Stephen J. “Spike” Kaleta, 96, of Brookdale Senior Living in Williamsville, formerly of Dunkirk, entered into rest Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
A lifelong resident until this past year, Stephen was born August 14, 1923, in Dunkirk, son of the late John and Catherine (Bielat) Kaleta.
He attended and graduated from St. Hedwig’s Parochial School and Dunkirk High School.
Stephen entered military service in February 1943, and served in the US Army Air Forces in Florida, Georgia and Alabama until he was transferred into the Army Ground Forces, serving in the 43rd Infantry Division, Pacific Theater. His division was one of four which landed on the Linguyen Gulf Coast, island of Luzon, January 1945, eventually liberating the island and the Philippine capitol of Manilla.From Luzon, PFC Kaleta prepared and boarded transport ships for the invasion of Japan. It was en route to the Japanese homelands that the news of Japan’s surrender was announced, August 14, 1945, Stephen’s birthday. He would recall that moment as the best birthday present he ever received.
He went on to spend six months as part of the occupation Army forces in Japan, and being Honorably discharged in 1946. For his service he was awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Amphibious Invasion Arrow, Combat Infantry Badge, Pacific Theater Medal, Japanese Occupation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal and Good Conduct Discharge Pin.Returning Home to Dunkirk, he found employment with the former True Temper Corporation and worked there for 38 years until his retirement in 1986.
He was active in many local organizations, having membership in Murray Hose Company No. 4, First Ward Falcon Club, Moniuszko Social Club, Kosciuszko Club, Dom Polski Club, WWII Vets, Dunkirk Vets.
Dad Loved his hometown, his wife, family, camping at Allegheny State Park, Backyard bonfires, his morning coffee clan, the daily newspaper and Tipping one back at days end.
In 1955 he married the former Shirley Kittell of Silver Creek and remained Happily married for 48 years until her death in 2003. Together they raised Two sons John S. (Ruthanne) Kaleta of Grand Island and Robert J. (Tammy) Kaleta of Powhatan, VA, also surviving are grandchildren Megan Kaleta of Buffalo, Dr. Lauren Kaleta of Sitka, Alaska, Ashley and Aiden Kaleta of Powhatan, VA, a sister Agnes Polowy along with several nieces and nephews survive.Preceded in death in addition to his parents are brothers Chester Kaleta, Larry Kaleta, Henry Kaleta, sisters Mary Wlodarek, Frances Gaken.
A Memorial service will be held at a later date to be announced.
Memorials can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America act.alz.org/donate.