Wladyslaw “Walter” Futyma, age 99, passed away at the Home of the Good Shepherd in Saratoga Springs, New York, on Sunday, August 2, 2020.
Walter was born in Buffalo, New York, on December 19, 1920, to Franciszka (nee Niekurzak) and Jan Futyma. When he was 7 months old, his parents took their young family back to their native Poland. He grew up on a farm near Mankow (now Mankiv, Ukraine). At the beginning of World War II, that area was occupied by the Soviet Union. In February of 1940, the Soviets deported Walter, his newly widowed mother, two sisters, and two brothers. They spent 2 years in Soviet labor camps and collective farms.
In August of 1942, Walter, along with his mother and sisters, was able to leave the Soviet Union when he joined the newly formed Polish Second Corps (“Anders’ Army”), which was part of the British 8th Army. He served in the 6th Field Artillery Regiment, which trained in Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt. Reaching the rank of Lance Corporal, he took part in the campaign in Italy between February of 1944 and May of 1945. He was stationed in the United Kingdom from 1946 until May of 1947. His Polish medals and awards include the Cross for Valour, Cross of Monte Cassino, and Army Medal, and from the British army he received the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, and the War Medal 1939-45.
Walter returned to the United States in 1947, with $75 to his name, and two days later he had employment. In his native Buffalo, he spent the major part of his career working for the Iroquois Door Company, retiring in 1982. In his spare time, he enjoyed woodworking and maintaining his garden. One of his prized possessions was a pear tree on which he had grafted five varieties of pears.
In 1949, Walter married Helen Gawinski, who predeceased him in 2000. He was also predeceased by his father and mother, brothers Stanislaw and Josef, and sister Zofia Zamorski (late Peter). He is survived by sons Walter (Carolyn) and Richard (Maria), and by sister Helen Bialek (late Joseph) and her sons Edward (Alyce) and John.
Walter was proud of his Polish ancestry and military service, and often recounted stories from his days as a soldier. In 2017, the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper recognized him as a Citizen of the Year.
The Futyma family would like to thank the staff at the Home of the Good Shepherd in Saratoga Springs, where he received loving care in his last year.
There will be no visitation hours. A funeral mass will be celebrated at Queen of Martyrs Church, 180 George Urban Boulevard, Cheektowaga, NY, on Monday September 14 at 11:00 AM (face masks required).
Interment will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY following the funeral mass.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be sent to Queen of Martyrs Church, 180 George Urban Blvd., Cheektowaga, NY 12020.
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