Obituary of Henry Sawoski
Henry F. Sawoski was a loving husband, father and grandpa. He lived a long and wonderful life. He is already greatly missed.
A first generation American, he was born to Polish immigrants in Jersey City, New Jersey on September 27, 1928. His father worked the cattle stockades in Hoboken and helped dig the train tunnels under the Hudson River, work that impaired his ability to walk. From an early age, Henry worked jobs from cleaning fish at a large wholesale market --to loading cast iron bathtubs downhill onto barges using a simple hand truck -- to pushing a broom at the Maxwell House coffee plant in Hoboken; this to help support his mother and dad and four sisters. He was the youngest child – and the only son.
Henry, or “Hank,” joined the Civil Air Patrol at Ferris High School and was preparing to join the US Army Air Force during World War II, which, luckily for his family, ended in 1945, the year he graduated. While continuing to support his family, he was able to earn the equivalent of two years of college credit. He also moved up at the Maxwell House plant, becoming a shop steward and then entering management; this, by following the maxims “do the best you can” and “always put in a little extra” -- which became two of the many lessons he passed on, repeatedly, to children and grandchildren.
It was around this time that he met the love of his life, Dorothy Hance, who was a nursing student from Dover, New Jersey specializing in obstetrics at Jersey City Medical Center. It was a love story that continues today, despite his passing. They are forever entwined.
Hank and Dot married on July 8, 1950. They borrowed a touring car from the Roginski family (the families Sawoski and Roginski historically are close) and drove to Lake George, then to the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River and then to Niagara Falls, at times famously eating cherries and spitting the seeds out the windows as they went.
This union led to the birth of a daughter, Christine. She is now Christine Winner, wife of Doug Winner, of Newtown, Connecticut. They have two sons, Adam and Todd. It also led to the birth of a son, Mark. He is the husband of Sue Eckert-Sawoski of Little Compton, Rhode Island. They have a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Catherine. The family is close.
1954 brought them to 57 Old Wood Road, Morris Plains. When they first saw it, it was just a wooded plot of land on a dirt road. Henry and Dorothy designed their house themselves and then built it, with help from Dorothy’s father, Joseph, and a carpenter they hired. It has been their home for 65 years. It’s where Chris and Mark grew up. It’s a place full of love and treasured memories. It’s the house Hank and Dot built.
Henry worked for Maxwell House and the General Foods Corporation for some forty years, most of it overseeing quality control operations both in Hoboken and in plants around the country. He was a frequent flyer before there was such a thing. He would bring us back pilot wings to clip on our shirts and Macadamia nuts to munch on. It was all very exotic for us. He would bring back matches from the restaurants he visited, enough to fill up three very large glass containers. He retired from General Foods in 1983, although he continued to work part time for different firms related to packaging, warehousing and other activities.
Henry loved Morris Plains. He was a true public servant. He was a long-term member of the Morris Plains planning board, including service as its Chairman. He worked to keep Morris Plains a small town, to avoid overdevelopment and higher taxes. All his life, he hated taxes and big government. He also served for many years on the Morris County Board of Elections, the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee, the Morris Plains Board of Health and the Morris and Sussex District Fee Arbitration Committee for the State Supreme Court. He was also the Morris Plains town historian for many years.
Among these volunteer positions, he was perhaps proudest of his twenty years of service as a member of the Morris County Mosquito Extermination Commission, including fifteen years as President. While his family sometimes kidded him about angry mosquitos -- buzz, buzz – we came to realize the value of living in a community relatively free from mosquito borne diseases, such as the West Nile and Zika viruses. In recognition of his work, the Morris County Board of Freeholders passed a resolution in 2015 honoring Henry for “making significant contributions to Morris County’s efforts to control mosquitoes in an efficient and effective manner through a comprehensive and environmentally safe control program.”
Henry was an active, long term member of the Morris Plains Rotary Club. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honor, in 1990. Henry was also extremely proud recently to be awarded the Key to the Borough of Morris Plains.
Henry enjoyed fishing, reading and travelling with Dorothy. He kept an eight pound large-mouth bass mounted next his desk. He caught this monster fish in a small secluded pond in Morris Plains called the “Sand Pit.” It is now part of an industrial park near Hanover Avenue.
Henry was a life-long parishioner of St. Virgil’s Church. He loved his wife, his family, his town and his country. He was a great man. In many ways, he was the embodiment of the American Dream. He helped many people. He brought joy to many more. He made the world a better place. We will always love him.
Family and friends are welcome to gather on Tuesday,November 20, 2018 from 3-5pm at Dangler Funeral Home, 600 Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains. A Funeral Mass for Henry will be held on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 10:00am at St. Virgil's Church, 250 Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains. Interment will follow at St. Mary's Cemetery, Dover.
who we are:
The Dangler Family of Funeral Homes - a family run business since 1820.
Dangler Funeral Home, Inc.
P: (973) 539-3300
F: (973) 539-9893
Burroughs, Kohr & Dangler Funeral Home, Inc.
P: (973) 377-3232
F: (973) 377-2226
600 Speedwell Ave.
(at Glenbrook Rd.)
Morris Plains, NJ
Christine M. Dangler, Mgr., N.J. Lic. No. 4706
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106 Main St.
(at Greenwood Ave.)
Kip M. Dangler, Mgr., N.J. Lic. No. 3992
Christine M. Dangler, Dir., N.J. Lic. No. 4706
Samantha E. Muro, Dir., N.J. Lic. No. 5148