Donald Andrew “Don” Sirek, 90

Donald Andrew “Don” Sirek passed away on July 22nd at the age of 90, in his hometown of New Prague, Minnesota.  Don was born on April 26, 1932, in New Prague to Andrew and Sentina (Crema) Sirek.  Raised in the Catholic faith, he attended St. Wenceslaus Grade School and graduated from New Prague High School, where he enjoyed seasonal sports including football, baseball, and basketball.  In 1948 Don completed all the requirements to become an Eagle Scout with a Bronze Palm.  He continued his studies at St. Thomas University, earning a Degree in Business Administration.  After graduation, Don was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent 19 months at SHAPE Headquarters/Allied Powers Europe, located outside Paris, France.

 In 1956 Don initiated his career with the FDIC as a Bank Examiner.  He joined the staff at the State Bank of New Prague in 1959, where he would work his way through numerous positions from entry level to leadership roles.  In 1983 he moved on from his role as Chairman of the Board at the State Bank to join the management team at the First National Bank of Arizona.  He continued his career as President of the First State Bank of St. Joseph, in St. Joseph, Minnesota from 1989 through December 1992, when he retired.  During his tenure in the banking field, Don engaged in active membership with the Minnesota Bankers Association, where he served for a 2-year term as Treasurer, and with the American Bankers Association, where he was a member of the Safety and Soundness Committee.  Don also furthered his professional training with a degree from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin Madison, as well as attending a Senior Bank Officers’ Seminar-Institute for Financial Management (sponsored by IBA of America) through Harvard University Cambridge, MA.  With a passion for community banking, service, and development, Don was also active through those years in various New Prague Community organizations including St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church (Trustee); Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Golf Club Board, Catholic Workmen, Knights of Columbus, American Legion, and VFW, in addition to forming the New Prague Industrial Group that is now known as the Economic Development Authority.

 Don married his loving bride, Veda Knezovich, who he met shortly after she began a high school teaching assignment in New Prague, on August 1, 1959, at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church.  He always expressed how blessed he felt for the love, companionship, and commitment that they nurtured during 62 years of married life.  They soon became parents to what would become a family of 6 children.  Regardless of his presence in career and community, Don was very much a family man, and found much joy in seeing the children grow and mature into the blessings they have been in the family, each with their unique accomplishments.   Family expanded into another generation with 8 grandchildren.  The last several years brought the arrival of great-grandchildren…3 little boys including twins.

 Through the years, Don and Veda cultivated special friendships and found time to enjoy travels together.  Long-lasting friends provided memories that would be treasured for many years, including fishing trips and golf outings, as well as bible study, extracurricular school activities and gatherings with family and friends.  Opportunities for travel eventually brought Don and Veda the chance to take in new experiences together.  Their adventures took them on a New Year’s trip to London and a 3-week tour in Australia.  Since Don’s retirement in 1992, Don and Veda were drawn to the sunny winters in welcoming Fountain Hills, Arizona.  There, reading and golf were favorite hobbies, along with following several favorite sports teams including the University of Minnesota football and hockey teams and the Vikings, Wild, Twins and the New York Rangers.  Over the years, travel interests and family connections led the way to visit Europe including Yugoslavia, Spain, Medjugorje, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, in addition to Mexico.  A particularly memorable trip was their most recent one, a river cruise with their son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Dianne, through France, where they enjoyed cherished time together and a wonderful tour.

 Don’s years in banking nurtured a deep connection with the community of New Prague and the surrounding area.  While accolades were not easily received given his humble spirit, Don and Veda were selected by the New Prague Chamber of Commerce to be Grand Marshals of the Dozinky Day Parade in 2006.  In 2007, Don was recognized by the New Prague High School with the Distinguished Alumni Award.  While his passion for contributing to community service and development has been noteworthy, of most importance to him would be the values of faith, family, integrity, humility, and compassion that inspired his daily life.  He was known to remind those who were close to him that “I” is the least important letter in the English language.  He had a special way of saying ‘much’ by saying ‘little’.  He will be remembered for his one-line quips packed with wisdom, along with so many other qualities including his strong and grateful heart, his gift as a listener, his quick wit, and his easy-going nature, all which he graciously and generously shared with others.  He will be missed deeply by his family and all who knew him.

 Don is survived by his beloved wife, Veda, of New Prague; his children: Mary Beth (Raul) Viruete, San Diego, CA; Kathryn Sirek, Faribault, MN; Michelle Sirek, Fountain Hills, AZ; Michael (Dianne) Sirek, New York, NY and Old Saybrook, CT; Bobbi Sue (Chris) Morris, Littleton, CO; Joe (Olivia) Sirek, Crowley, TX; his grandchildren, Lauren (Aaron) Levinger, Liz Viruete, Rachel Viruete, Ashley (Drew) Feuk, Joseph Morris, Nathan Austad, Kristin Sirek, Breanna Woelfel, and 3 great-grandchildren, Carter and Cameron Feuk and Aaron Levinger, Jr.  His surviving siblings include Elizabeth “Betty” Birnstiel, Lakewood, CO; Margaret Jean “Peggy” Raber, Louisville, KY; Donna Giesen, New Prague, MN.  He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Mary Lou Harvey, and brothers-in-law Al Birnstiel and Don Geyer.

 Mass of Christian Burial to honor the life of Don Sirek will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 at 10:00 AM at St. Wenceslaus Church, with Father Theisen officiating and co-celebrants, Father Clinton and Father Miller.  Urn-bearer will be Joseph Morris, grandson.  Honorary pallbearers will be the grandchildren.  Visitation will take place from 4-7 pm on Tuesday and 7:30-9:30 Wednesday morning at Bruzek Funeral Home.  The funeral mass will be live-streamed on npcatholic.org.  Burial will follow Mass at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery, where military honors will be conducted by the New Prague Area Veterans Honor Guard.  Lunch will follow at Sand Creek Golf Club.

 In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered to the St. Wenceslaus Catholic School Tuition Assistance Fund.  Messages of condolences may be shared on the Bruzek Funeral Home website.  bruzekfuneralhome.com

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