Roger Derwae, age 89, of Kenosha, died April 9th, 2021. He was born September 16th, 1931 to Leah Gerber and Floyd Derwae. It was the Great Depression, and he grew up with his five siblings causing neighborhood shenanigans and working at an early age. They lived on very little, and from this childhood he learned the joys of simple food and the value of hard work.
Roger dreamt of joining the Marines at a young age, saving up his coins to buy the record of the Marine Corp Hymn, only to accidentally sit on it on the bus, break it, and save money to buy a new one to cherish for years later. He left high school early to fulfill his dream of becoming a Marine, but he was denied admittance and joined the Army instead. Roger served as a border guard in Trieste, Italy at the end of World War II. He later decided to try something new and enlisted in the Air Force, but his sights were always on the Marines. He was finally allowed to join through a loophole in the Reserves and served time in Okinawa, Japan and Washington DC. He retired from the military after 30 years of service.
Before leaving for Marine boot camp, he stole a dance with a woman and fell instantly in love. After weeks of writing to each other, he shared his first kiss with Evelyn Majerko on their wedding day in Las Vegas. They only had enough money to split a bologna sandwich and hitchhike back to the military base. They were the loves of each other’s lives and were married for 53 years until Evelyn passed away in 2007.
Roger enjoyed his second career at Snap On Tools, retiring after 20 years. He spent his remaining years enjoying simple pleasures: sitting on the deck telling stories with friends and family, his favorite meal of a hot dog and baked beans (which he preferred over a steak dinner any day), or a day trip somewhere. He earned his honorary high school diploma in 2014 at age 83.
He is preceded in death by Evelyn and their first daughter Karen Steckbauer and his five siblings. He is survived by his daughter Kristine Derwae (Lisa Caraballo); granddaughters Kelli (Joseph) Sheehan and Kari (John) Morey; and great granddaughters Hannah, Arya, and Tennyson. He is also survived by his four-legged companion Aussie.
Roger taught those around him to work hard for what you want, to share your blessings with others but also let them struggle, to make friends with those around you, and to eat the cake.
A visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at Proko Funeral Home from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service at 11:00 a.m. Interment to follow at St. George Cemetery with military honors.
In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin at www.vetsoutreachwi.us.