Joseph Polanka Sr.


Joseph R. Polanka Sr., 82, of Westport, passed away at 9:23 p.m. Thursday, July 28, 2016, at Silver Oaks Health Care Center in Columbus, surrounded by his family.

He was born August 1, 1933, in Marion County, Illinois, the son of Joseph and Linnie (Aumiller) Polanka. Raised in Alma, Illinois,  he graduated from Kinmundy Community High School in 1951 and Bradley University in 1959, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in machine design. He completed his Tool Maker apprenticeship at Caterpillar Company in Peoria, Illinois. Joseph was employed by Barber-Coleman in Rockford, Illinois, and Arvin Industries at the Gladstone, Greenwood and North Vernon plants.

He was a member of Bear Creek Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and was a past member of the Bartholomew County 4H Fair board and the American Angus Association. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, enjoyed farming and raising Angus cattle and collected John Deere tractors.

He married Betty J. Ernst December 20, 1955, in Kinmundy, Illinois. She preceded him in death May 4, 2003.

Survivors include his dear friend and caregiver, Doris Gardner; his daughter, Elizabeth Green of Tulsa, Oklahoma; his sons, Joseph R. Polanka Jr. of Westport and David E. (Gwen) Polanka of Panama City, Florida; his sister, Cathryn V. Reed of Maryville, Illinois; and his grandchildren, Adam Polanka, Jonathan (Raven) Polanka, Connor Polanka, Ryan Green, Erin Green, Yvette Polanka and Jasmine Polanka.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; a son-in-law, Eric Green; and a great-grandson, Himmel Jasper Polanka.

Funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Monday, August 1, 2016, at Bear Creek Baptist Church with the Rev. Kendall Wildy officiating. Burial with military graveside rites will be at Bear Creek Cemetery. A time of visitation will be held from 3 until 6 p.m. Sunday at Bass & Gasper Funeral Home in Westport.

Memorial contributions may be made through the funeral home to the Gideon Memorial Bible Program or Bear Creek Baptist Church.

Online condolences can be expressed to the family at