John Patrick Jack” Chvala
John Patrick “Jack” Chvala, age 96, of Madison, passed away on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. He was born on Oct. 2, 1925, in Tomahawk, Wis., the son of Joseph and Anna (Blahnik) Chvala.
Jack graduated from UW-Stevens Point. He married Mary Ann Severt on April 19, 1954, in Merrill, Wis. Jack served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He worked as a teacher for the Madison Area School District, where he was a teacher at LaFollette High School for 24 years. He was a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Knights of Columbus, Madison Teachers inc. and was the president of the Madison teacher’s union that went on strike in 1976.
Jack was the most valuable player on his high school football team and went on to play as a linebacker for UW-Stevens Point on a winning football team. He also enjoyed skiing and skating in the winter months. He had a great sense of humor and loved making people smile. Jack loved deer hunting and fishing. Jack built his cabin in Tomahawk after returning from WWII, where he enjoyed sharing his love of the outdoors with fellow vets and teaching kids how to waterski. He was a hockey coach at LaFollette High School. Jack always had a project going, especially if it involved fiber glass.
Jack was a hard worker and had two farms, one he shared with his brother, Joe. He did road construction for 11 years during his summers. Jack was always very supportive of his children and what they wanted to do. Jack was the most loving dad, and anyone would be proud to have a father like him. He was always there for his children and grandchildren. Jack was always creating an adventure for his children and grandchildren. He loved taking his children on road trips around the United States. One of the best trips was five weeks out west, where they went to the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Seattle, Wash., and to Disneyland. Mom and dad made the time go by singing songs along the whole trip. They were the best parents, and they were very devoted to their kids.
There is one story which tells you almost everything you need to know about Jack and Mary Ann Chvala. The family was living in Deerfield. Jack was working road construction during the summer when he was off from teaching. On his way home one day, he came along a man hitchhiking on Highway 12 and 18 and stopped to pick him up. As he pulled over, he saw a woman and young child about nine years old step up from the vegetation at the side of the road. When they got in the car, Jack asked where they were going, and they said they were headed to Milwaukee to try to find a job. Even though Jack would be turning off soon to go to Deerfield, he said that he would take them as far as Cambridge so that they could get a ride from there. The man was willing to do whatever job was necessary, and he talked about how he would do jobs that other people might not be willing to do. Jack dropped them off in Cambridge and returned to Deerfield, where Mary Ann had a ham dinner ready for the family. Jack told her what had happened and they decided to pack some ham sandwiches and take them to the family in Cambridge if they were still where Jack had dropped them off. Jack and Mary Ann packed four-year-old Chuck, three-year-old Joe and one-year-old Mary Pat into the car and drove to Cambridge. Apparently, a police officer had seen the family and taken them to a diner to help them get something to eat, and they were coming out of the diner when the Chvalas arrived. Jack gave them the ham sandwiches and the last $2.00 he had in his wallet (keeping 20 or 30 cents in his pocket) so the family would have a little money on their way to Milwaukee. Mary Ann and Jack took their family to the A&W Root Beer stand, where they got the regular root beers which cost either 10 or 15 cents apiece and got the free “baby beers,” which went to Chuck and Joe (Mary Pat maybe got a little bit of Mom’s root beer). Then they went home to the 1 ½ bedroom apartment they rented in Deerfield and reflected on giving this family the last $2.00 they had, since Jack was being paid the next day. As Mark’s Gospel says, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”
Jack is survived by his sons, Charles “Chuck” (Barb) Chvala and Joe Chvala; daughter, Mary Pat (Dan) Chvala-Olivas; grandsons, Ted Chvala and John Olivas; granddaughters, Jessica Chvala and Danielle (Matt) Olivas-Klubertanz; and a great-grandbaby on the way. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Mary Ann Chvala; brothers, Joe (Eileen) Chvala, Frank (Pearl) Chvala and Ted Chvala; and sisters, Belle (Harold) Choate and Bea Mullin
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Dennis Catholic Church, 505 Dempsey Road, Madison, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Family and friends wishing to view the Mass via livestream may do so by visiting Jack’s obituary page at www.gundersonfh.com and clicking on the Watch Webcast link at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Burial will be held at Highland Memory Gardens. Visitation will be held at the church from 9:30 a.m. until the start of the Mass on Wednesday.
Memorials may be made in Jack’s name to LaFollette High School Booster Club or to Badger Honor Flight. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.