January 11, 1923 - January 4, 2014
Robert J. Kowalkowski passed away January 6, 2014 with his wife and family by his side. Bob, to all who knew him, was born January 11, 1923 in San Francisco to John and Ludvina Kowalkowski. He grew up in the Excelsior District of The City, graduating from Balboa High School in 1941. Upon graduation and a Sea Transport voyage to Hawaii, he began working at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. In 1943 he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force, becoming a member of the legendary 14th Air Force, The Flying Tigers. He served in China, Burma and India until 1945. He was a Flight Engineer and Gunner on The Joker, a B-24 bomber, flying 30 missions from bases in southwestern China. Running out of fuel and emergency landings were frequent occurrences. It was during his World War II service that he met his wife, Bethel Minger, at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. They married July 30, 1945 and were never separated in more than 68 years. With his Air Force service completed, Bob and Beth returned to Vallejo, CA where he resumed working as a Sheetmetal Mechanic in Shop 17 at Mare Island. He became such a skilled engraver that he was often called upon to engrave nameplates for the bells of ships launched from Mare Island. He worked there for 38 years, retiring as a Planner/Estimator in 1978. Bob possessed many talents and skills including carpentry and auto repair. In retirement, Bob and Beth enjoyed traveling the United States by car. On many of these trips they attended the annual conventions of the Flying Tigers. Bob and Beth have resided in Napa since 1957. Bob was a member of VFW Post 9300 (past Commander), Knights of Columbus No. 924, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the 14th Air Force Association. In addition to Beth, he is survived by his children Ana, Mike (Kelly), Jeanie (Greg) Fidler, and Nancy (Jeff) Cooke; grandchildren Alina (Chris) Andres, Courtney Kowalkowski, Sarah (Brendan) Roberts, Thomas Fidler and James Fidler; and, great grandchildren Hannah, Nolan, Gavin and Thomas. His sisters Regina, Lorraine, Yvonne, and Irene, plus many nieces and nephews also survive him. His brother Richard predeceased him. The family is grateful for the assistance and support of Senior Helpers, especially Marcella and Nancy, as well as the staff at Napa Valley Hospice Adult Day Services. A rosary will be held January 13th at 7:00 p.m. at Claffey and Rota Funeral Home, 1975 Main Street in Napa. A funeral Mass will be held January 14th at 10:00 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 981 Napa Street. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Napa Valley Hospice or St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and/or School.
Robert J. Kowalkowski passed away January 6, 2014 with his wife and family by his side. Bob, to all who knew him, was born January 11, 1923 in San Francisco to John and Ludvina Kowalkowski. He grew up in the Excelsior District of The City,... View Obituary & Service Information
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