EJ Plesko, age 84, of Madison, passed away on October 8, 2013. EJ was born August 7, 1929 in Milwaukee, where he was raised and lived the majority of his life. He is survived by his son; Andrew, daughter; Jennifer (Tim) Richey, grandchildren; Jack and Piper, sister; June Rolf, and many, many, friends. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Janet, in 1987.
EJ was a self-made man, serial entrepreneur, one of life’s greatest optimists and a self- proclaimed real estate “deal- junkie”. He founded his own real estate development and management firm, E. J. Plesko and Associates, Inc.(EJPA), and was involved in several hundred real estate ventures throughout his career. EJPA continues to do business in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and California. For all of those that had the privilege to work or transact business with EJ, it was quickly apparent that commercial real estate was a passion and way of life for E.J., not just simply a job or business. Many partners prospered from EJ’s vision, strategic risk taking and keen eye for opportunities. EJ was actively involved in the business of EJPA to the very end and enjoyed getting into the office as much as possible, even when his health declined. EJPA and its employees were truly another family for EJ. He was a treasured partner, friend, mentor and resource to those he touched throughout his life and career.
EJ was a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin (BBA- Finance 1951, MBA 1952), a member and active alumni of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a lifelong Badger fan and major supporter of the university. EJ moved to Madison in 1991, allowing him to become actively involved in the university. He helped launch the Applied Real Estate Security and Analysis Program as well as establishing and funding the EJ Plesko Real Estate Chair at the UW Business School. He was also involved in numerous other philanthropic ventures in Madison and elsewhere. EJ never forgot his own humble beginnings and emphasized sharing his success with others.
EJ enjoyed and embraced an active lifestyle well before it was popular or prudent to do so. He enjoyed daily walks, cross country skiing, and downhill skiing in Colorado. For many years he was a member of the Milwaukee Athletic Club’s Early Morning Horse’s Ass Club, where he ran and swam before going into the office. EJ enjoyed following all the Wisconsin collegiate and professional teams, with personal highlights of having attended both the Ice Bowl and Super Bowl XLV. Of course, he was never more proud or more excited than to be in attendance at the Rose Bowl in 1994, 1999, and 2000 to see Barry Alvarez take the Badger football program to new heights.
EJ traveled extensively for both business and pleasure, with his greatest highlight being able to take several trips to Slovenia, the birthplace of his parents and home to many distant relatives. EJ thoroughly enjoyed his time up at the Owl’s Nest, the cottage he built in 1968 on the western point of Antigo Island in the middle of Pelican Lake, WI. Many fun, loud and boisterous evenings were spent at the Owl’s Nest out by the fire pit, enjoying sunsets and cocktails with friends and family. EJ also enjoyed and entertained many friends at his lake home in the South Shore Club at Lake Geneva. E.J. was one of the first people in the US to get a car phone in 1985, was always quick to return a call, enjoying conversation with the many friends he had all over the country.
EJ’s Catholic faith was a constant source of comfort and a priority in his life. A Memorial Mass will be held at ST. PETER’S CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5001 Sherman Ave, Madison, WI on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 11a.m. with Father Roger Nilles and Monsignor Charles Schluter presiding. Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON WEST FUNERAL HOME 7435 University Ave, Middleton, WI, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, October 18th 2013. EJ wished to be cremated, and a private family burial will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 5001 Sherman Ave, Madison, WI 53704, St. Vincent De Paul 2033 Fish Hatchery Rd, Madison, WI 53713, Diocese of Madison, 702 S High Point Rd, Madison, WI 53719 or Agrace HospiceCare, Inc. 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711.
We are all sad to see EJ pass, but also smiling as we cue up Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in the background… STOP THE MUSIC! THE BOTTOM LINE IS EJ LIVED TO THE FULLEST, WITH FEW REGRETS, AND NOW’S THE TIME TO HONOR AND CELEBRATE HIS REMARKABLE LIFE!
Funeral & Cremation Care
7435 University Ave.