Helmut Alfred Walter Borkowski was born one of nine children to Emil Borkowski and Auguste Yanke of East Prussia in Grintahl near Zieleniec, province of Czarnkoro, Poland, the land which the German-born Catherine The Great, Czarine of Pruissa, called Prussia.
When WWII broke out, Prussia went back to the Poland, but all three, Poland, Russia and Germany fought to control the country. Any males of teenage years and older were quickly gathered, shot as `enemies` by the Polish, shipped to work camps in Siberia by the Soviets, or forced into German Army, depending on which country rounded them up. Auguste Borkowski didn’t want her boys taken for soldiers and hid them as long as she could, but all of them were eventually taken to fight Russia. The rest of the families fled their homes with only what they could take on their backs to Germany, the land of their heritage, to escape the slaughter of the war. They lost their farm and everything they’d owned in Poland.
Helmut became a tanker on the Russian line. He was wounded twice fighting on the Russian Front; the second time, a rocket that blasted his tank so badly that only being able to roll in the snow saved his life from the fire that enveloped him. He was sent to a hospital in Austria where the advanced trained doctors repeatedly peeled the burnt scabs off his face and hands to save him from the ugly ravages of 3rd degree burns. His ears were burnt off, but that was a small price to pay for saving his life. But, while in the hospital, the WWII ended and all the patients were collected by the Americans and taken to a termination prison camp where Helmut’s only help for his burns were the Negro guards who gave him medicine and gauze for his burns. Helmut remembers that every blade of grass was plucked out of the ground in the desperation hunger for food. After seven months there, all the surviving prisoners were released and allowed to go to their homes. Helmut’s home was now under Russian control, so he decided to stay where he was and told the officials that he lived in the community where the camp was. With only the cloths on his back and a rolled blanket under his arm, he wandered until he found Dauchner farm where for rebuilding the farm and helping with the farm work, he worked for his room and board.
He continually sent letters to the Red Cross to locate his mother and sisters. After some confusion, he did find them in Titling. He joined them and began working for building contractors as an apprentice, working his way up to a builder on his own. He married Annie Dauchner. They had two daughters, Franciska and Gabrielle. In 1955 he found a sponsor (Wolfmueller) for immigration to the United States and they came to Kerrville, Texas. Here they had two more children: Helmut George and Mary Ann. Helmut began work on the Edgers Ranch, the Circle E Ranch for a dollar an hour from sunup to sundown, and adding work for others in construction until he found an opening at the Kerrville State Hospital where he worked 28 years and ended up as a supervisor (the best they had). He kidded one supervisor, when questioned how the ceiling tiled stayed up, he said, “shy hooks” hold them up. Helmut was the expert builder and did everything from tile, ceramic, wood construction, roofing, sidewalks, water tank painting, aviaries, and their beautiful gazebo. When a job was too complicated, or hard, the order was, “Give it to Helmut”. Many homes throughout Kerrville have had additions done on their home, rockwork, roofing, kitchen cabinets, bar-b-que rock grills, etc. by Helmut. Whatever he built was solid and lasted.
When Helmut retired from the State Hospital he married Lillian Dorothy Cosgrove, and they have spent their Senior Years building a special home that used both of their talents. Dottie has been an artist and interior designer of her own, while she selected the interior material, Helmut built their home from foundation up in the sturdy German fashion. Their home has been the gathering place of family and Dottie’s singing gals. They’ve always been proud of their home. It has been Helmut’s crowning achievement since he immigrated to the United States. He worked hard in all he did; it simply was in his German heritage. The family has been fascinated by his history and how hard it was for him as an immigrant to this country. He did not know but two words of English when he came: “Yes” and “OK”. He learned to listen well and carefully. His life was hard but full. He was wise and compassionate. He was the best husband father and grandfather.
Helmut is survived by Dottie Cosgrove Borkowski, his wife; his children: Franceska Schmiz, Gabrielle McCarty, George H. Borkowski and Maryann Conroy; sons-in-law: Tim McCarty and Mike Conroy; grandchildren: Monica and her husband Eric Gutierrez, Travis McCarty and his wife, Kendra, Goeffrey Borkowski and his wife, Courtney, Cristopher Borkowski and his wife, Stefanie, Yvette Schmiz and Kevin McCarty; and two great grandsons: Kallen Helmut Borkowski and Eric Joshua Gutierrez, and ex-wife, Annie Dachner Borkowski. Helmut and his wife Dottie, live in Dennard, Ark., which he says reminds him of his beloved Germany. Helmut has gone Home to be with our Father and was never afraid.
Graveside service and burial were 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at the Dennard Cemetery with Pastor Tommy Jolly officiating. Arrangements are under the care and direction of Roller-McNutt Funeral Home of Clinton, Ark. Online guest book: www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.