John F. Check, 91, a Rosholt area native and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UW-O) professor who led a polka band for nearly 60 years, died Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at the Sanford Medical Center in Vermillion, S.D..
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Agnes Church in Vermillion, S.D.
Visitation will be at the church from 6 p.m. Monday until the Mass.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 13, at St. Raphael Church in Oshkosh, Wis. Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Oshkosh.
Visitation will be at St. Raphael Church from at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 13, until the service.
Funeral arrangements in Vermillion were by Hansen Funeral Home, and in Oshkosh by Fiss and Bills Poklasny Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to St. Agnes Church or St. Raphael Church.
Mr. Check was born Aug. 22, 1921, on the family farm outside Rosholt, the youngest son of Joseph and Valeria (Kiezewski) Check.
He started his teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse while still in his teens. He went on to earn a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1959.
He taught at the University of Michigan-Flint for seven years before coming in 1966 to the UW-O, where he taught for more than 20 years. In 1969, he received the UW-O Distinguished Teaching Award, and was named to the Outstanding Educators of America in 1970. He was sought after for speeches and seminars and wrote a number of articles published in scholarly educational journals.
He was married to Teckla Kurzinski. She died in 1988.
For nearly 60 years he led his own dance band, producing numerous recordings on 78s, LP albums and CDs. He wrote more than 200 compositions in the polka/waltz idiom, with his first, the “Two Eddies Polka,” recorded by numerous bands.
Works of his have been placed in the Mills Music Library of the Wisconsin State Archives and in archives of the National Music Museum in South Dakota. One of his CDs received honorable mention in the folk music category and was acquired by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
He received many accolades for his musical avocation, including the Concertina Hall of Fame in 1981, the International Polka Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Wisconsin Polka Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. With the Michigan Dutchmen and later with the Wisconsin Dutchmen, he appeared on a weekly TV show for more than a decade. He also hosted a radio show at various stations featuring “the best in recorded polka music.”
He moved to Vermillion, S.D., in 2009, to be closer to his daughter, Debbie.
While in Vermillion, he continued to entertain with his music and would often serve as a reader at St. Agnes Church.
Survivors include two sons, Gregory, Cambridge, Mass., and John David, Warrensburg, Mo.; two daughters, Deborah Reeves, Vermillion, S.D., and Patricia, Oshkosh; and two grandchildren.