Robert Earl Kratz, of Winona, Minn., and formerly of Buffalo City, Wis., passed away peacefully on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Lake Winona Manor, just three days after celebrating his 80th birthday.
He was born on July 31, 1938, in Winona, Minn., to Earl and Bernice (Wiczek) Kratz. Bob was a 1956 graduate of Cotter High School, and following in his father’s footsteps, began working at Watkins Products. He continued being employed there for 32 years, until the closing of the printing department. He was also employed by the Winona School District 861 and Goodson Manufacturing, from which he retired in 2003. In his younger days, he played slow-pitched softball and enjoyed small-game hunting. In his leisure time, Bob enjoyed watching all sports and was a die-hard Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins fan, even having lived in Wisconsin for several years.
On October 12, 1963, Bob married Geraldine Peplinski at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Winona. They divorced after 32 years, but maintained a caring friendship for each other throughout Bob’s life and shared a love for their son, Jonathan.
Bob was a member of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and the Catholic Order of Foresters for 68 years. From 1956-1984 he was a member of the Winona National Guard. He was an avid bowler and in 1982 was made a life member of the Winona Bowling Association Hall of Fame. Bob was an active life member of the Winona Elks Lodge for 45 years and previously held the office of Tiler. He was named officer of the year in 2002-2003, and also nominated Elk of the Year in 2010-2011. He treasured the many friendships he made at the lodge. Bob was also a member of the American Legion for 10 years.
Bob is survived by his son, Jonathan; former wife and best friend, Geraldine Kratz; brother-in-law, Dan Peplinski; sister-in-law, Mary Jo Hanson; niece, Melissa Hanson; and special friends, Eric, Tiffany and Parker Beck.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Bernice Kratz; maternal grandparents, Louis and Susan Wiczek; paternal grandparents, Robert and Ann Kratz; as well as numerous other relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 11, 2018, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where an Elks Service will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by the celebration of a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. The Reverend Monsignor Thomas J. Hargesheimer will officiate. Following the Mass, the American Legion Leon J. Wetzel Post 9 of Winona will provided military honors outside the cathedral. Bob will be laid to rest in a family ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery at a later date.
The family would like to thank the entire staff at Gundersen Health System that gave Bob such compassionate care during his nine-month bout with pancreatic cancer. Special thanks to Dr. Travis Smith for his exemplary services. Many thanks to the Winona Area Hospice and Lake Winona Manor Staff for the quality care and kindness they provided to Bob and his family during his final three weeks. Bob was dearly loved by his son and ex-wife and will be greatly missed.
Memorials may be directed to Cotter Schools, the American Cancer Society or to the donor’s choice.
Online condolences or memories may be left at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.