South Berwick – Carl P. Onken, 78, passed away peacefully Thursday, June 6, 2019 at his home in South Berwick.
Born June 28, 1940 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was the only child of Hermann and Bernice (Pfarr) Onken. Growing up in Tipton, Iowa, Carl was a loving son, devoted scholar, and an avid athlete -- playing football, basketball, and baseball for the Tipton Tigers.
After completing high school in Tipton, Carl went on to graduate from Iowa State University where he also met his future wife, Mary (Haak) Onken. He then joined the Peace Corps in 1968 as a member of the fourth cohort to work in Sierra Leone. He and Mary were wed during Carl’s second year in Sierra Leone and they served together working to help improve the schools in the rural regions of the country. Carl and Mary continued their support of education and youth programs in Sierra Leone throughout their lives. When they returned to the United States, Carl settled first in Manhattan where he completed his MBA before joining Chase Manhattan Bank, working as a Systems Analyst for over 35 years. Carl and Mary settled in Central Valley, NY where they raised three kids and lived in town for more than fifty years before moving to South Berwick, ME this year to be closer to their family.
Carl’s real passion lay in helping to support and develop community. He served on the school board for Monroe-Woodbury, NY for 21 years, the Orange-Ulster BOCES School Board for 29, and the New York State School Board for 12, including 2 as president of the board. He was also one of the founders of the girls’ softball league and the soccer league in Monroe-Woodbury. Long after his three children were grown, he remained devoted to offering his help to youth athletics in his community – for softball, soccer, and track and field.
Carl’s family includes his wife of 54 years Mary (Haak) Onken of South Berwick, ME; his children Alexandra Fallot and husband Andre of Olympia, WA; Christopher Onken and wife Jennifer of Berwick, ME; and Natasha Sikorski-Onken and wife Kerin of Acton, MA; as well as seven grandchildren Alex, Connor, Gus, Nate, Caroline, Aiden, and Liam.
He lived life fully, always appreciating the simple things – from bird watching, to crossword puzzles to a good creme brulee. He was known by all as a wonderful husband and father and a dedicated community-builder. He had a quiet wit and quick intellect, and was always gentle, considerate, and kind. He will be missed. A celebration of Carl’s life will be held in New York in the fall.