John Martin Nowak, age 92, lifelong resident of Duluth, passed away January 16, 2024. John was born on April 9, 1931, in Duluth, Minnesota to Louis and Nellie (Peloquin) Nowak. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1950 and was a member of the Brothers of Holy Cross from 1950-1951.
John served his country in the army from 1952-1954, stationed in Camp Roeder, Salzburg, Austria. His battalion protected the Austria-Italy borders during the Trieste crisis. He also served on the battalion ski team. After his military service, John worked at the Duluth Air Base in accounting and control for 23 years, retiring in 1978. John went on to work at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in facility maintenance.
John was a devout Catholic and longtime member of St. Anthony’s and St. Mary Star of the Sea.
John had a very spiritual side. He was known as a gentle man, kind to all. As John’s Parkinson’s progressed and he needed more help, he never complained, remaining prayerful and appreciative.
John was from a large family of nine boys who shared many adventures. John bought a cabin on Lake Nichols when he was just 26 years old. He always had an open door to his cabin where he hosted gatherings of family and friends. There, he taught friends, nieces and nephews to canoe, fish, water ski, ice fish and snowmobile. John had many talents and wholeheartedly enjoyed being outdoors. In addition to his brothers and nephews, John had a close group of friends he enjoyed hunting and fishing with, in Minnesota and Canada. He liked camping on the Greenwood River with Charley and Patrick, fishing at his favorite spot and catching his favorite fish, Brook Trout.
John’s extended family was very important to him. He enjoyed being included in holiday meals and family events. John was blessed with a keen mind and liked an intellectual challenge. He faithfully watched Wheel of Fortune and enjoyed playing a competitive card game of 500 Rummy with friends and family. John also competed in the Minnesota Senior Olympics winning medals in fast walking and running. In his youth, John was a champion slalom skier winning many trophies.
John has given us all so many fond memories. Family and friends feel lucky to have had him as long as we have.
John is preceded in death by his parents and six brothers, Victor, Leonard, Francis, Vincent, Eugene and Joseph. He is survived by brothers Gerald Nowak of Duluth and Lawrence (Terri) Nowak of Torrance, CA, many nieces and nephews and their children. The family is grateful to Patrick Menor for his friendship and care-giving of John.
Visitation will be Friday, Jan. 26 at 9:00 a.m. at St. Mary Star of the Sea, 325 E. 3rd St., Duluth, followed by Rosary at 9:45 and Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. with Fr. Tom Foster officiating. Internment is at Calvary Cemetery in Duluth.