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Robert L. Janoska
"Bob"

Company H-1

1 Jan 1938 - 25 Jan 2011

Place of Death: Highland, MI

Interment: Great Lakes National Cemetery - Holly, MI

 It is with great regret and sorrow that we must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Bob Janoska, on 25 January in Highland, MI, in the care of his family.  Bob is survived by Hazel, his beloved wife of over 19 years; loving children Michael (Holly) Janoska, Jeff (Linda) Janoska, Kathy Mienkwic, and Linda Schenk; grandchildren Allison, Ian, Nicholas, Elisabeth, Sean, Travis, and Emily; brother Al (Dottie); and extended family and dear friends.

The family will receive friends from 3 to 9 PM on Sunday, 30 January, at the Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty St., Milford, MI  48381.  A Masonic Service will be held at 7:30 PM on Sunday.

 A Funeral Service will be held at 10 AM on Monday, 31 January, at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home.  The Rev. Dr. R. John Harris will officiate.  Bob will be buried with military honors at Great Lakes National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to American Legion Post 216 Youth Fund, 510 W. Commerce Road, Milford, MI  48381.

 Condolences may be sent to Hazel at 19468 Hickory Ridge Road #6, Fenton, MI  48430. 

Well done, Bob.  Be thou at peace.

Tribute:

Bob Janoska passed away 25 January 2011 at home in the care of his family after suffering a heart attack.  He had been in declining health for several years while battling a number of heart attacks, colon cancer, diabetes and failing eyesight.

The family received friends on Sunday, 30 January, at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Milford, MI. The American Legion conducted a ceremony at 7:00 PM.  Fifty or so Legionnaires attended.  Since joining the Legion in Michigan in the 1970’s, Bob had served as the local Post Commander six times and the District Commander once.  He had also chaired and served on several State Committees of the Legion, led the Legion’s Boy Scout troop when his son Jeff made Eagle Scout in that troop, and was famous as the caller of Friday night Bingo at the Legion Hall.  It was mentioned that no one ever had to worry about the right procedure when Bob was present at a Legion function because Bob was an expert on all the procedures.  It was also mentioned that Bob’s dream was to have 1,000 Legionnaires marching in the annual parade and while he didn’t quite make it, they did get to 900 which is amazing and a tribute to Bob’s hard work, energy, dedication and magnetic personality. 

Following the American Legion ceremony, the Holly, MI Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons conducted a service for Bob.  About forty Masons participated.  Despite his health problems, Bob joined the Masons in 1998 and was very active, serving twice as the Worshipful Master of his Lodge.  Not content to stop there, Bob also went further in Masonry as a member of the York Rite.  In this Rite he achieved the titles of Thrice Illustrious Master of the Council of Royal and Select Masons, High Priest of the Royal Arch, Commander of the Knights Templar and Governor of the York Rite College.

On Monday, 31 January, at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, a funeral service was conducted by Dr. R. John Harris.  In his remarks Dr. Harris chronicled Bob’s remarkable life of service to his country, his family and his community.  Following his graduation from high school in Philadelphia, Bob matriculated to Penn State where he enrolled in ROTC with the intent of obtaining an appointment to West Point.  He accomplished this and entered West Point in 1957 as a member of the class of 1961.  While at West Point, Bob was a member of the Glee Club, the “Spirits,” and the cast of the “100th Night Show.”  His classmates remembered Bob for his unfailing upbeat attitude, his infectious sense of humor, his guitar music and his maverick nature.  Dr. Harris remarked that Bob never lost any of that as his family and his community remembered him the same way.

Following graduation from West Point in 1961, Bob served three plus years in Germany and returned to the States to attend the Career course at Ft. Knox.  While in Germany, Bob was married and his two sons, Michael and Jeff were born. Following the Career Course, Bob went to Vietnam where he served as a Ranger and an advisor to a RVN unit.  Upon his return from Vietnam, Bob resigned from the Army to spend more time with his family.  He began his career with General Motors, first with the tank plant in Cleveland and then with the GM Safety Research and Development Lab (SRDL) at the GM Proving Ground in Milford, MI.  When Bob retired in 1989 he was the Operations Manager for the SRDL.  He retired after a heart attack and quadruple by-pass surgery. Throughout this period, Bob was very active in the American Legion and with the Boy Scouts. Both his sons became Eagle Scouts.  After his divorce in 1979, Bob raised his two boys as a single parent until they reached maturity.

