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Joseph Solak

March 7, 1919 - March 21, 2017
Livonia, MI



Thursday, March 23, 2017
2:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Turowski Life Story Funeral Homes
Livonia, West of Middlebelt
30200 Five Mile Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154
(734) 525-9020

Rosary at 7pm.

Driving Directions


Friday, March 24, 2017
10:30 AM EDT
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church
11441 Hubbard
Livonia, MI 48150

Instate 10 am

Life Story / Obituary


Joseph F. Solak was a devoted family man and faithful servant of God. He was strong in faith and humble in spirit. Putting the interests of others before his own, Joseph was prepared to sacrifice for his loved ones. Full of humor and good will, he made life fun for everyone around him. “A man of quiet dignity and simple pleasures” is how his family describe him and seek to emulate him.

Joseph was born March 7, 1919 at the close of a decade in which Americans experienced great change, from assembly line manufacturing to women’s suffrage, ragtime bands to silent motion pictures. That summer, the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles and the nation emerged from World War I with determination to rebuild.

The son of Mike and Antonina Solak, Joseph grew up in the house of his birth at 284 33rd Street in Detroit, Michigan and the family home on 35th St in Detroit, Michigan. As big brother to Edward, Chester, Mike, Helen, Walter, John, Steve, Stanley and Richard, Joseph took considerable responsibility for his siblings, especially when his father passed away when Joe was a youth and his mother passed away shortly after Joe fathered his own first son. By nature Joseph was attentive to his family, and by his character he did whatever it took to care for their well-being.

Following his education at Church of the Assumption elementary school and then in the public junior high, Joseph attended trade school and worked in factories as an adolescent. It prepared him for his lifetime work, yet he didn’t miss out on childhood fun. He sang in the church choir and played baseball with the Boys Club of Detroit, never losing his love for the All-American game.

Joseph worked various jobs in the skilled trades until he entered the military at age 23. He served in the US Navy as a Machinist Mate 1st Class aboard the USS Mt. Vernon during WWII. Though qualified for submarine duty, he worked below deck in refrigeration and completed his 30-month tour of duty with honor. For years to come, he retained pride in his country, his fellow veterans, his roots and his community as a member of Polish Legion of American Veterans White Eagle Post.

During his military service, Joseph met his future wife Virginia while dancing at a bar back home. The two fell in love and made a lifetime commitment of marriage on September 7, 1946 at Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Detroit. Family life took center stage in the Solak home and was accompanied by liveliness and joy. Their lives were further enriched by the births of their three children: Ken, Gary and Donna. The families first home was on Rutherford St in Detroit where they were members of Our Lady Gate of Heaven Catholic Church.

The Solak family eventually settled in Livonia, Michigan. They faithfully attended St. Michael the Archangel Church, each Sunday, and went for breakfast at Joseph’s favorite restaurant, Thomas’ Family Restaurant, where he ordered corned beef hash or sauerkraut perogies. Worshiping together at the Christmas Eve Vigil was a beautiful tradition and visiting relatives in Saginaw, Clio, Flint and Mio in northern Michigan’s national forest region was always a pleasure. At home, Joseph readily hosted parties for his sister and brothers and their families in his basement party room. Laughter filled the house when the brothers got together, especially when they modeled wigs and toupees for everyone.

True to form, Joseph never took things too seriously and kept a positive outlook on life, as evidenced by his favorite sayings: “It will be OK...Cheer up, there are brighter days ahead...Time will tell...Don’t Waste! Do you think money will grow on trees?” and “It is up to the good Lord.” His optimism was contagious, spilling over to his grandchildren Dan, Chris and Stephen and on family trips to Disney World and San Francisco. Numerous pets added to the household fun with dogs Tippy, Tina, another Tippy, then Skippy and Cooper; cat Mariah; rabbit Samantha and numerous gold fish. Regardless of the activity and possible mayhem, Joseph maintained his reputation as a sharp dresser.

In retirement, Joseph enjoyed family and friends all the more. It was a pleasure to travel in a Winnebago with in-laws, visit casinos in Las Vegas or elsewhere, attend the senior center with the Livonia Go-Getters, work-out with his cardiac rehab friends at the therapy pool, join in the activities of Monsignor Hunt Knights of Columbus, where he was a proud member for 45 years. He also bowled and played golf, counting his hole-in-one as a crowning achievement.

Still, the crown jewels of his life were his wife, children and grandchildren, whom he loved with all his heart.

Joseph F. Solak age 98, passed away March 21, 2017. Beloved Husband for 65 years of the late Virginia (December 2011). Loving father of Kenneth, Gary and Donna (Ken) Ruemenapp. Devoted grandfather of Daniel, Christopher and Stephen. Dear brother of Steve, Stanley and Richard (Carol) and the late Edward (the late Adele), Chester, Michael (the late Theresa), Helen Berrich (the late George), Walter (Cel Rose), and John. Also leaves behind his loving granddog Cooper. Family will receive friends Thursday from 2-9pm with a rosary at 7 pm at Neely Turowski Funeral Home 30200 Five Mile (Between Middlebelt and Merriman), Funeral Mass will be held Friday 10:30am, Instate 10am at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 11441 Hubbard in Livonia. Interment St. Hedwig Cemetery. Please visit www.TurowskiFuneralHome.com