Local WWII veteran dies

Stanley Wojtusik, of Torresdale, died in his home on Friday. Wojtusik was a prisoner of war during World War II. He was the past national president of the Battle of the Bulge Veterans and was knighted by Belgium and Luxembourg for leading efforts to build the Battle of the Bulge Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. TIMES FILE PHOTO

World War II veteran and Torresdale resident Sir Stanley Wojtusik, a man knighted by monarchs in Belgium and Luxembourg for his tireless efforts to memorialize the Battle of the Bulge, died at his home on Friday. He was 90.

Wojtusik, a South Philadelphia native and Torresdale resident for the last 50 years, was serving with the U.S. Army 106th Infantry Division on Germany’s western frontier in December 1944 when the Nazis launched a desperate all-out offensive that would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. Although surrounded and outnumbered, Wojtusik’s unit held out for a day before it was forced to surrender. Wojtusik was among 6,000 American soldiers taken prisoner.

He spent the rest of the war in a series of prisoner camps. Author Kurt Vonnegut, who also served in the 106th and was taken prisoner, later recounted those experiences in Slaughterhouse-Five.

Wojtusik went on to serve two tenures as national president of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and led efforts to build the Battle of the Bulge Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, as well as about a dozen additional memorials across the United States, including the International Monument at Valley Forge Military Academy and College.

Wojtusik was preceded in death by his wife Agatha Ruth. He had five children, 10 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Viewings are scheduled for Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. at Burns Funeral Home, 9708 Frankford Ave. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Katherine of Siena Church, 9700 Frankford Ave., at 10 a.m. Thursday. The family asks that contributions in Wojtusik’s memory be made to Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, PO Box 27430, Phila., PA 19118. ••