Anthony 'Tony' Kujawa


John 1:1     1 Corinthians 15

To his last breath, Tony was a firm believer in Jesus Christ and recognized Him as his redeemer. He passed away peacefully with his son/caregiver by his side on Oct. 2, 2018, at Twin Cities Community Hospital, Templeton.

Tony was born Aug. 2, 1932, in Bremond, Texas, to Vincent and Magdalene Kujawa and was raised on a 200-acre cotton farm during the Great Depression and World War II, in Reagan, Texas. He was the seventh child of five brothers and four sisters in a typically large, traditional Polish-Catholic family. Besides picking cotton, they grew corn, raised cows, pigs, chickens and sold gravel they dug out of a pit on the farm. He graduated from Bremond High School, Class of 1950.

In February 1952, Tony joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in San Diego during boot camp. He served during the Korean War (June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953) and was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Mt. McKinley, U.S.S. Estes and U.S.S. Mt. Olympus, which were command and communications ships (cryptographer/teletype operator) as well as LSM(R) #412 (Landing Ship Medium-Rocket), an amphibious fire support ship (rocket loader). He completed active duty in February 1956 and was honorably discharged from reserves in February 1960 as an E4 (Petty Officer 3d class, specifically TN3/teleman). He was involved in two campaigns during the Korean War. And toured the Pacific extensively thereafter, including Japan, China, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Midway Island, Australia, as well as the Arctic.

Upon discharge, Tony lived with cousins in East Los Angeles and worked at a plastics factory for a short time. He then left Los Angeles on a train in early 1956, on his way back to the farm. While passing through San Diego, he noticed a hiring billboard for General Dynamics/Convair (missile and aircraft manufacturing), adjacent to Lindbergh Field-San Diego Airport. He applied and was hired in March 1956, as an electrical installer in jet aircraft and Atlas missiles, working eventually into federal cataloging and technical writing.

Tony also attended San Diego Community College by day during the late 50’s, where he studied diesel mechanics and worked a full-time night shift at Convair. It was at General Dynamics that Tony met his future wife Jacqueline (“Jackie”) in January 1961. Tony and Jackie were wed on Jan. 25, 1964, at Our Lady of Angels church in San Diego.

After acquiring a license in cosmetology, Tony eventually left Convair and he and Jackie rented a small house within walking distance of the beach, on 7th street in Del Mar. Throughout the 1960's he worked first at a salon at the Sea Horse Inn and would eventually own and operate his own business, employing eight people at one time. It was located at the corner of Highway 101 and Via De La Valle, which overlooked the Del Mar racetrack and fairgrounds.

As the 1960's came to a close, Tony became a father, first to son Vincent in July 1967. In October 1967, Tony and Jackie bought their first home in Solana Beach. In May 1968, their second son Jack was born.

Tony then began to make another career change, following a year of courses in upholstery, which he completed in October 1969. Soon afterward he went into business partnership with his upholstery instructor, William Higgins. In January 1970, they opened Solana Upholstery on what used to be The Boardwalk on Highway 101, Solana Beach. Throughout 1970-71, Tony also assisted Higgins in teaching an upholstery course at San Dieguito Union High School in Encinitas (Adult Education night classes). Among Solana Upholstery’s clients during the 70's were local retired actors Desi Arnaz (Del Mar) and Victor Mature (Rancho Santa Fe).

During 1977, at the advice of his father-in-law Jack, Tony considered employment with the State of California, Department of Mental Health (DMH) as an upholsterer. In temporary positions, he began in January 1978 at Porterville State Hospital, transferred in July 1978 to Camarillo State Hospital and finally wound up at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) in August 1979.

Tony continued to co-own Solana Upholstery while he was working for DMH, with Bill managing several employees at that point, during the late 1970's. He commuted round trip, 600 miles, from areas north to Solana Beach every Friday night for over three years, in order to be with his family on weekends and to check up on the business at home. He would return Sunday nights, all while awaiting a permanent position at whatever State Hospital employed him at the time. They amicably closed the business in summer 1980 and a year later the family moved to Atascadero in June 1981.

After settling in Atascadero, Tony interviewed for a vocational instructor position with California Department of Corrections (CDC) at California Correctional Center (CCC) State Prison at Susanville in December 1982. He was offered the position, however, reconsidered after having seriously contemplated moving (again) and remained at ASH, which continued to promise activation of a vocational instructor position.

In July 1983, Tony finally attained the position at ASH, which kept promising, but never delivered a more complete vocational program. CDC then finally activated a vocational upholstery program closer to home at California Men's Colony (CMC) State Prison, West Facility, at San Luis Obispo. Tony interviewed and was offered the position in August 1987, joining his wife who had previously been hired there in the East Records Dept., July 1982.

After teaching offenders the trade for 19 years, Tony retired from CMC in December 1997, along with Jackie, in order to better care for her as she was in cancer remission at the time. He continued doing upholstery side-work in his shop, which he had done from 1980 until 2002, specializing in complete restoration of antique furniture, at times more as a hobby, much less in retirement.

As a native Texan, Tony was partial to country music, having played standup bass in a band during his youth, along with two of his brothers, Clem and Joe. He also loved Hawaiian steel guitar music (which he attempted to play at times). Tony was above all a devoted husband and father. He was a hard and meticulous worker, a veteran, and a good man to a fault, always there

for you. He was a 3d Degree Knight of Columbus. And he was a great fan of Roy Rogers, whom he and Jackie met during a visit to Rogers' Apple Valley ranch in the early 1990's.

Tony was preceded in death by siblings Lillian, Louis, Raymond, Sally, Clemens and Joseph. He had the best wife and mother to his sons that he could have hoped for, Jackie, who predeceased him in September 2001 at the age of 59. He is survived by his sisters Helen Graham and Joan Zaborowski of Houston, and brother John of Waco; brother-in-law William Brockman of Bakersfield, sister-in-law Rhonda Usher of Porterville, many nieces (Leah, Michelle, Rose, Rita, Susan, Alesha, Jennifer and Joneta) and nephews (David, Charles, Doug, Michael, John, Ken, Mark, Steve, Joe and Brian) on both sides, as well as his son Jack (wife Colleen, daughters Kerris and Grace) of Camarillo, and son Vince of Atascadero.

As a farmer, animal lover and owner of many dogs during his life, Tony would have preferred that, in lieu of flowers, you might send a donation to the San Luis Obispo County Animal Shelter, 805-781-4400 or Woods Humane Society, 805-543-9316.

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 from 5 to 9 p.m. with a rosary at 6 p.m.

A graveside service will take place on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 at 11 a.m. at Atascadero District Cemetery.

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