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Walter J. Pietryga, age 97, passed away Saturday, December 22, 2018 in Grand Rapids, MI. Walter was born on March 13, 1921 in Bay City to the late Walter J. Pietryga, Sr. and Mary (Owczarzak) Pietryga. He grew up in the South End of Bay City and was the oldest of seven children. Walter married the late Mary H. (Madziar) Pietryga on July 12, 1941. They were blessed with four children.
Walter started his work career delivering milk when he was in fourth grade. He drove a horse-drawn wagon at first, but then graduated to driving a 1930 Ford truck. He held this job until he was a senior at Central High School. While in high school, he took an auto mechanics class and started working on cars. He was soon fixing the teachers’ cars. After graduation, he worked at Dunlap Pontiac in the bump shop.
During high school he was a catcher in the Junior and Senior baseball leagues. He also boxed in the Golden Gloves program and won the Golden Gloves Championship in 1940. He fought several professional bouts, but his dreams of a boxing career were sidelined when he was drafted into the US Army in 1944. Walter served as a sniper in Italy for fifteen months.
After the war, Walter bought a house on 22nd Street and in 1948 opened his own auto body repair business—Pietryga Collision Service—in the garage behind the house. He ran the business until 1964 when he went to work for Fisher Body in Pontiac, Michigan. After he retired, he and his wife moved back to Bay City.
Walter is survived by his daughter, Kathleen M. (Henry) Foglesong of Montrose, CO; his son, Daniel W. (Paula) Pietryga, MD of Grand Rapids, MI; ten grandchildren: Russell, Kris, Jason Pietryga, Kurt (Julie) Foglesong, Amanda (Mike) Menzl, Rianne, Tyler, Nicholas, Aaron, and Jacob Pietryga; two great grandchildren, Andrew and Sarah Menzl; four sisters: Irene Christenson, Mary Girard, Theresa Hallaron, and Betty Jean Lanier; daughters-in-law Diane (Orlik) Pietryga and Naoko (Freeman) Pietryga. Walter was predeceased by his wife, Mary H. Pietryga; his sons, Stephen J. Pietryga and Michael J. Pietryga; his brother, Edward Pietryga; and his sister, Helen O’Kon.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish—St. Hyacinth Church, Bay City, MI. Fr. Dale Orlik will celebrate Mass and entombment will follow at St. Stanislaus Kostka Cemetery. A luncheon for family and friends will follow the entombment. Friends may call at Ambrose Funeral Home at 4:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday. A Parish Vigil Service will be held on Thursday at 7:00 pm at the Ambrose Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider a memorial to the charity of their choice.