John Joseph Pitonyak, 93, died Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at Saint Mary’s Home East in Erie PA. He was born October 17, 1924 on the family farm in Bitumen PA, son of the late Joseph and Eva (Pitonyak) Pitonyak. He was very proud of his Slovak heritage.
A veteran of World War II, John enlisted in April 1943 in the U.S. Army and was sent to Europe. He went ashore at Normandy on Utah Beach, Sugar Red Sector, near St. Mere Eglis, on D-Day plus 33. He was proud to have served with General Patton’s Third Army, in the Fifth Infantry Division or “Red Diamonds”, as a telephone operator and field lineman. He fought in France and Luxembourg through January 1945, when he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge for which he received a Purple Heart. He was also awarded the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon with 5 bronze battle stars and the Good Conduct Medal. He was discharged in October 1945, not yet 21 years old.
On August 4, 1951, he married Fay Marie Jordan, who survives him. They made their home in Erie, where John built the house in which he and Fay raised their four children and continued to reside through the time of his death.
John was a jack-of-all-trades, but his primary occupations were carpenter, welder and sheet-metal man. He retired from Eriez Magnetics in 1986.
He was a member of Saint James parish, the American Legion Carl Neff Post #571, and the Eriez Magnetics Retirees Club. He was acknowledged by the Erie Blood Bank for the donation of five gallons of blood. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, playing baseball and horseshoes, gardening, camping and spending time at his childhood home in Bitumen. He wrote two memoirs for his children: the story of his childhood and the story of his Army days. He played guitar and harmonica, and enjoyed jamming with his family well into old age.
John was above all a generous and loving family man, always helping his relatives. He built and remodeled houses, garages, and camps for his family. He traveled around Pennsylvania, visiting siblings, nieces and nephews, keeping everyone connected.
John was preceded in death by his parents; by his brothers Joseph (Nellie), Tony (Shirley), and Paul (Jean) Pitonyak; by his sisters Rose (Stephen) Bendick, Julia Pitonyak, Evelyn (Irvin) Williams, and Margaret Pitonyak.
Left to cherish John’s memory are his beloved wife Fay; daughters Rosemary (George) Nicosia and Jane (Richard) Hinman, both of Erie; sons Daniel (Brenda) Pitonyak of Bloomsburg and Steven (Christine) Pitonyak of Erie; his brother Andrew (Maxine) Pitonyak of Erie; grandchildren David, Shannon, James, Megan, Katherine, Richard, Michael, Matthew, Lindsay, Nathan, Lee, Emily, Wil and Mark; and by his many great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He loved and enjoyed them all.
John’s family is grateful to the staff of Saint Mary’s Adult Day Services, and the staff of Saint Mary’s Unit D, for their loving care in his final months.
Friends may call on Tuesday, June 26 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Edder Funeral Home Inc., 309 Main St. East, Girard, and are invited to attend the Funeral Mass at St. James Catholic Church, 2635 Buffalo Rd., Erie, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 27.
Burial with full military honors will be at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Bitumen, PA on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 1 p.m.
Donations may be made to the Immaculate Conception Shrine of Bitumen, c/o Anna Knauff, 24 S. Ransdorf Ave., North Bend, PA 17760; or to Saint James School Scholarship Fund, care of the family.