In memory of

Karl E. Wilczynski, age 86 of Helena

March 5, 1931 – August 24, 2017

Karol “Karl” Edward Wilczynski Jr. was born March 5, 1931 in Hillside, New Jersey, to Emily Schwarz and Karl Wilczynski Sr.  He passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of August 24, 2017.  The second of four children, Karl grew up in Hillside, with numerous cousins and friends, whom he was still close with to the day of his passing.

After high school graduation, Karl enlisted in the U.S Marine Corps, at the age of 19, serving his country overseas in the Korean War and being honorably discharged in 1955.

Soon thereafter, Karl and a friend moved to Missoula, Montana, where he enrolled at the University of Montana.  While a student, he enjoyed his time working as a bartender and as a driver for Mayflower Van Lines. He took up golf and enjoyed socializing and dancing in the local dance halls.

While in Missoula, Karl met Shirley Johnson Christiansen and her young son, Mark.  Karl and Shirley married in Great Falls, on June 10, 1972, and recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Their daughter Tanya was born in 1974 and shortly thereafter the family moved to Helena where Karl and Shirley built their family home of 44 years.

Karl graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Sciences, and began his teaching career in Rudyard, Montana.  In 1972, he transferred to C. R. Anderson Middle School, in Helena, where he taught physical and health sciences for over 22 years. He retired from teaching in 1994.

Always an educator Karl, “Mr. Wil”, found a way to infuse humor and fun into middle school science classes.  He inspired a love of science and an inquisitive mind in not only his daughter, but many students over the years.  He had a remarkable way of remembering most all of the students who sat in his classroom and could often recall a story about each former student he encountered over the years.

Karl shared many hobbies with his family including: golfing at Green Meadow Country Club, downhill skiing throughout the state, boating and fishing at Canyon Ferry and Hauser Reservoirs, and sitting on the deck of their home overlooking the Helena Valley, watching the stars and satellites.

Karl most enjoyed being around family and close friends.  He especially relished his time with his grandsons and loved to sing them “his songs”.

His gentle spirit, humorous remarks, and desire to pass on all he had learned over the years will be greatly missed by his friends and surviving family including his wife, Shirley of Helena; son, Mark Christiansen, of Scottsdale, AZ; grandsons, Cody (26) and Kyle (25); daughter, Tanya (Pat) Call, of Helena; grandson, Luke (9); sister, Carleen Calvani; nephews, Douglas and Jeffrey; along with numerous in-laws and nieces/nephews.  He is preceded in death by: his parents; sister, Valerie; and brother, Conrad.

We are deeply grateful to Dr. Paustian and Dr. Weiner, as well as the nurses and staff at the Cancer Treatment Center, and nurses at St. Peter’s Hospital, who gently cared for him and supported and guided his family over the last several years.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM, Tuesday, September 5, 2017, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, in Helena, with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall, also at the church. A graveside service with military honors, will be held 3:00 PM, Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at the Montana State Veteran’s Cemetery, 3550 Hero’s Rd, Fort Harrison, Montana. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity of one’s choice, or “In Memory of Karl Wilczynski” to Cohesion Dance Project, 1020 Argyle St, Helena, MT 59601.



Read the thoughts and memories, then feel free to add your own.

  1. Jane Smilie says:

    Shirley, Tanya, Pat and Family — We are thinking of you, sending our love and prayers. Jane and Dal Smilie

  2. Patsy Peach says:

    To Shirley, Tanya and Family-My thoughts and prayers are with you. Patsy peach

  3. Jenny Koffler says:

    Shirley, Tanya,Pat and family – I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Thinking of you!
    Jenny Koffler ( Barker)

  4. Charlene White says:

    So very sorry for your loss. May fond memories help you through this difficult time. Thoughts and prayers are sent your way. Charlene

  5. jan mower says:

    To Shirley, Mark, Tanya and family – I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My prayers are with each of you throughout this difficult time. Jan

  6. Jeff and Shelley Mower says:

    Shirley, Mark Tanya and Family – We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our prayers are also with you. I hope Karl and my dad are fishing, laughing, and telling stories!

  7. Tim Racicot says:

    Tanya and family – heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Wil. What a wonderful man and a gifted teacher. I have many happy memories of the twinkle is his eye whenever I passed him in the halls of CR, even all these years later. Thoughts and prayers to your entire family.

  8. Marianne Niesen says:

    My love and prayers are with you, Shirley.

  9. Sharon Slezak says:

    Shirley and family, our prayers are with you at this difficult time. God bless you!
    Jerry and Sharon Slezak

  10. Trayce Gannon says:

    Thoughts , prayers and lots of love to you Shirley, Mark and Tanya as you go through this difficult time.

  11. Penny & RJ Haffner says:

    Mark and family – We are sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with you and your family.

  12. Vanessa & Chuck Tolson says:

    Shirley & family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. We are sorry for your loss.

  13. Rehanna Olson says:

    Shirley, Tanya, and Family: Mr. Wil was one of my favorites… I’ll never forget how the guys “held up the wall” every day between classes at CR. It was such a joy to re-connect at performances every year. You could tell how proud of you he was, Tanya! I always felt like he knew and remembered me as an individual, not just another of his many students. May God grant you peace and the joy of your fondest memories in this time. I’ll miss seeing you, Mr. Wil.

  14. Duane and Barb Robertson says:

    Shirley, Tanya, Pat, Mark,
    We have you all in our thoughts and prayers. We also wanted you to know we cannot be at the funeral as we are going to a family funeral in Polson which is at the very same time. But you will be in our thoughts.
    Duane and Barb Robertson

  15. Duane and Barb Robertson says:

    Shirley, Tanya and Pat, Mark,
    You are all in our thoughts and prayers at this time of loss. We also wanted to let you know we cannot attend the funeral tomorrow as we have a family member’s funeral in Polson. But we will be with you in spirit.

  16. Christina (Whalon) Loudermilk says:

    On behalf of my father, Donald (Don) Whalon, and his family, our deepest condolences are with you. My dad and Karl grew up together in Hillside and I believe my grandmother used to watch Karl when he was young. He was referred to as “Brother”. We have pictures of my dad’s visit up to Big Sky country and he always talked fondly about Karl and his trip to MT. I wish I had some stories to share, but I do think one my dad told me was of him and Karl driving around, with some friends in high school, listening to country songs and practicing their yodeling. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Mr. Wilczynski, I remember him from science class at CR Anderson. He made it interesting and I enjoyed his class so much that I’ve always remembered his name while other teachers’ names may have faded. Prayers for his family.

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