a claw hammer and tried to pound a reed into the ground at a neighboring construction site. The hammer split the reed, got caught, and when he pulled it free it rearranged his mouth for him. Naturally he was inspired to become a carpenter, but his story did teach him something, Caution.

    In yet another house, there was the time my grandfather bought him a bike. Not a new bike, but my Dad’s first. He immediately took it out for a spin and as best he could explain it, Dad could not decide which side of a tree to go around and therefore rode his bike directly into the tree, breaking the fork and possibly other things. He was never the best decision-maker. But his story teaches us to Anticipate. Consequently, Dad started us out on very, very small bikes.

    Sometimes we are part of the stories we learn from.

    For instance, deer hunting. I don’t believe Richard entirely had his heart in deer hunting. It didn’t prevent him from doing it, though it was most often a fruitless exercise. My brother and I both accompanied him independently over the years and our recollections are invariably of some feat of marksmanship related to a tree trunk, no sign of the elusive deer, and cold, restless nights sleeping in a car, parked in some dark corner of Wisconsin. On one particular expedition, my father and I were joined by his younger brother Ron, who was even less-gifted at deer hunting than we were. Uncle Ron took up a position on the edge of an open valley. Dad and I crossed the valley and were climbing the wooded hill on the opposite side when we heard a couple of young doe crash out of the woods below. My Dad had the extraordinary instinct to know that his brother would likely get excited and shoot at anything that moved. He shoved me to the ground precisely as rifle slugs sizzled past our ears. Thanks again Dad. Presence of mind. Staying in the moment is the lesson.

    Richard Sikora was one sweet, quiet guy. And he was very shy. You’d never guess that he played semi-pro football for 9 years; first with the Waukegan Merchants, then the Kenosha Redskins and finally with the Racine Raiders.

    This past August, we convinced Dad to attend the Racine Raiders Annual Alumni game at Horlick Field in Racine. He received an annual invitation post card from the team every summer and considered going for years, but was reluctant to, because it was hard for him to get out onto the field walking with his cane.

    Despite protestations, this year we told him we’d take him to the game and rented a wheel chair to help him maneuver around the stadium. He lined up with about 20 much, much younger alumni players, all of whose names would be announced over the public address system.

    But when the team announcer realized that one of its founding members from the original 1953 roster, was in attendance, Richard was granted the status usually reserved for a mythic hero returning from some decades-long odyssey. They called his name out of sequence. With no regard whatsoever for his actual performance record, he was deemed a superstar by virtue of his long heritage, now deeply shrouded and beyond all organizational memory. He was pushed to the 50-yard line and out to the center of the field between rows of gyrating cheerleaders waving pom poms in both hands, as the band played on, and the crowd in the bleachers gave him a standing ovation as his name was announced. Current players in full uniform bowed down to him, kneeling to show their respect. Photos were taken. Interviews done. Before we left the stadium a team wife, fully decked out in Raiders branded accessories told him he was the cutest one on the field. It was certainly one of the best days of his life… and he almost didn’t go. The lesson? GO AHEAD TAKE THAT CHANCE. It might just be the best day of your life.

    The last story my Dad told me was on the evening he went into hospice, while he was still conversant. Out of the blue he looked at me and said “You won’t believe what I saw in the backyard the other day.” What did you see? “A little… rabbit hopped out from behind the garage…and it was followed by A WOLF!” “A WOLF” he repeated adamantly. His eyes grew huge when he told me this. It didn’t sound quite right but I played along and asked what happened next. “They went behind the other garages” he said. Imagining the worst, I asked if the wolf ate the rabbit, and he said “No. The wolf was pushing the little rabbit along…with his nose.” And the story went from horrifying nature special to a Beatrix Potter in an incredible plot twist. At that moment he reminded me that we can always surprise ourselves. We indeed have the power to rewrite the outcome of our own stories.

    Richard, you will remain with us always, informing us through those oft repeated, wonderful, weird and profound stories of yours. We love you, we thank you, and we miss you. Forever.

    The End.

  • Profound condolences to Steve, Sheryl and Scott. So many memories. I didn’t see him much in his later years, but will fondly remember his easygoing manner, his interest in history, and his creativity. He was the uncle who showed me that there was a world out there beyond Kenosha, and I will never forget the camping trips and vacations in the DPL that allowed me to see some of it when I was a youngster. The things he made with his hands from wood sparked our imaginations and provided my sister and I, and all of us kids, with endless enjoyment and countless hours of fun. He will be greatly missed. Wishing Steve, Sheryl and Scott love and peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>