Frank Wichlacz was born February 5‚ 1932‚ in Pulaski‚ Wisconsin. He graduated from Pulaski High in 1949‚ and then served two years in the U.S. Army as an artillery instructor. On October 13‚ 1956‚ he married the love of his life for the next 51 years‚ Diane. Together they raised their three children (Randy‚ Alan & Jean) in the same small community they had grown up in.
Frank worked at Northern Shoe Company for 25 years as a supervisor. When the company closed‚ he worked for KI Furniture Company‚ overseeing furniture installations throughout the United States. Not being the type of person to sit idle‚ Frank joined the Pulaski Tri-County Fire Department in 1957. A member of the department for 51 years‚ Frank had truly discovered his life’s passion! He served in many capacities until he became chief in 1986‚ the position he would proudly hold for the next 21 years.
Frank was up for the challenge of making this small town volunteer department the best it could be. He was instrumental in securing funds‚ planning the design and overseeing the construction of a new fire station named in his honor. He was also very active in the various fire chiefs’ associations‚ serving as secretary of the Brown County Fire Chiefs’ Association. Frank painstakingly restored a 1933 antique REO fire truck‚ which the department proudly displays at many local parades and open houses at the fire station.
Not only did Frank serve his community by being a loyal member of the fire department‚ he was involved in many other ways as well. He served on the Pulaski Polka Days Committee‚ a major fundraiser for the department and many other local non-profit groups. He owned and operated Pulaski Sewing Center for 43 years. During the summer months he and Diane would attend many antique car shows throughout the area with their 1951 Studebaker‚ which he spent six years restoring. Frank loved to give his four grandchildren (Kim‚ Justin‚ Kristin & Shannon) rides in his ‘old-time’ car. When he wasn’t busy heading out in a fire truck or Studebaker‚ Frank could also be seen buzzing around town in his little red Scooter‚ complete with red light and siren!
On July 23‚ 2008‚ after an early morning structure fire‚ Chief Wichlacz was killed in the line of duty at the fire station while doing cleanup and maintenance. He will be forever missed‚ not only by his family and his department‚ but also an entire community that he dedicated a lifetime to making a better place.