Bernard J. Budzinski

Bernard J. Budzinski
Bernard J. “Ben” Budzinski of Otsego, Michigan passed away Sunday, July 27, 2008 in Plainwell. Ben was born July 27, 1913 in Paw Paw, MI the son of John and Antoinette (Zurawski) Budzinski. He was working in a Ferris Foundry in Kalamazoo when he got pneumonia and was hospitalized. While still recuperating, his doctor advised him to find another job, and not go back to the foundry or he would end up back in the hospital. That was in the spring of 1936 in the middle of the great depression and jobs were hard to get. His lifelong friend from Paw Paw, Joe Kobe, told him about a paper mill over in Otsego that some guy from Wisconsin was trying to get re-started after a period of inactivity. Joe’s brother had been offered a job there as a pipe fitter, but he already had a job. Joe suggested that if Ben took some pipe wrenches in a tool box and told them he was Kobe, he’d probably get hired on. And that’s what he did, and got hired. However, it didn’t take long for the plant manager to catch on. “Ben Kobe, you’re not much of a pipe fitter, but you’re a good worker; how would you like to be a turbine operator?” Ben’s lack of experience with power turbines didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for a weekly paycheck, so he quickly accepted the offer of another career-broadening move. He continued to be known at the mill as Ben Kobe until 1937 when Social Security became the law of the land and all workers had to sign up and get a number. That’s when Ben was forced to set the record straight and tell the boss that he was actually Ben Budzinski. For years after, some old co-workers and friends continued to call him Ben Kobe. He retired from the mill in 1977 with 41 years of service. His hobbies were fishing, family and neighbors. On July 10, 1935 in East Chicago, IL, Ben married Irene Lillian Wawrzyniak who preceded him in death in 2002. Ben is survived by two sons; Norb (Carol) Budzinski of Penn Valley, CA and Bernard “Bernie” Budzinski of San Jose, CA; his grandchildren; Mark Budzinski of Sacramento, CA, Janice (Ken) Kaley of Nashville, TN, Dr. Jessie Budzinski of Chicago, IL; two great-grandchildren, Jack and Brett Kaley of Nashville, TN; a brother, John Budzinski of Santa Barbara, CA and a sister, Mary Bonarski of PawPaw. He was also preceded in death by his parents and his sisters, Victoria Matecki, Carrie Madigan, Daisy Rop Locke, and Helen Budzinski. Friends may meet with the family Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8 P.M at Winkel Funeral Home with a Scripture Service at 7:30 P.M. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, 11:00 A.M. at St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, Otsego, Rev. Fr. Donald P. Klingler celebrant. Interment will follow at St. Margaret’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to St. Margaret’s School Fund.
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