Duane Nadolski

Duane Nadolski loathed the classic Christmas film “It’s Wonderful Life” as a saccharine oversimplification of a man’s role in his family’s and community’s prosperity.

“Ironically, as much as he would have hated this comparison, my dad was George Bailey personified, minus the personal doubts,” his son Ed Nadolski said. “He had a profound impact on the community he served and he did it by putting his family and community ahead of his personal aspirations.

“In the end it became clear the well being of his family and community were one and the same with his personal aspirations.”

Duane Nadolski died Thursday, Feb. 14, at Aurora Medical Center, Grafton, five days after suffering a heart attack at his home in Grafton. He was 87.

Mr. Nadolski was born Dec. 1, 1931, in Beaver Dam to Edward and Marie Nadolski. He volunteered for service in the U.S. Army in 1953 and was on active duty for two years, serving as sergeant in charge of the motor pool for a bridge-building unit that was sent to Germany during the restoration following World War II. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal upon his discharge.

He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the G.I. Bill and graduated in the late 1950s with a degree in finance. While in Madison, he met his future wife, Karen Anderson, in seats on the 50-yard line at Camp Randall Stadium. The meeting sparked a lasting love affair with each other and the Badgers. They were married on June 21, 1958, in Plymouth.

His wife preceded him in death on March 8, 2016.

Mr. Nadolski, a resident of Port Washington for 58 years, was longtime secretary-treasurer and later president of Port Washington Savings and Loan, which has since become Associated Bank. In retirement he launched his avocation as captain of Fishin’ Pole charter sport fishing service, aptly named in honor of his Polish heritage.

“My siblings and I often urged dad to slow down, but he’d never turn down a charter,” Ed Nadolski said. “He only knew one way to work, and he did it until he was 80. I suppose it helped keep him young.”

During his financial career, Mr. Nadolski saw the value in a prosperous micro-economy and did his best to help the community thrive, whether in his lending practices or his shopping habits, according to his daughter, Kristine Tayloe.

“When we were little, I remember him telling us to buy local,” she said. “He preached the benefits of shopping local even when we were kids. He was way ahead of his time. Not only did he understand it, but he lived by it.”

Ms. Tayloe said she saw a thread of kindness in the work her father did.

“It was always refreshing how encouraging and kind he was to people in the community, whether it was a loan for their new business or an opportunity for someone who lost a job,” she said. “He just always wanted to give somebody a chance to succeed. But he didn’t want to give them a handout, he wanted to give them a hand-up.”

That concern for community extended beyond professional pursuits into the plethora of organizations Mr. Nadolski served, according to his son David.

He said his father was active in community service until his death. Duane Nadolski began as treasurer and rose to the presidency in a long list of organizations.

David Nadolski said his father modeled an example of selflessness without ever uttering a word about altruism.

“As kids we didn’t know it was anything special because it was part of the fabric of our family,” he said. “Whether we were setting up tents for the parish festival or working Fish Day in the Rotary tent, it was just something we did with our dad.”

Among his community service roles were: Parish Council and Finance Committee member for St. Peter of Alcantara Catholic Parish; member of Knights of Columbus Council 2035; past member of City of Port Washington Economic Development Committee; past president of the Port Washington Rotary Club; past president for Port Washington Jaycees; past president and board member for Balance Inc.; past board member for Portal Industries; past president and member of Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Ozaukee Chapter; member of Ozaukee County ARC; and mentor/friend for Port Washington Friendship Group.

David Nadolski said his father, as a member of the Finance Committee at St. Peter Parish, was instrumental in negotiating the lease of parish property to Allen Edmonds.

“Rather than sell the property for a one-time windfall, he and the other members of the Finance Committee crafted a 99-year lease that provides an income to the parish for decades,” he said. “That’s foresight. That’s love for your parish.”

The greatest expression of Mr. Nadolski’s character, according to his daughter Kathie Nadolski, was the devotion he displayed toward his disabled son Andrew and all people with disabilities.

“He was my brother’s primary caregiver when it came to his physical needs, and Andy is not a small guy,” she said. “He did that for the 25 years Andy lived with him and my mother.”

Mr. Nadolski then used his experience in finance and real estate to help ensure his son and hundreds like him would be able to live as independent adults, Ms. Nadolski said.

She explained that her father was a member of the board of directors for Balance Inc. when the organization, which provides housing and day services for people with disabilities, was in its infancy.

“He purchased a duplex and leased it to Balance when its resources were limited,” Ms. Nadolski said. “He didn’t do it to make money. He did it to help sustain the organization.”

Mr. Nadolski is survived by his six children, Kathleen Nadolski of Cudahy, David  (Theresa) of Menomonee Falls, Edward (Jacqueline) of Burlington, Kristine (Bruce) Tayloe of Bucyrus, Mo., John (Shelley) of Lake Elmo, Minn., and Andrew of Grafton.

He is further survived by his sister Nancy Slater, of Seaside Heights, N.J., 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at St. John XXIII Catholic Parish, St. Peter of Alcantara Church in Port Washington.

A visitation beginning at 4 p.m. will precede the Mass.

A committal service for family and friends will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Port Washington.

Eernisse Funeral Home, Port Washington, is handling the arrangements.

The family has suggested memorials to Balance Inc., Grafton, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons with developmental disabilities. Additional information is available at balanceinc.org.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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