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Pixley Funeral Home

3530 Auburn Road, Auburn Hills, MI

OBITUARY

Daniel Joseph Valko

March 19, 1926December 29, 2019
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Daniel Joseph Valko, age 93, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Sunday, December 29, 2019 at McLaren Hospital in Pontiac. He was born in Detroit on March 19, 1926 to Julius and Marie (Coughlin) Valko. He was a 1944 graduate of St. Benedict High School in Highland Park. He was a World War II veteran, enlisting in the Army on July 10, 1944, serving 17 months with Company A, 69th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division in Europe and in Occupied Germany. After the War he attended the Detroit Institute of Technology and worked for National Twist Drill in Detroit before starting his career with the U.S. Postal Service, Birmingham Michigan Branch in 1950. On July 22, 1950 Daniel married Marie Jean Krupitzer. They moved to Pontiac in 1955, where together they raised ten children and enjoyed almost every minute of the experience, including attending all of their children’s sporting and performance events.

Daniel retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1988 after 38 years of loyal service and started his second career as Santa Claus for various municipalities, malls, businesses, and local families. He was an active member of the St. Michaels Catholic Church in Pontiac where he was involved in many parish activities including the church choir, parish credit union, fund raising and as a communion lay minister and was also a member of the Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus and Alhambra Beja Order.

He also volunteered as a Lapeer County Citizens Probation Officer, the St. Benedict High School Alumni Association Treasurer, and participated in the Big Chief Barbershop Chorus and Pontiac Theatre IV. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, fishing, playing cards, international traveling, and camping with his family throughout the US and Canada.

Daniel is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years Marie, his children Diane (Everett) Cummings, Daniel Valko, Debra (John) DeMers, Mark (Victoria) Valko, Michael (Pam) Valko, Marsha (Max) Hoogenstryd, Douglas (Thomas Burden) Valko, Michelle (Aaron) Furman, Deanna (Darin) Figurskey his brothers James (Carol) Valko, Leo (Sandy) Valko, sister Marie (Art) Lydick, 15 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son Matthew (Mary) Valko and his brother Frank (Pat) Valko.

Memorial and funeral services will be held on Friday, January 10th at the Pixley Funeral Home at 3530 Auburn Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326. Visitation will be from 10:00 to 11:45 AM. The memorial service will begin at 12:00 noon. A Military Honors Service will be held at 2:00 PM at the Great Lakes National Cemetery, 4200 Belford Rd, Holly, MI.

  • FAMILY

  • Marie Jean (Krupitzer) Valko, Wife
  • Diane (Everett) Cummings, Daughter
  • Daniel Valko, Son
  • Debra (John) DeMers, Daughter
  • Mark (Victoria) Valko, Son
  • Michael (Pam) Valko, Son
  • Marsha (Max) Hoogenstryd, Daughter
  • Douglas (Thomas Burden) Valko, Son
  • Michelle (Aaron) Furman, Daughter
  • Deanna (Darin) Figurskey, Daughter
  • 15 Grandchildren, Unspecified
  • 2 Great Grandchildren, Unspecified
  • Julius and Marie (Coughlin) Valko, Parents (deceased)
  • James (Carol) Valko, Brother
  • Leo (Sandy) Valko, Brother
  • Marie (Art) Lydick, Sister
  • Matthew (Mary) Valko, Son (deceased)
  • Frank (Pat) Valko, Brother (deceased)

Services

  • Visitation Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Funeral Service Friday, January 10, 2020
  • Military Honors Service Friday, January 10, 2020

Memories

Daniel Joseph Valko

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ilona baciak

January 9, 2020

My deepest words of sympathy to Douglas, my dear friend, and his loving family. Losing a parent is a moment when we all realize that we are not children anymore, we lose the love and protection that has surrounded us our whole life, or so we think. We can no longer ask for advice or relate our troubles, we feel very alone and helpless. We realize that a certain chapter of our life has closed. But we have those beautiful memories that other people might not have, and we also see our parents in us: the way we think and act. Our parents still live inside us and protect us from above. They actually never leave us alone. May the feeling of your Father's presence be always with you, and may God bless you all with peace and Daniel with everlasting happiness by His side. My heart and prayers are with the whole family. Ilona

Jane Paterra

January 3, 2020

Daniel and Marie raised the nicest and kindest kids. I was a teacher to many of these kids, so I got to know the family. I am fortunate to be close to these same kids, to this very day.

I am so sorry to hear about your husband/dad’s death. Know that I share your loss and hope you will find comfort in the memories which are your's to cherish, forever.
Much care and love,
Jane Paterra

Carol McInnis

January 3, 2020

Marie and family, Our deepest sympathy and I have many memories of Fish Fry's and other parish functions with Dan. Dan and Marie were pillars of St. Mike's just ask anyone that knew them. I loved watching my children and grandchildren being visiting by Dan's famous Santa Clause. Laughter and his smile will be missed. He had a musical voice that was beautiful.
Rest in peace my friend, Carol McInnis

Pamela Stompoly

January 3, 2020

Rest well, Sir, after living a most amazing life. Prayers and angels accompany you on your journey...

