January 12, 1920-January 23, 2006
John Henry Michael Golata was born January 12, 1920. His parents Anthony Golata (born in Germany) and Anna Roytek (born in Poland) had a dairy and small cash crop farm near Granger, Indiana, close to South Bend. John was the youngest of six children: Tony, Gertie, Betty, Mike and Mary. His penchant for handy-work and fascination with the mechanical began as a youth. As a child, he made wood model airplanes and an airport out of plywood with an erector set control tower that revolved. As a teen on the farm, he electrically wired the garage and chicken coop, having learned his skills at age 14 by unofficially trailing after an electrician. Noticing how the tall hay trailers hit overhead wires, he buried the wires undergroundrarely done in those days. He helped his mother dig out a basement under the kitchen, carrying the dirt out in pails. He installed their farmhouse indoor bathroom at age 16 (later installing the indoor bathroom in Dorothy's family farm in the 1940's). He said he would have installed a radio in the tractor had he stayed on the farm.
John saw that there was no future for him in farming, however, so he went to the American College of Mechanical Engineering taking correspondence courses in tool and die design. After working at Bendix in South Bend, he moved to Lansing, Michigan to work at Nash-Kelvinator, where he met Dorothy. John was wooed by Motor Wheel Corporation with higher wages [...] He began as a designer, was promoted to chief tool and die engineer, then plant manager, and eventually to Vice President of Manufacturing. He held patents for designing the first "style" (no hub cab) wheel. He was proud of the international travel his work required in Europe and South America. He retired in 1983 after 37 years at Motor Wheel (by then a subsidiary of Goodyear). John was described by a colleague as "the best wheel man in the world."
John married Dorothy Anna Cook (from Pewamo, Michigan) on July 3, 1943. He said, "I hadn't planned on such a nice looking woman." He served in the Army Air Corp during World War II, 1944-45. They had five daughters [names snipped]. They loved traveling, music-making, and going to the cottage with the family. They were eventually blessed with six granddaughters [names snipped] and four great-granddaughters: Emily, Brigit, Megan, and Brecklyn. This past year, Dorothy and John celebrated 63 wonderful years together.
He always loved being active, especially golfing, sailing, and woodworking. John and Dorothy square-danced, cross-country skied, played cards, and bowled. They were involved members of the Church of the Resurrection. John was proud of how he and Dorothy finished the interior of their cottage near Gladwin. They loved going up north throughout the year and also enjoyed becoming "snowbirds" in Florida in the winter. He was dubbed "a miracle man" by more than one doctor after surviving an aortic dissection in 2000. To avoid strain on the heart, he was forbidden the use of a hammer, yet John designed and constructed a pull-down bed, finished the basement and expanded the cottage deckwith an electric screwdriver!
At age 86, he passed away of a stroke on January 23, 2006 in Pensacola, Florida. From growing up on a farm to traveling the world -- explaining that he was "at the right place at the right time" -- John said he felt very lucky for his life experiences.