In 1991 Bob married the love of his life, Hazel, whom he had met while working at the GM Proving Grounds.  Hazel had two children by a previous marriage.  At the time of his death, Bob had seven grandchildren, three on his side of the family and four on Hazel’s side.  Dr. Harris remarked at the service that Bob was a loving and caring Grandfather for all seven of his grandchildren.  He also remarked that you never saw Bob in Klancey’s, the local restaurant, without seeing Hazel with him.  After her retirement from GM, Hazel went back to school to become an RN and is still working as a geriatric nurse.  In their twenty years of marriage, Bob and Hazel developed a wonderful family that helped sustain Bob through his many medical difficulties.  Bob’s two sons, Michael and Jeff, both gave moving eulogies at the service.  They spoke of Bob’s tremendous influence on them growing up and what a wonderful Grandfather he was to all seven of his grandchildren.  Jeff mentioned a story he had heard about Bob during his cadet days when he risked being out after Lights Out to walk his “turned out” roommate over to Grant Hall, wish him well and give him a hug before he left.  As Jeff said, that was Bob his entire life – bit of a maverick, but loving and caring for those closest to him.

Following the service in the funeral home, Bob was transported to his final resting place, the Great Lakes National Cemetery near Holly, MI.  The burial service was conducted by Dr. Harris.  Military honors were provided by the American Legion.  Bob’s final post was a tribute to a full and rich life.  It was reflective a life full of service to his country, dedication to his family and the high esteem in which he was held by the members of his community.

Well done Bob.  Rest in peace.

Prepared by company-mate Bruce Cowan, USMA '61

 

Remembrances:

Class Memorial Pages\H-1 Bob Janoska.pdf

Bob Janoska was my best friend at West Point.

We made music together for four wonderful years at the Academy.  He was for three years, a member of the Cadet Glee Club Quartet where, with his guitar, bass fiddle, and clear tenor voice, he was not only the lead singer but  the essence of our group. We wrote songs together for the Quartet which too often got attributed to me, but clearly his was the genius that sparked our sound. 

Bob was involved in practically every facet of the 100th Night Shows and Buckner Color Line Shows. Plebe year he was  a member of the 100th Night Show Chorus; in subsequent years he was either starring or participating in the writing of lyrics or the script book for these shows.  

And through it all, his stage presence was of such a professional nature that when he stepped across the footlights, clearly he was home!. 

That treasure of his sharing with me his theatrical enthusiasm was the greatest gift one could receive for which I will be eternally grateful.  Bob will always live in my memory as one who gave life to our mutual musical endeavors. 

I know that West Point is not  a school for music and theatrical composition. But my relationship with Bob transcended well beyond those time worn associated attributes, and my respect for him and the friendship he extended to me will always reign supreme. 

Last week, as a personal way of paying tribute upon hearing of his death, I sat down at my piano, and found myself reminiscing about Bob by playing every song I could think of from our repetoire.  

For me, that was a first. I believe it will always be the last. 

John Solomon '61

Being around Bob in our cadet company always uplifted your spirit. He was somewhat of a maverick that you just had to love. I am saddened by the loss of an old friend.

Russell Cornelius '61

Always ready to lend a helping hand. Always there with a grin and a smile to lift your spirits, Bob was loved and respected by all his classmates. We will all miss him. Well done Bob - Rest in Peace.

Bruce Cowan '61

I last saw Bob while we were serving in neighboring units in Vietnam.  As Russ Cornelius pointed out, Bob was a loveable maverick, and '61 will miss him and his infectious sense of humor.

Bren Battle '61 H-2

Farewell West Point roommate and best man at my wedding.  Bob and I were roommates during cow and firstie years.  As I look at Bruce’s tribute along with Bob’s recent photo and the photo of the “Spirits” above in this Last Roll Call, recollections of our cadet life and Bob’s unique contributions to the class of ’61 flood my memory.

What do you get when you mix a Philadelphia street-wise guy (Bob) with a young kid out of the Appalachian mountains for the first time (yours truly), and throw in a southern gentleman (George Cherry) or a hard-nosed Army football player (Don Bonko)?  You have the makings of humor and mischief that get you through the gloom period of winter at West Point and the challenges of Academy life.

Bob was a bright and talented free spirit in the confining walls of West Point as the Academy sought to mold us from teenagers to disciplined adults. He resisted more than many.  His releases from the confines of Academy structure were his music, his dry wit, and a propensity for antics that kept room and company mates perpetually entertained.  A typical evening in our room would find his roommates struggling with the next day’s math, engineering, juice lesson, or writing assignment; while Bob was at Glee Club practice, in the sinks harmonizing with the “Spirits,” or rehearsing for the 100th Night Show.  There was always a guitar, a mandolin, a banjo, or a dobro laying around the room – plus the bass fiddle stored in the sinks.  Bob played them all. 

After we (his roommates) had labored through the afternoon and evening preparing for the next day’s classes, Bob would appear about 30 minutes before lights out, flip through the pages of the next day’s assignment – or start the paper that was due the next day – and often receive a higher grade than his struggling roommates.