Elizabeth Voultos

January 2, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with your family. Douglas has told me many stories of his childhood over the years and it was apparent that his father was a generous and thoughtful man. Rest In Peace.

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Biography

Daniel J. Valko Eulogy

First of all, on behalf of our Mom Marie, and the rest of our family, I would like to thank you all for being here today, to celebrate the life of an extraordinary man, Our Dad, Daniel Valko. I also want to thank Father Uhlman, for conducting this beautiful funeral service for our Dad, the Big Chief Chorus for taking the time to be here and perform in his memory and all our friends and family that were unable to attend today, but sent their love and condolences to us since our Dad’s passing. If he were here today, and I hope is in some way, I am sure he would wonder what all the fuss was about. I don’t think our Dad ever thought he was anything special, but this outpouring of love and memories, have shown us how many other people thought he was as special as we all did.
Our Dad was born in Detroit, to Julius and Marie Valko in 1926 as a member of the Greatest Generation. This generation of Americans lived through the Great Depression, they went to war to liberate the world from oppression, and then came back home to help build the country we all call home. They didn’t do this because they were forced to, but because there was a job to do, and they did it. That was our Dad. He did what he had to do to provide for his family, and never asked for thanks or praise. I don’t think you could find a more selfless person, except for maybe our Mom.
Our Dad never talked much about his youth, but we know it could not have been easy for his parents to raise four sons and a daughter during this time, yet my Dad, his brothers and sister grew to be great examples of how a loving parent, Aunt or Uncle should treat people. The lessons they learned from our Grandparents, were passed on to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and we are all grateful.
Our Dad graduated from St. Benedict High School in Highland Park, in June of 1944 and enlisted in the Army a month later, in the middle of World War II. He served 17 months in Europe and Occupied Germany, as a Tank Commander in Company A, 69th Tank Battalion, 6th Armored Division.
He did not really talk about the war very much, and never about the horrible things that he experienced during the war. Like most things in his life, he just kept them to himself.
He did have certain stories that he liked to tell us though. Like the time he captured a German soldier, who surrendered to him at night, despite our Dad being unable to see him, due to his night blindness, and how he used to have to sleep under his tank.
The one story he really liked to tell was about playing football in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where his 6th Division All Stars, Polar Bear team beat the 82nd Airborne Division, Python team. We would roll our eyes and question the veracity of this story to give him a hard time, and he just let us. That is until we were shown the newspaper clipping about the game in the “Hell on Wheels” Army newspaper that listed Dan Valko as a key member of the team that “paced the Polar Bear line attack”. Turns out he was telling us the truth after all. 
Shortly after returning from the War in 1946, our Dad met Marie Jean Krupitzer, our Mom, at a local church picnic. They dated for four years before getting married on July 22, 1950. I doubt either of them could have imagined at the time that their future would include almost 70 years of marriage, 10 children, 15 grandchildren and two, and counting, great grandchildren. They took on this challenge with love, hard work, discipline, and more love. We could not have asked for better parents, or better examples of how to treat and care for everyone including family, friends and strangers.
1950 was also the year that our Dad started his career for the US Postal Service as a mailman at the Birmingham Michigan branch. He worked for 38 years delivering mail, while walking multiple miles each day, lugging a heavy leather mail bag, in every type of Michigan weather. He would often work six days a week, taking every bit of overtime that was available, to provide for his growing family. For many years he also had a second job delivering the Detroit News in the very early morning, before starting his regular mail carrier job and he later had a second job delivering prescriptions for a local Birmingham pharmacy. Because that is what he had to do.
As a mailman, our Dad went out of his way to get to know his customers over the years while delivering their mail. Sometimes he would sit with them on their porch to eat his lunch, while telling them about his family, and asking about theirs. Many of them would even give him their house key so he could look after their homes when they were on vacation. That is the well-earned trust they had in him.
In all that years he worked, I don’t remember our Dad ever complaining about his job or how hard, and often he had to work. I don’t remember him ever being sick or missing a day, other than the two times he broke his leg slipping on ice. I don’t remember our parents ever arguing about money, or the stresses that they had to be dealing with while trying to make ends meet to care for all of us kids.
Our Mom would handle the meals and everything at home that was involved in raising ten kids, while our Dad would just get up every day, go to work, do his job as best he could, come back home and do it again the next day. Thru rain, snow sleet and hail. Just another example they set for all of their children on what hard work is all about.
In 1955, our parents and the three oldest children moved to a small, two bedroom, one bathroom duplex in Pontiac, and proceeded to have seven more children to complete their family, because apparently they had that much love to go around.
That small house was always filled with the noise and chaos that ten children and countless neighborhood kids could bring. Even with all that, our Dad liked nothing more than to be around his family, except for the few times when he would come into the living room, change the channel on “the” TV from our cartoons, to the George Pierrot Show, or Michigan Outdoors or whatever other program would chase us kids out of the house, so he could have a little peace and quiet.  
