Popelka Sr., George M.
The story of George began on February 10,1924 as the son of Martin and Mae Popelka of Cicero, Illinois. George had a younger brother (Martin) who although deceased, was a physicist and spent his career in the aerospace and defense industry. As a young man , George was very athletic and achieved distinction on the baseball field as a pitcher for the Berwyn Post 422 American Legion Baseball Team during 1941, when his team made the finals of the Legion Series played in San Diego, California. He also was an accomplished wrestler, winning the ISHA 155-pound middleweight class title during 1941 in Champaign, Illinois, representing J. Sterling Morton High School. During that year, George won his weight class with a series of 15 straight victories. During 1943, George entered the United States Navy during World War II and served in the Pacific Theatre aboard an LST, Tank Landing Ship, as a Bosun Mate Second Class. After the war, George returned to Cicero, Illinois where he both attended and played football for the Panthers of Morton Junior College. As a strong believer in education, George obtained his Associates Degree from Morton Junior College and then furthered his education by earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of New Mexico in 1950. Having earned his Bachelor’s Degree, he subsequently pursued and received a Master of Arts Degree from Northwestern University in 1954. George pursued a career in education beginning as a Sixth Grade Teacher at the Tobin School within School District 111, Burbank, Illinois. After beginning his career, he continued to serve for thirty-five years both as a teacher and then appointed principal, for the new Owens School in 1956. After that, he was moved to the John Foster Dulles School in 1960 now Liberty Junior High School, and finished his career in 1983 as principal of the Frances B. McCord School. One of his career highlights was meeting his future partner in life, Ms. Mary Ann Busch. Upon graduation she also began her career as a primary school teacher in School District 111, Burbank, Illinois where she met her future husband George, to whom she married and spent sixty-seven (67) wonderful years together. They became engaged on May 9, 1951, Mary Ann’s birthday and had one son, George, Jr. After retirement both George and Mary Ann were very active and celebrated their fiftieth (50) wedding anniversary by renewing vows aboard the Paul Gauguin off the coast of Bora-Bora. They would walk everyday at the Orland Mall when able and after their daily exercise, they would sit down and have a treat. Once completed George would talk with his fellow mall-walkers while Mary Ann would go shopping. George also was an avid golfer. His proudest moment on the golf course came on October 4, 1997 at Big Run Golf Club when he experienced a hole-in-one on Number 7, with his trusted five iron. Although the hole has since been changed, his ace came on the original green that was slanted downward toward the tee. George’s story sadly ended on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 6:40am. George will be missed by our caregivers (Izabella and Richard) as well as all of his former students and colleagues.
On a personal note, George and Mary Ann were my rock. They both provided for our family and brought joy into my life as well as the lives of many others that will be treasured forever. I shall miss my Dad and Mom who loved me very much and served as my Best Friends. Visitation Sunday, July 19th from 2 until 8 p.m. Chapel prayers Monday, July 20th, 9:45 a.m. at the KERRY FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION CARE CENTER, 7020 W. 127th Street, Palos Heights proceeding to Sacred Heart Church, Mass 10:30 a.m. Phase 4 COVID 19 mandates; masks are required to attend the funeral services; no loitering is allowed in order to accommodate all guests paying their respects. If you will be attending mass, please provide your name and phone for the church using this form https://forms.gle/UJy5nsTmEBMxTPXi6 Interment Sacred Heart Cemetery.
Sign Guest Book at legacy.suntimes.com