Matt Balen, 95, a resident of Waukegan, passed away Saturday, May 15, 2021, after suffering a heart attack. He was just 10 days shy of his 96th birthday. He was born and raised in North Chicago, Illinois, and lived most of his adult life in a home he and his brothers built for Matt and his family in Wadsworth, Illinois.
Matt served his country as a member of the Army during WWII, guarding POWs in Texas before being sent to the Philippines near the end of the war. He retired from the Cyclone Fence division of U.S. Steel after 30 years, then retired again after working 10 more years for the Lake County Highway Dept.
Matt was a member of a large extended family that centered around the Balen siblings of his generation. He always enjoyed the noisy give and take that was a hallmark of the Balen clan, through birth, marriage, and all the friends that love and closeness attracted. Matt always enjoyed working with his brothers on one project or another. He, along with his brothers, helped his brother John build John's home in Waukegan.
He also was a constant companion of his brother Mike as Mike scavenged truckloads of salvaged lumber from Great Lakes Naval Station and repurposed the wood to build barns on property owned by the extended family in Beach Park. Matt and his brothers never saw a bolt, nut, washer, or scrap of lumber that they didn't figure someone might be able to reuse sometime.
Matt was a lifelong Democrat, and was active in local politics, including a run for Lake County Board in the 1970's. He was a member of Croatian Fraternal Union lodge 75 and the local Steelworkers Union retiree group, attending various gatherings and reunions of both as long as his health allowed.
Matt is survived by his son Charles (Kathy) Balen and sister Rosemary (Frank) Ress, as well as many nieces and nephews and their children. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rose, his wife Ann (nee Piasecki) Balen, and his siblings Steve, Martha (Plier), John, Nick, Mike, Jane (Wright), and Mary (Slezak).
Friends and family may visit Bradley Funeral Home, 313 10th Street, North Chicago, Illinois 60064 on Sunday, May 22, from 3-6PM. Interment will follow at a later date at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois.
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