Obituary: Walter ‘Wally’ Taranko, 75, Ludington.
Walter “Wally” Taranko, of Ludington, peacefully passed away surrounded by family on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the age of 75. Wally was born on October 19, 1943 in Chicago. He has been a longtime resident of Ludington and devoted his life to serving his community and country.
Wally graduated from Ludington High School in 1961. He was also a graduate of West Shore Community College earning an associate’s degree of applied arts and sciences in police and public administration.
Wally began his years of public service by joining the United States Army in 1961. After serving his country, he returned to Ludington where he was finally able to convince the love of his life, Sally Ann Nielsen-Taranko to marry him. They have been married for 53 years.
Wally continued his lifetime commitment to public service by joining the Ludington Police Department in 1968. He served on the force as a patrolman, sargent, detective, captain and achieved his ultimate goal serving as the chief of police for the last 11 years of his 33 year career. Wally also re-enlisted in the armed forces during this time and became a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserves serving as a member of the Coast Guard intelligence division.
After retiring from the Ludington Police Department, Wally continued his years of public service by becoming the Mason County emergency manager, executive director of the West Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross, member of the Ludington City Councill and was currently serving as a Mason County commissioner representing district 1. Additionally, Wally served on numerous boards of directors and committees including the 911 Board, Homeland Security committee and West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission to name a few.
Wally lived his life to the fullest and made an impact on the lives of many. He was “one of a kind” who will be best remembered for his witty personality, gift to gab, love of Elvis, 1940s big band music, the Chicago Cubs and chili dogs.
He most enjoyed spending time with his family, having coffee with his brother Joe and sister Bonnie, driving the police boat and bragging about his four granddaughters who called him “Pop-Pop”.
He is survived by his wife, Sally Taranko (Nielsen); son, John Taranko and his wife, Amy Taranko; daughter Barb Taranko-Shaw and her husband, Greg Shaw; one brother, Joe Taranko and his wife Julie Taranko; one sister, Bonnie Bartnick; four granddaughters, Emma Taranko, Carlie Shaw, Grace Taranko and Libby Shaw; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and his precious dog Bella.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Helen Taranko (Krokos); father, Walter Taranko Sr.; stepmother, Dorothy Taranko and sister, Dorothy Taranko.
A celebration of Wally’s life will include a visitation on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. at Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington and on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 from 1 to 2 p.m. at St. Simon Catholic Church.
Funeral Services will take place on April 17, 2019 at 2 p.m. at St. Simon Catholic Church of Ludington. Immediately following the service a procession will take Wally to Lakeview Cemetery for a military service immediately following the funeral.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington, www.oakgroveludington.com.