Bambenek, Joseph R.


Joseph R. “Joe” Bambenek, age 91, of Winona, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on December 14, 2019, at St. Anne Extended Healthcare, Winona.

Joe was born on February 7, 1928, in Winona, to Anthony and Rose (Wojciechowski) Bambenek. He grew up on Lake Winona and the Mississippi River, enjoying all that it had to offer. He graduated from Winona Senior High School in 1946, excelling in a number of sports including football, basketball and hockey. He was an exceptional hockey player and helped to form several exciting teams in the area.

On June 24, 1950, he married Evelyn Voelker in Winona. They had three children, Bob, Linda, and Tom. He was a devoted husband and father.

Joe is survived by a son, Bob Bambenek, Winona; daughter, Linda (John) Miller, Brooklyn Park, Minn.; grandson, Joseph Miller, Las Vegas, Nev.; brothers, Jerry and Tony; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn; son, Tom; siblings, Donald, Emily, Evelyn, Frank, Fred, Isabelle, Rosebud, Ruth, and Violet; as well as many dear friends including his later companion, Shirley Czaplewski.

He worked as a firefighter at the Winona Fire Department until his retirement. Joe was also self-employed, building and remodeling homes in the Winona area. Joe was an ardent produce grower, working in the family business known for their quality produce especially their pumpkins, squash, and tomatoes. He worked in the business until his passing.

Joe will be remembered for his love of people, kindness and generosity, family gatherings, campouts, produce, the Mississippi River and in general, love of the outdoors. He had an avid interest in fishing, hunting, and trapping. He gave many wildlife presentations. After his retirement, he traveled to Texas with his brother, Tony, to assist ranchers in protecting their livestock. He also enjoyed playing cards with his weekly poker group and assisting at the Winona County Fair. Joe was a devoted fan of the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings.

He was a member of the Winona County Old Settler’s organization, a sponsor of the Future Farmers of America, and a member of the Minnesota Trapper’s Association where he was affectionately known as the “Popcorn Man” for selling popcorn at the conventions, often with his grandson by his side. Joe was inducted into the Winona County Fair Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Trapper’s Association Hall of Fame.
Joe was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Winona.

Special thanks and appreciation for the care given Joe at Winona Health and St. Anne Extended Healthcare, Winona.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 4, 2020, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1303 West Broadway, Winona, where visitation will be held in the Church Commons from 9:30 a.m. until the time of Mass. Father Michael Cronin will officiate. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Winona Health Foundation — ICU, or the organization of your choice

Goodbye to the rivers, the fields and the streams … Goodbye to my loved ones and all of my dreams … I’m going away to my home in the sky … Brazos de Dios Adios and Goodbye.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Joe’s family at

Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.


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