Dr. Clarence L. Blahnik
July 30, 1927 – July 11, 2020
The spirited choirs of Heaven have been joined by a new voice, as the booming baritone of Gus Blahnik has been added to their chorus. O but to hear this man sing again! Always with a song in his heart and the perfect pitch and timbre to match, his vast repertoire included school fight songs, war ditties, jingles, dirges, ballads, love songs, melodies and hymns. If one were to say; ‘do you know this song?’ his auto-reply was “hum a few bars and see if I can pick it up”. Invariably he would. Singing was conversation from his soul and he was known to bust out a verse at anytime. Thru time folks got in tune and would sing along. How he loved that! He will be most remembered thru the music he brought into our lives. The life story of Gus is ‘small town boy makes good’. Born 93 years ago in the tiny village of Lena, Oconto County, Wisconsin, he grew up with a tight-knit group of country boys who spent their spare time playing basketball. By high school, they were one of the best teams in Wis. In 1945 they set out to prove it, as they came roaring out of farm country to tear thru the state tourney and capture the hearts, minds and attention of the entire state. Back then, schools big and small played in one show. For small town boys to compete with the downstate teams was unheard of. Consider: after lean, hard time WW2 years, folks were looking for some uplifting news. In the spring of ‘45, this Cinderella team, the Leapin’ Lena Wildcats, were the headliner. When they beat the previous year’s champ to make the final, hearts soared and the excitement was electric. They fell short in the championship game, but for years after folks could not remember the winning school. Everyone recalled little Lena and the farm town boys. Gus was star center and made All-State. His father Clarence wrote the dispatches for the press and on a team of stars he may have tempered his own sons’ exploits, but a big city writer said of Gus: “When Blahnik jumps for the ball, it looks like he is never gonna come down”. For decades Gus would meet strangers who remembered him from that team. He would always say: “You can’t live on past glory”. So he set out to achieve new glory. He graduated St. Norbert College and Marquette Medical School. In 1955 he married a Canadian nurse he met as an intern, Marie (nee Lavielle) , and practiced general medicine while starting a baby-boomer family. He decided to specialize in medicine and studied further to become an Ophthalmologist. He then decided to specialize in that and became a retinal specialist. In 1971 he joined the former Green Bay Eye Clinic where he served a stellar career as the only retinal surgeon in all of northern Wis. He later in semi-retirement went on to serve with the IHS in NM. He went on over a dozen mercy medical missions performing eye surgeries across the globe. He had a genuine passion and dedication for eye care. He loved all aspects: helping patients, working hospitals and clinics, interacting with colleagues on staff and his fellow medical professionals. He always instilled in his children the value of a higher education and hard work, telling them: “look what it did for a small town hick like me”. He liked to play hard too. Gus was a man of many passions. He was legendary for being the life of the party and a distinguished raconteur. He wasn’t shy to be the center of attention, sharing songs, stories and jokes over cocktails while beating everyone in cards by overplaying his hand. He was a dedicated Packer season ticket holder, the games& tailgates were grand affairs for he and Marie. He was a daily exercise freak with a rigorous routine. He enjoyed the outdoors, wildlife, fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, and boating. He had a green thumb and grew elaborate gardens. He liked to carry himself in a professional manner and was a sharp dresser. He never wore a pair of blue jeans in his adult life. Always with well polished shoes, pressed slacks, collared shirt, sport coat and dandy hat to match. He could relax that look tho. While tending garden in the heat the attire was white patent leather shoes, dark dress socks, a leopard print Speedo, shirtless, with an old fishing hat to top it off. Yeah that ensemble was known to turn heads. Our poor mother would look out the window, ‘tsk’ her tongue and sigh about “that Bohunk scarecrow scaring everything out of the pea patch”. Gus and Marie enjoyed an eventful marriage of 64 years. They settled eventually in Green Bay a place he loved. They were devout Roman Catholics and spent much time talking to Jesus about the Packers. If there was a world record for attending church picnics and tavern fish fries, they pushed it. Gus was the only son of an only son. He was preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Marie (nee Valley) of Lena, his 3 sisters and their respective spouses: George and Marion Glime, William and Margie Bake and Angela Marie Blahnik. He was also preceded in death by nephews Roger and Joseph Glime. His own beloved son Robert passed away in 2007.This December past, his wife of 64 years, Marie “Sweetie” Blahnik, went to her maker. She was dutiful to him until the end of her days. Gus’s passing is the final ending to a generation for our families and the next generations are left to carry their colorful lives in our memories. The only son had 5 sons. He is survived by Scott; New Orleans LA, Mark; Green Bay WI, Greg: Port Orange FL and M. Pierre; San Luis Obispo CA. Daughters-in-law: Dolly (Scott), Kelly (the late Robert), and Suzette (Greg). Grandchildren: Austin, Collin, Chase (Scott); Kory, Tyler,Bobby (Bob); Courtney, Katie, Brett (Greg). He is further survived by his Sister-in-law Margaret Irene O’Connor of Ontario Canada. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews from the Oconto County and Canadian contingents. Per their wishes, a combined “wet memorial” (holy water, tears and beers) is planned for a later date in Wiscconsin when the cursed pandemic makes it safe. Please stay tuned to social media or in contact with Gblonz@aol.com for info. The couple shall be interred in Lena, Wisconsin.