May 9, 1926 - May 5, 2017
Arthur Louis Pakula, a long-time resident of Dallas, Texas passed away peacefully on May 5, 2017. Born on May 9, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, Art was the eldest child of Joseph Pakula and Carolina Wolanin.
Art graduated from Lane Technical High School in Chicago where he was a member of the ROTC and the Civil Air Patrol, leading him to secure his pilot’s license. In 1944, Art joined the 5th Army Air Corps Headquarters Squadron, training at Buckley Field in Denver, Colorado. From there he deployed to the Pacific Theater as part of the Army of Occupation as a radio mechanic flying in B-25 Mitchell bombers.
He achieved the rank of Corporal and was awarded several military decorations. Prior to his deployment back to the United States, Art experienced walking through the rubble of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1946, he was honorably discharged.
On June 5, 1947, Art married Valerie L. Gricius. Early in their marriage, they lived in Chicago where they welcomed three children into their lives. Meanwhile, Art attended the American Television Institute of Technology where he received an engineering degree. In 1949, he entered the employ of the United States Government as an Industrial Specialist with the Department of Defense/DCASR and several years later, the family moved to Villa Park, Illinois.
In 1961, due to his expertise in managing government contracts, Art was afforded the opportunity to move to Dallas to become the Chief Quality Assurance Inspector for government contracts with Texas Instruments, Varo, Inc., and Collins Radio, to name a few. He received numerous accolades and certificates of merit for his work. Throughout his career, Art also worked with numerous government agencies including the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the Air Force Institute of Technology, FEMA, and NASA. While working with NASA, he played an instrumental part in the Viking Mars Project, the Apollo 8 Mission, and the fledgling Space Shuttle project. After a 39-year career with the United States Government, Art retired in 1988.
In a letter he received from the Department of Defense upon his retirement, his manager wrote of his achievements and added, “Probably more importantly, though, is the reputation you have established as being one of the ultimately unflappable people who can act and react in tough situations and just quietly get difficult things done, done right, and done on time … I have always appreciated the fact that your approach is one of total integrity. There is a widely recognized conviction that, if Art Pakula says it, it’s so.”
Art enjoyed flying as a young adult and he continued his love of aviation by attending numerous air shows with his son in his later years. During retirement, he also enjoyed a good round of golf with his buddies, scoring a newsworthy hole-in-one at Tenison Park GC. Boating with his children and grandchildren, and square dancing and travelling with his wife and friends were also among his favorite pastimes.
Art was a patient, good-natured, humble man who was devoted to God, his family, and his good friends. An animal lover, he adored the many pets he had over the years, from his beloved canines, Tippy, Ginger, and Bones to his favorite feline, Gracie, and a host of other furry friends.
His family and many friends will miss this man dearly but are comforted knowing that he is at peace in the hands of his Lord. Art was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Alfred (Freddy) Pakula. Leaving to cherish his memory are his beloved wife Valerie Pakula; daughter Chris Swanson and husband Jim of Bloomingdale, IL, son Jeff Pakula and wife Kim of Garland, TX, and daughter Janice Pakula of Dallas, TX; eight grandchildren; and fifteen great-grandchildren. He is survived also by numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and a host of friends, both young and old.
The family will be receiving visitors from 9:00 to 10:00 am on Friday, May 12, 2016 at St. Monica Catholic Church, 9933 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75220.
Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10:00 am following the visitation.
There will be a reception following the service at St. Monica.
Following the reception there will be a procession to the graveside service, with military honors, at the DFW National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, Texas 75211 at 1:15 pm.
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