BLOOMINGTON — Michael S. “Mike” Vanko Jr., 61, Bloomington, formerly of Streator, passed away at 2:34 a.m. Thursday (April 8, 2010) at Advocate BroMenn Regional Medical Center, Normal.
A Mass of Christian burial will be at 11:30 a.m. Monday at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Streator, with Monsignor John Prendergast officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Kibler-Smith Memorial Home, Bloomington. Burial will be in St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Streator, with military rites conducted by VFW Post 1492. Memorials may be made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, 801 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20006-3517; or Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer, 318 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61701, in Mike’s memory.
Mike was born May 19, 1948, in Streator, son of Michael S. and Dorothy Baumann Vanko Sr. He attended St. Stephen’s School and Church in Streator and received his high school education at St. Lawrence Seminary at Mount Calvary, Wis.
Mike attended Southern Illinois University before he joined the Army and served his country in Vietnam as a crew chief aboard UH-1 “Huey” helicopters. During his service in Vietnam, Mike was a recipient of the Bronze Star, Army Commendation medal, Air Medal and Air Medal with “V” for valor device in addition to the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm device and several other citations and commendations. After his discharge from the regular Army, Mike spent over 20 years serving in the Army National Guard as a crew chief and aircraft repair supervisor, working with Hueys and later UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. He retired from service in 1993 after nearly 25 years.
Mike had been a delivery driver for Aurora Casket Co. in Bloomington for two to three years. He was a lifetime member of VFW Post 454 and AMVETS Post 0270 and volunteered with the Special Olympics for many years. Mike was an avid Cubs fan and enjoyed all sports, but mainly baseball.
Surviving are his mother, Dorothy Pointer, Normal; one sister, Carol (Bill) Spencer, Normal; one daughter, Jacquelyn (Jack) Walker, Assumption; one son, Doug (Cindy) Ernst, Springfield; and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.kiblersmith.com.