Woman remembers former POW father after he's killed in crash - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Woman remembers former POW father after he's killed in crash

ROTHSCHILD (WAOW) – A daughter is remembering her father, who was a former prisoner of war, and the life he left behind.

John Diktanas, 87, was killed when he was hit by a car in October.

Marathon County prosecutors say the driver was high on drugs at the time.

Rothschild Police say Diktanas was walking along a road in Rothschild, when the driver ran him over.

Diktanas was walking near the assisted living home he was staying in.

His daughter says her father walked four miles every day. Even after his death, she says she'll always remember how full of life he was, despite several struggles he faced along the way.

"Determined. Very determined to succeed and make it,” said Diktanas' daughter, Irene Goltz.

She says her father was an incredible man.

"I think my dad's story really starts from his beginning. He was young and raised on a farm in Lithuania."

When John Diktanas was just 15 years old, he was captured by German soldiers.

"My dad had a scar on his head from when they had hit him with the back of a gun."

Diktanas was forced to dig trenches for the German army, but he was eventually able to escape into West Germany.

"He told us he couldn't even remember touching ground. He was running as fast as he could and stepping on dead bodies," Goltz recalls a story her father told her. “He crossed the river and just in time because that was right when the wall went up. His life could have been so different."

With help from a priest, Diktanas eventually came to the United States.

“I think it was about survival," said Goltz. "I don't think they had time to think about it. I think those kinds of thoughts were way deep back in their minds."

He only had one dollar to his name and started his life all over again in Chicago, where he would meet his wife.

"Once they got married, they decided they didn't want to live in a city to raise children in the city," Goltz told Newsline 9.

In 1959, the pair moved from Chicago to the small community of Crivitz in Marinette County. There, he started a family farm of his own and the couple started a family.

His daughter says throughout time, he never lost his work ethic, maintaining multiple jobs in addition to the farm.

"He worked as a welder for the first five, maybe ten years and then after that got a school bus route in Crivitz and did that to supplement his income until he was finally make it on the farm."

He would live and work on that farm in Crivitz for 53 years. After his wife passed away, and his health started to fade, he moved to Rothschild to be with his daughter. But she says he never stopped walking.

"My dad walked four miles a day, every day, no matter what the weather was like."

And he was on one of those daily walks when he died. Goltz says it wasn't long before her father's death that the family was struck with another tragedy.

"Getting that call when he had that accident was just devastating to us. Eighteen days earlier, my sister passed away from cancer. Between her and my dad they were my two closest people in the world," Goltz said.

Despite his death, Diktanas' daughter says looking back, he lived a full life, filled with struggles, joys, heartaches and memories that won't soon be forgotten.

Diktanas left behind three children , 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, with another on the way. His brother, Joseph still lives in Lithuania.

The man Rothschild Police say was the driver was charged in this case just this Tuesday.

Marathon County prosecutors say Evan Mooney was high on drugs at the time of the crash. He does not have an attorney listed and is in jail on a $30,000 bond.

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