December 3, 2018
St. Paul Catholic Church
1102 Walnut Street
Traer, Iowa 50765
Overton Funeral Home, Traer
December 2, 2018
Overton Funeral Home
714 First Street
Traer, Iowa 50675
Ernest “Ernie” Joseph Pokorny
Ernest Joseph Pokorny of Bondurant, formerly of Traer, died on Monday, November 19, 2018 at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines at the age of 91. A visitation will be held on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at Overton Funeral Home: 714 First Street, Traer, Iowa, 50675 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. The funeral service will be held at St. Paul Catholic Church: 1102 Walnut Street in Traer, on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 10:30 am with burial following at the St. Paul Catholic Cemetery, along with full military honors. A luncheon will be served at the church’s Fellowship Hall immediately following.
Ernest was born January 7, 1927 on the Pokorny family farm northwest of Clutier into a bilingual Czech-English household. He was the eldest and last surviving sibling of three children from the marriage of Joe Pokorny and Hermina Podhajsky. When Ernest was five years old, his mother, Hermina, died of complications giving birth to his brother, Lester. Hermina’s death was a deeply felt loss that Ernest carried with him the rest of his life. For most of his childhood and teen years, Ernest was raised in a blended family. His Aunt Agnes (Pokorny) Novotny, who was newly widowed, and her two young daughters, Irene Sienknecht (Lyle) and Martha Seda (Jimmy), joined households with Joe and his three young children on the family farm. Ernest fondly remembered growing up with his aunt and two cousins, especially Irene who was his faithful and much appreciated tutor through grade school, junior high and much of high school. With equal fondness, he remembered the long periods of time he spent as a child living with his maternal grandparents, Joe and Albina Podhajsky, and their older sons, Ernest’s uncles, Joe and Albert. It was from his two uncles that Ernest acquired a passion for playing the button box accordion. And, in many ways, Uncle Joe Podhajsky became a surrogate father for Ernest, a relationship that continued throughout the years that Ernest farmed southwest of Traer on land adjacent to his uncle’s farm.
When Ernest was 15, his father married Mamie (Cizek) Duhachek. Mamie brought with her to their marriage two children from her previous marriage to deceased Arthur Duhachek. They were her daughter, Dorothy, and her son, Bernard. Yet, again, another blended family formed and lived on a farm adjacent to the original Pokorny homestead. Ernest often expressed how much indebted he, his two siblings, and his two step-siblings were to Mamie’s commitment to fashioning a single-family unit out of two – a family that bore none of the sad distinctions that so often fracture a family composed of step-children and step-parents.
After being graduated from Clutier High School in 1944, Ernest joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Korea just as the Korean Conflict was beginning to unfold. Upon his return from service in 1947, Ernest resumed farming with his father near Clutier. He met his future wife, Gladys Hach of Dysart, Iowa, at a dance held in the ZCBJ hall in Clutier, one of several very popular dance venues frequented by Czechs in Tama County. Both Ernest and Gladys were exceptionally fine dancers. Dancing was probably the greatest enjoyment that the two shared. Gladys and Ernest married on November 22, 1949 in Clutier, Iowa at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. They farmed together for 16 years southwest of Traer where they established had four children: Steven, Kevin, Cynthia and David. In 1966, they relocated their farming operation to a farm southeast of Traer where they both lived until Gladys’s declining health required her placement in a skilled nursing facility in Waterloo. Several years after Gladys died in 1995, Ernest retired off the farm to live first in Waterloo, later in Traer and Des Moines and, for the past year and half, in Bondurant, Iowa.
The family remembers Ernest as a devoted husband and an exemplary spouse. For nearly 25 years, Ernest balanced farming and caring at home for a wife who increasingly became physically incapacitated by advancing complications of multiple sclerosis. During that time, Ernest took Gladys to numerous different treatment centers both in the states and abroad, always hopeful of finding a cure or a procedure conducive of remission. And, as with so many other victims of MS at the time, each venture was met with disappointment. Yet, even after placement of Gladys in a skilled nursing facility in Waterloo, Ernest continued for six years his nearly daily visits to be with her and to participate with the medical staff in providing the services and care that she required until her death.
Family members preceding Ernest in death were his wife, Gladys, his sister, Leona Velky, and his brother, Lester; Ernest’s parents, Joe and Hermina; his step-mother, Mamie; his dearly loved parents-in-law, William and Marie Hach; his much loved two uncles, Joe and Albert Podhajsky, and his two brothers-in-law, Melvin Hach and Wilbert Hach. Ernest is survived by his four children: Steven (Joel Wulf), Kevin (Martha Gelhaus), Cynthia Pokorny Martinez, and David (Betsy), all from the Des Moines area; six grandchildren, their spouses, one great-grand son and one great-grand-son on the way; his sister-in-law, Dianne Pokorny; a brother-in-law, Jerry Velky; his step-sister and brother-in-law, Dorothy and Vernon Hanus; his step-brother and sister-in-law, Bernard and Ginny Duhachek; and two sisters-in-law Marcella Hach and Irene Hach.
The family is deeply grateful to the medical staff of Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines for their exceptional care of Ernest and for the wonderful kindness and consideration they showed toward the family. The family wants to thank the staff of Ramsey Village, Des Moines, and Courtyard Estates, Bondurant, for the care and kindness that Ernest received from them. The family also thanks The Polka Club of Iowa for providing Ernest many opportunities for him to enjoy, during his advancing years, the traditional Czech music he so dearly loved.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in the memory of Ernest and Gladys Pokorny. National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library 1400 Inspiration Place SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 319-362-8500 www.ncsml.org Envelopes for donations to the Museum will be available both at Overton’s Funeral Home and at St. Paul’s Church.
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