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October 28, 2008 3:28 am

Erwin D. ((Babe) Funke

Written by Tribune Staff

(April 7, 1920 - Oct. 25, 2008)

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Erwin D. (Babe) Funke opened his eyes, and he had one arm around his wife, Jean, and the other around his grandson, Reece. He whispered, “I've been wondering where you two went.” He was surrounded by family and friends who had passed before him. His eyes filled with tears of joy; his heart was full of love, and he felt like whistling again.

Erwin Delos Funke, long-time owner of a Powell dry cleaning establishment, died at his Powell home. He was 88.

In Hollenberg, Kans., on April 7, 1920, his eldest sister, Viola, came out of the birthing room and announced to her younger sisters that “Mom had another damn boy.” He was the “Babe” of Ernest and Augusta Funke's nine children.

While growing up, he enjoyed reading and playing basketball and baseball. He quit smoking at the age of 7, worked on the family farm and bootlegged whiskey with his brothers. The Funke Boys were well known in Kansas.

He graduated from high school and moved to Wyoming. He did some ranch work and then worked for Allen Klindt at his clothing and dry cleaning store. He joined the Army in 1942 and served in the 255th Anti-Aircraft Artillery

Automatic Weapons Battalion in the Aleutian Islands. After his discharge in 1945, he hitchhiked back to Kansas, moved to Wyoming and married Mary Jane (Jean) Anania on Oct. 10, 1949. They bought the cleaners and started their family.

Babe enjoyed watching his kids and grandkids in sports and enjoyed being around them. His grandsons were special to him, and he was so proud and thankful to have them. He was a firm believer that a hard day's work would never hurt anyone. He loved to dance with his wife, play bridge and poker with friends and watch boxing on TV. He enjoyed being with his boat club friends and participating in the summer activities (his CB handle was Mr. Clean), fishing off the boat and his profession.

He was a member of the Big Horn Basin Boat Club, Elks, American Legion, Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus and the Powell Chamber of Commerce. He was a loving husband, dad and gramps; an honest, hard-working businessman and nice guy. He will be greatly missed by his family; he was always there for them and helped teach them what was important in life. His passion for his work has been passed on to the next generation.

Survivors include his son, Dan Funke (Maureen Howard) of Las Cruces, N.M.; his daughter, Terry K. (Larry) Schleich of Powell; brother, Fritz Funke of Emblem; sister-in-law, Terry Hilliard of Powell; grandsons, Mike (Tanya) Funke and great-grandson, Mikey of Gig Harbor, Wash., and A.J. Schleich of Billings, Mont.; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife Jean; grandson, Reece Schleich; three sisters, Viola Boston, Elma Sand and Helen McIntosh; and four brothers, Bill, Lou, Dan and Bud Funke.

Funeral Mass will be Friday, Oct. 31 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Barbara's Catholic Church. Burial will be in Crown Hill Cemetery under the direction of Thompson Funeral Home.

For those who wish, memorials may be sent to the Reece Schleich Wrestling Fund at Northwest College or to a charity of choice.