Growing up we were all involved in just about every sport and school activity available, but somehow, after a hard day of work, our Dad would show up to the game, meet or event, sometimes still in his postal uniform. And this was at a time when it was somewhat unusual for parents to attend after school sporting events. I am sure we didn’t appreciate it at the time, but as you get older, you realize how much of a sacrifice this was.
Even with having to feed and clothe ten kids, our Mom and Dad somehow managed to squirrel away enough money each year to make sure we went on some type of vacation. At first we would rent a cottage way “up North” in Lake Orion, where we would spend all day at the lake, while our Dad would continue to drive to work in Birmingham each day.
Later we started camping and I think the camping trips were what our Dad liked best, despite the fact that we would convince our Dad to stop, every time we saw some sign for a waterfall along the road. Oftentimes the waterfall was nothing more than a small creek, draining over a cliff with a couple feet of vertical drop, but our Dad would dutifully pull over, so we could all get out to see it. He would patiently wait for us, so we could get back on the road to our next destination, never in a hurry, because we were on vacation.
When we finally made it to the campground our Dad would wander down to whatever lake was nearby, because he liked nothing better than to sit on a dock or in a small aluminum boat to fish. He could do it all day, not caring whether he caught anything or not. I can tell you though, and we can all attest, that he never caught a fish that was too small for him to clean and eat.
The greatest vacation our parents ever took us on, was an epic five week camping trip to and from California in 1973. Our Mom and Dad, and seven of us kids in a 1967 Dodge Monaco station wagon, without air conditioning, towing a small trailer with an aluminum boat tied to the top.
We had a great time visiting National Parks, historical sights and even Disneyland, despite having to spend a few too many days in Missouri getting the transmission repaired, and almost getting in a head on collision in a construction zone in Elko, Nevada. Our Mom would get worried when things went wrong along the way, but our Dad never seemed to be too bothered by much of anything. This was just another adventure.
Our parents were both devoted Catholics and would always makes sure we made it to Sunday Mass in whatever town we were in during our travels, and at St. Michaels Catholic Church in Pontiac when we were home.
Our Dad was very involved in the St. Michaels Parish as a member of the church choir, a lay minister, a board member of the Parish Credit Union. He was a member of the Holy Name Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Alhambra Beja Order, and a volunteer for the weekly Fish Frys during Lent. Although I am pretty sure they lost money when my Dad worked the Fish Fry, due to his weakness for fried fish. The responses to his passing from both past, and present members of the St. Michael’s Parish are another sign of the impact he had outside of his family.
Our Dad retired from the Postal Service in 1988 and began a second career enjoying retirement. No one deserved it more after all those years of hard work, except maybe our Mom. I think he was always amazed that he received pension money every month that he didn’t have to work for.
We were all very happy to see our parents take advantage of this time by going out to see the world. They took trips to the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy and Germany, where our Dad was able to show our Mom where he had served during the War.
Also in retirement our Dad started his one month a year job as Santa Claus. He would fill that role for every business, municipality or family that needed him. He reveled in the role, and as you can see by the all the pictures we have here, in the minds of all the children, he was Santa Claus.
I know I have been talking for quite a while, but a person who lived as long as our Dad, and left such a large impact on everyone he met, deserves his story to be told.
With that being said, there are just a couple of other things I would like you to know about our Dad:
He was as content in his life as anyone I know. I don’t think he ever really wanted more than what he had, or was jealous of what anyone else had.
We never really saw him angry at anyone, other than maybe us kids when we would get out of line.
He was never embarrassed about anything and didn’t seem to care what anyone thought about him, even when he would sing the national anthem, louder than anyone, at a basketball or football game. We would all be a bit embarrassed as everyone else just mumbled the words, but he didn’t care. He was proud of his country, and wanted everyone to know it
He seldom did anything just for himself, or bought anything for himself, except for a few lottery tickets, or maybe a new Zebco fishing reel and inexpensive rod every now and then.
He would also always go along with whatever homemade costume our Mom would make him wear for the Annual Halloween Party at the Knights of Columbus.
He would always bring home a box of Saunders chocolates for each of us kids on our birthday, no matter what. We would always look forward to that.
He batted cross handed when he played softball, because that was how he learned, and he wasn’t going to change, and because of that, he also learned how to golf cross handed, even though it made him look like a left hander that was looking the wrong way. He also wasn’t worried how, or if, he hit the ball. He just liked spending time on the golf course with his boys.
And one more thing, at the age of 60, when my brothers and I were playing in a basketball rec league team in Rochester, our Dad ran onto the floor and tackled, a very large, ex college football player from the opposing team, that was continuously, fouling our best player, while we all stared in disbelief, because if you were on our team, you were part of his family.
He loved us, he would protect us, and he and our Mom, always made sure we had what we needed. He also taught us that if we really wanted something more, we should “get a job” to earn it for ourselves. That was a very important lesson to learn.
I think our Mom and my brothers and sisters would agree that our Dad was the greatest man we know, and even though he was never rich in material things, he left as rich a legacy as any man. The show of love from the many friends and family that are here today to celebrate his life are evidence of that, and on behalf of our family, we thank you all.