An example of his many talents comes from the heart of cow year gloom period.  It was laundry day.  George (Cherry) and I returned to the room just before dinner.  Tacked on the wall of our room was the brown wrapping paper from the laundry the plebes had delivered earlier in the afternoon.   With red, blue, yellow and white chalk “borrowed” from the classroom, Bob had drawn a gargoyle-like figure capturing the essence of gloom period emotions on the laundry paper.  George and I surreptitiously entered the “chalk on laundry paper” drawing in the upcoming annual art show in the Weapons Room.  The drawing won a 2nd place ribbon.

Then there was the Sunday afternoon in the spring of firstie year when I returned to my room to find that my bed, desk, and most of my personal possessions were missing.  All were eventually located in the basement sinks with the note, “If you want to live a secret life, live it elsewhere.”    My transgression was that I had failed to consult my roommates before presenting the “A” pin to my future wife.  Bob had formed and orchestrated the plebe detail that evacuated me from the room.

His spirited antics continued as the Best Man in my wedding.  As my new wife and I sought to exit the wedding festivities, we could not locate our suitcases, nor Bob who was to retrieve them from the car.  We found Bob with the suitcases dancing and singing robustly in the parking lot, “This is the way we marry Counts, marry Counts …” His explanation was that he drank “tii many martoonis” during the festivities.

Yes, roommate, you added spice and spirit to our life as a cadets, as a roommate, and company mate; as well as music of the “Spirits” to all of the Corps.  As fate would have it, our paths crossed infrequently for the next forty-five years.  However, just last fall we became reacquainted as we shared the long overdue task of drafting a Last Roll Call remembrance for our fellow roommate, Don Bonko, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.  Little we knew, it would be our last venture together.  But I knew then, and I see in Bob’s eyes in his recent Last Roll Call photo, that the free spirit that made him a unique and beloved classmate remained to the end. 

Well done, roomie, rest in peace.

Prepared by Todd Counts, roommate, USMA ‘61

I am shocked to learn of Bob’s death. Bob replied to an H-1 email just a couple of days ago. We kept in contact via email for years, and it was just a month ago that we communicated. I know that he mentioned a long-ago heart attack.  Bob (and Mike Xenos) were my roommates during plebe year at USMA.

I recall Bob as a great guy who seemed gratefully in awe of the fact that he made it into West Point - at least that was his feeling in Plebe Year. His time as a Plebe was not easy, but I recall the upperclassmen recognizing some humor in his personality that made them respect him. To me, he was one of those guys who brought a bit of joy into my life.

One of the things that I remember about Bob was his penchant for ambushing me when he saw that I was heading back to our room. He would lie in wait like that Asian guy in the Peter Sellers "Pink Panther" Chief Inspector Clouseau movies. When I opened the door to the darkened room, Bob would come flying off the top bunk or out of the closet to wrestle me to the floor. I never knew what to expect. He was a skinny, wiry guy, and it took me some time to get him off of me. I guess that our metabolism was off the charts with that Plebe wrestling and boxing that we had to do.

During my brief time at USMA, he was upbeat (sometimes naively in the eyes of old vets like Mike and me), talented, bright, and concerned with his classmates. Xenos and I were 21 years old, and USMAPS files, and we took this skinny young kid under our wings; however, we soon learned that he would be a great cadet.

He tried everything to get me through Plebe math. In fact, the night that I left West Point, he risked unauthorized room absence to walk me over to Grant Hall while I awaited transportation home. We shook hands, hugged (in a manly way, of course), and said good-bye. I know that there was a tear in both our eyes. I remember that night as if it were last week.

Prepared by a roommate, John F. Grisoni x'61

Captain Janoska was the finest commanding officer I had during my ten years of military service. He was a personal inspiration as well as a good friend. He WAS one of the finest men I have ever known.

Larry Coffee

 

Obituaries:

JANOSKA, ROBERT "BOB" L.; age 73; of Highland; died in the care of his family; January 25, 2011. Longtime member of Holly Masonic Lodge #134 F&AM, the Knights Templar and the Milford American Legion Post # 216 where he served as Commander for years and was famous as the caller of Friday Night Bingo matches at the Legion Hall. Survived by Hazel, his beloved wife of over 19 years; loving children, Michael (Holly) Janoska, Jeff (Linda) Janoska, Kathy Mienkwic, and Linda; grandchildren Allison, Ian, Nicholas, Elisabeth, Sean, Travis, Emily; brother Al (Dottie) and also extended family and dear friends. Funeral Service will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 404 E. Liberty St., Milford Monday, January 31, 10 a.m. Rev. Dr. R. John Harris to officiate. Military Honors and burial at Great Lakes National Cemetery. Friends may visit Sunday 3 to 9 p.m. Memorials encouraged to American Legion Post #216 Youth Fund. For further information, please call 248-684-6645 or visit www.LynchFuneralDirectors.com

Published in The Oakland Press on January 27, 2011