Leo A. Wanzek, age 80, of Fargo, ND died in his home surrounded by his wife and family on Wednesday, April 16, 2008.
Leo was born February 1, 1928 to Vincent and Agnes Wanzek of Windsor, ND, the third out of ten children. His childhood was spent on the farm just southwest of Windsor. There he farmed and the North Dakota Prairie built his spirit and character. He attended school at St. John?s Academy. He received his Civil Engineering degree from NDSU in 1951 and was an ROTC officer in the Air Force.
In 1951 he began dating Janet Lucille Whitmer of Medina, ND. On one occasion when meeting for a date, they had agreed to meet at a specific time and place, while Janet was staying at a farm south of Medina to teach school. The roads had become impassible due to drifting snow so Janet road a horse to the meeting place where Leo was promptly waiting. They enjoyed the local weekend dances of the era and the song ?Blue Moon? was played at their first dance together.
Leo was married to Janet on December 27, 1952 in St. Mary?s Catholic Church of Medina, ND. Leo was sent to Korea to serve as a Lieutenant with the Air Force in the Korean War and was in charge of building US airbases and runways during the war.
Leo worked for a local highway/heavy construction company before starting his own business with Janet in 1971. Upon founding Wanzek Construction, Inc., Leo?s first project was for the US Army Corps of Engineers, building the visitor center at Lake Ashtabula on the east side of the reservoir above the Baldhill Dam just north of Valley City. The building was made of split-face fieldstone which Wanzek?s crews split onsite. The visitor?s center is still in use today. Leo was a true construction man. He enjoyed the projects, the challenges and had a deep empathy and respect for all people. Leo was President of the company until most recently becoming Chairman of the Board. He enjoyed the fact that his son, Jon joined him in the firm and they were able to work together as a father and son team building a business of which they were proud.
Wanzek Construction continued to grow over the years and Leo enjoyed the every day challenges that the business presented to him. Leo constructed many notable projects in the area and across the Midwest including over 100 bridges, flood control projects, water treatment plants, dams, reservoirs, pump and lift stations, Wal-Mart stores, swimming pools, sugar plants, ethanol plants, and wind farms. Today the firm he founded employs over 800 people and is building projects in over 14 states. Wanzek Construction was also recently added to the ENR 400 list as one of the 400 largest construction companies in America. Think of Leo when you drive over a bridge.
Leo was a member of St. Mary?s Cathedral, Fargo. Leo was active with the Holy Cross South Cemetery committee ? he designed, built and donated the gate at the entrance. Leo was past President of the ND Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.
Leo loved his family, figuring and estimating construction bids, visiting jobsites, hunting ducks and geese, skiing with his family, playing with his grandchildren and planting his garden.
Leo is survived by his wife, Janet; their three children: Juliet (Neal) Everist, Sioux City, IA, Jantze (Dennis) Haley, Minneapolis, MN, Jon (Lori) Wanzek, Fargo, ND. Leo is also survived by his nine grandchildren: Anna, Janelle, Erich, Heidi, Maria, Jack and Grace (Jon and Lori), Nik Larsen (Jantze) and Daniel Everist (Juliet); three brothers: Ronald Wanzek, Jamestown, ND, Marvin (Donna) Wanzek, Windsor, ND, Richard (Alice) Wanzek, Jamestown, ND; two sisters: Virginia Weckman , Shakopee, MN, and Dorothy Flynn, Moorhead,MN.
Leo was preceded in death by his parents: Vincent and Agnes Wanzek; brothers: Vincent Wanzek, Jerome Wanzek, Casimir Wanzek; sister: Isabel Maddock; and his grandson, Thomas Wanzek.
Leo?s strong Catholic faith has been a witness to many. He always would say ?Thanks be to the Lord? when arriving home safely or enjoying any blessing with his family–such as their presence or a beautiful sunset. Leo?s suffering with illness in his last days was in his faith in Christ. His strength, faith, courage and his spirit during his illness was an inspiration to many.
Visitation: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Friday, April 18, 2008 at St. Mary?s Cathedral, Fargo and one hour prior to the Funeral Mass in the church on Saturday.
Prayer Service: 7:00 pm, Friday at St. Mary?s Cathedral.
Funeral Mass: 11:00 am, Saturday, April 19, 2008 at St. Mary?s Cathedral.
Interment: Holy Cross South Cemetery, Fargo.
Arrangements entrusted to Boulger Funeral Home, Fargo. Online guestbook at www.boulgerfuneralhome.com