John Blaha, 94, passed away at Westview Nursing Home in Sheridan, Wyoming on December 26, 2010. He was born in Chicago on August 10th, 1916 to Czechoslovakian immigrants John and Marie (Holek) Blaha. When he started school John could not speak English and a neighbor interpreted for him. In 1932 at the age of 16 he quit school and went to work during the depression.
John married Lorraine Grubb on April 12, 1941 in Chicago and she was his sweetheart for 69 years. In 1943 duty called and John was drafted into the U.S. Army during WWII. He first was a driver, in the Anti-Aircraft Motor Pool before being shipped to Europe with the 87th Acorn Infantry Division. He was in the Battles of the Bulge, Central Europe and the Rhineland Campaign.
After the War John returned to Illinois, became a carpenter and raised a family in Bridgeview, Illinois. In 1961 he started his own residential construction business Blaha Builders which he operated until his retirement to Mesa, Arizona. He was early to bed and early to rise, and his work ethic was impeccable. More importantly, he knew when to quit work, relax and enjoy the family at the evening dinner table where attendance was mandatory.
In retirement he restored a 1941 Ford Prototype Jeep which was his “Mona Lisa” and the vehicle now resides in the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia. He enjoyed driving it in parades and showing it at vintage military vehicle shows around the country, where he won several awards.
Also in retirement he and Lorraine enjoyed traveling the U.S. with their travel trailer, retreating to Mesa as snowbirds for the winter. In 2002 they moved to Sugarland Ridge Senior Community in Sheridan to be closer to family.
John was a retired 50 year member of the Carpenters Union Local One in Illinois, a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, the 87th Infantry Division Legacy Association and the Good Sam Club.
He was preceded in death by a brother Edward, a sister Mildred Pushee and a granddaughter Audrey Blaha. He is survived by his wife Lorraine, sons John A. Blaha (Susie) of Boulder, WY and James A. Blaha (Peggy) of Sheridan, WY. He is also survived by grandchildren Jamie Blaha (Stacey) of Casper, WY, Kristi Kainer (Clay) of Boulder, WY, Nick and Barry Blaha of Houston Texas, and Julianne Blaha of Laramie, WY.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 at 2 p.m at Champion Ferries Funeral Home, Sheridan. Interment will be in the Sheridan Municipal Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Camp Story Scholarship Program in care of First Presbyterian Church, Sheridan.