In 1933, when Art was six years old, the family moved west to Vay, Idaho for a short time before settling on a former homestead on the north side of the Clark Fork River, across from Heron, Montana.
Art grew up there with his siblings, twins Loren and Lois, twins Julian and Jerry, and youngest sister, Marjorie. They attended River Echo School, where they all finished the 8th grade, and then attended Noxon High School. In 1945, Art graduated in a class of four.
Upon graduation, he joined the US Army, and was honorably discharged in 1947.
He was employed by the USFS on the Blister rust team 1943, and was a USFS summer employee in 1948 until August, when he logged with Bruce Crabtree. In 1949, he resumed working for the USFS.
He met the love of his life and partner forever, Mona Leeson. They married on August 31, 1949.
While Art was courting Mona he leased The Hereford Service Station, near Noxon on Highway 200. Following their honeymoon, it was their home.
The couple moved to Sandpoint, Idaho the spring of 1950, where Art cleared land for Bruce Crabtree. That fall they returned to Noxon where Art was a sawyer for Strawberry Bartholomew.
In 1951-52, he worked on Cabinet Gorge Dam construction as a steam cleaner operator and machinist's helper.
He built his family home on five acres along Highway 200 in 1953, 4 ½ miles west of Noxon.
He made cedar posts and logged until 1954, when he accepted a highway maintenance position with Montana State Highway Department, Noxon Division. Before he retired in 1979 Art was foreman for about 5 ½ years.
He once built a truck by combining three different trucks into one. A Dodge, a Chevy and an International. Naming it his Dodgechevint, it became his all-around get-it-done truck that he drove everywhere: To and from work, into the mountains to get firewood, go hunting, and to plow snow for himself and others. It is now part of Bobby Cluzen's collection of Noxon antiques.
Art served on the Noxon School board, and was a Noxon Senior Citizen's board member.
He and Mona were members of Spokane Treasure Hunters Club for several years. The couple loved dancing and country music, and square dancing.
For 30 years they thoroughly enjoyed camaraderie, dancing, and traveling with a large group of fiddlers, musicians and dancers like themselves, dubbed "Our Group". The friends, who became like family, gathered in their RVs from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, Canada, at every opportunity.
Art was a carpenter, mechanic and machinist, He could repair almost anything. He also built a dump truck and a number of trailers. In addition to the family home, he built six other buildings to serve special purposes on his five acres.
In addition to gardening in raised cement beds he made, after surviving a major heart attack in 1987, he planted an orchard and enjoyed fresh apples, pears and
Italian Prunes. However, squirrels always harvested his hazel nuts just before they ripened!
Art was an avid fisherman and loved traveling. After raising their three children, he and Mona enjoyed all 50 states, and drove more than 200,000 miles in their recreational vehicles.
In 1998, after attending a PRIME event in Oregon, which is a gathering of men and women who create miniature gasoline-powered engines of all kinds, Art began creating miniature gasoline engines from scrap metal.
He and Mona moved to Rockford, Washington in 2005, and in January 2014, he began turning hardwoods into beautiful bowls, goblets, plates, jewelry boxes, and anything a piece of wood suggested.
After moving to Broadway Court Estates in Spokane Valley on September 30, 2014, he soon set up shop in garage #11. It quickly became the "go to place" for other residents, who enjoyed many hours with Art. He had a great sense of humor and loved a good prank. Each year, he also donated a number of his beautiful hand-crafted items to the Christmas Bazaar.
Of all his many accomplishments, the most important was the love he gave his family. He was a loving caring husband and father and a true friend to many. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by his wife, Mona, son Gary (Sherrie) Vanek, daughter Annette (Wayne) Hill, daughter-in-law Vickie Vanek. Sister Margie (Joe) Gondek, and brother Loren Vanek. Grandchildren Amie Newman, Pepper Dalke, Aric Vanek and Tyler Vanek; Ray, Jason and Travis Hill; Mike, Roy and Valerie Vanek; eighteen biological great-grandchildren and four through marriages.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Jerry and Julian Vanek, Sister Lois Householder and his youngest son, Stephen Vanek.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 31 at Noxon Cemetery. There will be a celebration of life gathering at Noxon Fire Hall immediately following.