Sylvester James "Sy" Vavruska
Sylvester James “Sy” Vavruska, 102, of Mountain Cove Road, passed away on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, at Maggie Valley Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center.
A native of Cook County, Illinois, he was the son of the late John and Anna Klecka Vavruska. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Allene Smith Vavruska, who passed away in 1976; a sister, Rose Bedgood and a brother, John Vavruska.
Sy and his wife, Allene Smith, a Waynesville native, moved to Haywood County in 1964 where he was a well respected building contractor having built many beautiful homes until he retired in 1979. Sy was active in many civic organizations including the Waynesville Rotary Club in which he served as President and received Rotary’s distinguished Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was instrumental in the establishment and construction of the Sheltered Workshop on the campus of Haywood Community College, now known as Haywood Vocational Opportunities, donating significant time and resources to its success. He was a member of the Hazelwood Presbyterian Church.
Sy entered the US Army in 1941 at the beginning of World War II and was commissioned as an artillery officer. He and Allene, an Army evacuation hospital nurse, were married in England three weeks before D-Day.
While attached to the 5th Ranger Battalion as an artillery captain, his unit was among the first to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Normandy invasion. After serving in the European theater, he then served in the South Pacific in both New Guinea and the Philippines until the end of the war.
After World War II, Sy and Allene settled in the Chicago area where he was a residential building contractor and raised their family there. He served in the Army Reserves until he retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1964.
In his early years, he enjoyed playing baseball, speed skating, and building and sailing ice boats in Wisconsin. In his later years, Sy enjoyed vegetable gardening, bee keeping, and fine woodworking, producing beautiful clocks and pieces of furniture which he enjoyed making for his family and many friends.
Sy is survived by a daughter, Jane Cole and her husband, Bill, of Waynesville; a son, John Smith Vavruska and his wife, Laura Holt of Santa Fe, New Mexico; three grandchildren, Jeremy Cole of Waynesville, Rebecca Cronk of Singapore and Anna Vavruska of Denver, Colorado; and three great-grandchildren, Ethan, Grace and Sarah Cronk.
A private family graveside service will be held.
Memorials may be made to Haywood Vocational Opportunities, 172, Riverbend Street, Waynesville, NC 28786.
Wells Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of Waynesville is in charge of arrangements. An on-line memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at “www.wellsfuneralhome.com”