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A loving family man and veteran, Chester Kmieciak was perhaps best known as one of the last surviving shoe repairmen in the Illinois Valley. Kmieciak of La Salle died Friday just months after turning 100. “He’s definitely an icon on Eighth Street,” said Jim Schmitz, owner of Smitty’s Service Station, located just down the street from Kmieciak’s shop. “I’m 61 and he’s been there as long as I’ve been alive.” Kmieciak, who served as a United States Army medic during World War II, took the business over from his father after the war. Although demand for shoe repairs dropped dramatically over the course of Kmieciak’s life he continued to operate the business until a couple months ago. Kmieciak’s son-in-law Mike Skoflanc has assisted him with the business in recent years. Skoflanc will continue to operate the business although new business hours likely will be posted in coming weeks, said his wife, Francie Skoflanc, Kmieciak’s daughter. While Kmieciak will no longer be in his shop, his presence will likely be remembered there for a long time. “He was happy in life and had a great family by his side,” Francie said. “We’re focused on celebrating his life.” Schmitz remembers Kmieciak as a nice person and talented craftsman. “He was very good at repairing leather products,” he said. The NewsTribune most recently wrote about Kmieciak when he turned 100 on Feb. 17. Read that story here: http://newstrib.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubsectionID=37&ArticleID=26711
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Article comment by:
Chester was a model of community spirit, service, humility, generosity and love in La Salle.
He respected all and did his best to fix hearts and shoes, both souls and soles.
From his new job as angel, may he shepard many more like him to live within the boundaries of La Salle. We welcome them!
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