Obituary: Mark E. Sikora, 1921-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Mark E. Sikora, 1921-2022 

World War II veteran and secret service member was stationed behind enemy lines in China

click to enlarge Mark Sikora - COURTESY
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  • Mark Sikora
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mark E. Sikora on Good Friday, April 15, 2022, following a brief illness. Mark was born in Burlington, Vt., on November 5, 1921, the fifth of seven sons born to Alfred Paul and Nettie Mae (Fleury) Sikora.

Mark attended Cathedral High School before transferring to Burlington High School to take advantage of its music program, graduating in 1939. He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth “Betty” Guyette, on February 12, 1942, and shortly after, at the age of 20, entered the armed services, serving as a radio operator for the Office of Strategic Services in India and behind enemy lines in China until the end of World War II in 1945.

In 2018, Mark was one of the few remaining World War II veterans who was privileged to attend an Honor Flight ceremony in Washington, D.C., honoring veterans for their valor and service to the country. The ceremony was particularly special for Mark, as he and three of his brothers all served in combat during World War II. More information about Mark’s military service can be gleaned from the June 30, 2021, issue of The Islander newspaper, which can be found by googling en.calameo.com/read/000183757fd1717240774.

Upon his return to Burlington after the war, Mark began his 32-year career with AT&T and New England Telephone Company working on broadcast and communication systems, retiring in 1978 at the age of 56. Mark and Betty began raising their four children on Staniford Road in Burlington and made what was then a bold move to the “islands” in 1964, purchasing a property and building a home on the lake in South Hero, where they remained to the end.

Upon arriving in South Hero, Mark became one of the founding members of the South Hero Rescue Squad, serving as its first president, and was also a member of the volunteer fire department. And, at the age of 99, Mark was given the honor of serving as grand marshal at the South Hero Fourth of July parade.

Mark and Betty enjoyed winters in Florida, also to the end. After 72 years of marriage, Betty passed away on January 12, 2015, at the age of 91. Although always under the watchful eye of all four of his devoted children, Mark remained remarkably independent, residing in his own home and personally maintaining his two-acre homestead inside and out, including mowing his expansive lawn with his ride-on mower, and driving around town in his Dodge Caravan. At his recent 100th birthday party, Mark drove himself to the party, enjoyed the time with his family and friends, and drove himself home.
click to enlarge Mark Sikora - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Mark Sikora
Affectionately known as “Do-Dad,” Mark was the jack-of-all-trades. You name it, he could do it — carpentry, plumbing, anything electrical, building construction, woodworking, small engine repair, sewing, upholstering, furniture refinishing, cooking and gardening. In the late 1950s, Mark designed and built a family summer cottage on the southern end of South Hero. Thirty years later, in his late sixties, he spent multiple summers with his daughter and son-in-law building a cottage on Butler Island in North Hero. At the age of 88, he helped re-side his son’s two-story home with cedar shingles. When something needed fixing, more often than not the first response was, “Give Do-Dad a call; he can do it.” The entire family was truly blessed to have a father and grandfather who was so vigorous physically and sharp mentally for so many years.

Mark enjoyed, and was good at, many recreational pursuits, including golfing into his late eighties (two holes-in-one), fishing, boating, music and cribbage, to name a few. An avid sports fan, Mark regularly attended his grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s sporting events and did not miss too many New York Giants and Boston Bruins games.

Mark exemplified the attributes and intangible qualities that are associated by many with the World War II generation — self-reliant, responsible, diligent, determined, punctual, loyal, frugal, honest and not too judgmental. A quiet man by nature, Mark was a consummate gentleman whose philosophy was: Actions speak louder than words. He just got things done, his deeds spoke for him, and he always gave more than he received, to the end.

Mark is survived by his four children and their spouses: Netti (Jerome Rand), Mark II (Kathleen Oak), Jeffrey (Kathleen Malaney) and Jill (Robert Cain); his grandchildren (who affectionately referred to him as “Pa” and “Poppy”), Kristen Rand Winningham, Jay Rand, Mark Sikora III, Mathew Sikora, Chelsea Sikora, Molly Sikora Dedes, R. Nolan Cain II, Sikora Elizabeth Cain and Sarah Cain Murphey; his sister-in-law Patricia Fitzpatrick Sikora (Kenneth); and many great- and great-great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents; his wife, Betty; and his six brothers: Richard, Harold, Alfred, Fleury, Arthur and Kenneth.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Tax-deductible donations may be made to South Hero Rescue, Inc., P.O. Box 365, South Hero, VT 05486, or to CIDER, 110 Community Rd., P.O. Box 13, South Hero, VT 05486. 
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