Michael Kusek, 91, Alliance

Michael Kusek, 91, died Friday, November 9, 2012 at Highland Park Care Center in Alliance.

Michael John Kusek was born on the family farm in rural Wheeler County, Nebraska to Thomas T. and Mary E. (Nekoliczak) Kusek on April 18, 1921. Mike was one of five boys and three girls.

He attended grade school at Wheeler County School District #20. Mike graduated from Wheeler County High School at Bartlett, Nebraska in 1939. He participated in baseball, football, basketball and track. He was also a member of his high school band playing the clarinet. Mike was an accomplished, self-taught musician who could play several musical instruments, especially the piano and accordion. He later formed a band and played at local dances.

Mike was very proud of his family's Polish roots and learned to speak the Polish language fluently as a child. He always enjoyed a conversation with relatives who would come and visit from Poland. Mike visited family in Poland in 1984.

During the first years of World War II Mike remained on the family farm, helping his father farm and run their cow/calf operation. At first Mike was not allowed to enlist, as his three older brothers were already in the service. During that time Mike coached basketball at WCHS.

Mike joined the United States Marine Corps on April 6, 1945 in Grand Island, Nebraska. Mike attended boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. After further training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina his outfit was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California awaiting departure for the Pacific Theatre. Mike served with the 6th Marines of the 2nd Marine Corps Division. Mike served on the Islands of Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan and then with the occupational forces in Japan at Sasebo on the Island of Kyushu and at Nagasaki, Japan. After returning to the U.S. Mike served with the 2nd Marines of the 2nd Marine Corps Division until his discharge with the rank of Private First Class in August 1946.

After his discharge and return to the farm in Nebraska, Mike enrolled in the Nebraska Barbers College in Omaha and was graduated in July 1948. Mike met and subsequently married Rita Mary Zahm, of rural Greeley County, Nebraska. They were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Greeley, Nebraska on October 25, 1948. Mike lived and worked as a barber in Greeley before moving his family to Alliance in 1950 where he purchased a barber shop at 201 Box Butte Ave. In 1960 Mike purchased the Harris Sales building at 205 Box Butte Ave. and in 1964 remodeled it into Mikes All New Barbershop. Mike cut hair for fifty years before his retirement in 2001. Since 1973, Mike also operated The Clipper Barber Shop in Hemingford on Mondays for twenty years.

During his residency in Alliance, Mike was involved in many community activities. He served on the Box Butte County Selective Service Board from the early 1950's to the mid 1960's. Mike was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; The American Legion Post #7; The Eagles Aerie; the Elks Club; the National Rifle Association; and the Knights of Columbus, of which he served as Grand Knight. Mike also took part in the Boy Scouting program in the 1960's and he started the first indoor archery range, in Alliance, in 1968, in the top floor of his barber shop. During the 60's and 70's Mike was one of the top bowlers in the area. His high game of 296 was the high score in Alliance for many years. Mike was the all events winner at the 1968 Knights of Columbus State Bowling Tournament. Mike was also involved in the Alliance Stock Car organization. Mikes favorite past times were collecting coins and antique cars, pheasant hunting, watching the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies ball games. He also enjoyed playing the piano and accordion, polka dancing, listening to polka music and music of the Big Band Era and spending time with his family and friends and eating meals fit for a king.

Mike is survived by his wife, Rita, his four sons, Lawrence (Anita) of Ft. Calhoun, NE, Daniel (Jane), Paul (Cindy), and Patrick (Cheryl), all of Alliance, his grandchildren, John Kusek of Ft. Calhoun. Dr. Mark Kusek of Boston, MA, Jim Kusek of Florida, Jeff Kusek of Lincoln, Mitch (Kari) Kusek of Aurora, CO, Greg Kusek of Gretna, Brooke (Cassidy) Odean of North Platte, and Brent Kusek of Alliance, his great-grandchildren, Jack Kusek and Ginny Kusek of Aurora, CO, Presley Odean and expecting baby Odean of North Platte,Ne. He is also survived by his sister, Dorothy Boyce of Denver, Colo., and sister-in-law Mary Kusek of Omaha and several nieces and nephews.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, his sisters, Mary Ann Buelt and Helen Oseka and his brothers, Hubert, Louis, Joseph and Bernard Kusek.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held Wednesday, November 14 at 2:00 p.m. at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, with Father Lou Nollette, Monsignor Edward Buelt and Fr. Ted Nekoliczak officiating. Burial will be in the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery with military honors. Wake services will be Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at the church. Visitation will be Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Bates-Gould Funeral Home.

Memorials may be given to the St. Agnes Academy Foundation, 1104 Cheyenne, Alliance, NE 69301 or the Veterans State Cemetery at Alliance Foundation, P.O. Box 902, Alliance, NE 69301.

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