Not many people can say they completed their bucket list before turning 35. St. Paul Campus plumber foreman Don Filiowich is one of the rare ones who can.
“Starting when I was nine years old, my dad took the family to Florida every winter,” remembered Filiowich. “I met people from all over the country, saw things I wanted to do and took the opportunity to do them.”
So, what did he cross off his bucket list? Well, there’s hundreds of sky dives, surfing the North Shore of Hawaii, the Kentucky Derby, World Series, Daytona 500, Indy 500, Stanley Cup Finals, hiking in the rain forest, climbing the Swiss Alps, spear fishing, scuba diving and off-shore power boating.
If there’s one obvious omission on Filiowich’s list, it has to be the Super Bowl. While he admits it’s something he’d like to see, he’s never been in the right place at the right time. He was out of town when the Super Bowl XXVI was played in Minneapolis in 1992. Hopefully he’ll get a second chance and the game will return to the new Vikings stadium due to open in 2016.
A graduate of St. Paul Central High School and St. Paul Technical College, Filiowich worked out of state for a few years in his mid-20’s before
returning home at 27. He had been checking things off his bucket list along the way, and was considering a move to Bora Bora when his father, John, a plumber at the U since 1959, recommended he look for work there.
What began as a temporary job in 1985, led to more than half a century of Filiowich plumbers at the U. Filiowich’s desk in the St. Paul Facilities Management building sits about 20 feet from where is dad’s used to be.
“I think that I took this job a little bit more serious because it was my dad’s job,” said Filiowich. “He taught me the University’s mission statement and that our work supports teaching, research and outreach by keeping the campus running without disruptions. That’s how I learned and it gets carried on.”
By the time he was 35, Filiowich was married with two kids, a station wagon and a completed bucket list. Now, with nearly 30 years of service at the U, he’s ready to help his 21-year-old son Charlie and 23-year-old daughter Emily start checking things off their lists. Emily is currently in the midst of a world tour, during which she has visited 22 countries in two months.
“I take them wherever I can,” said Filiowich. “I just hope they’re cautious and use there heads if they choose do the things I did, like skydiving.”
Maybe Charlie and Emily can help Don cross the Super Bowl off his list if it returns to Minnesota in the future.