|The Oravetz, Rebar, Prusak, Kuzio, Herpak, and Kovachik Families of Pennsylvania|
This year our newsletter will be dedicated to the memory of Albert "Puff"
Kovachik, who died last September. He had had several strokes, but was able
to get around with help. He had one final stroke in September, which he
did not survive. Albert and his loving wife, Peg, came to many of our reunions
while he was still able to travel. He will be truly missed by everyone in
the family. It is interesting to note that Albert's military service included
Savo Island in the Pacific during WW II on board the Battleship USS Washington,
when it sank the Japanese Battleship Kirishima. He also served in Korea
One important aspect of Albert's character was his loyalty to family traditions. While he was able, he never failed to pay his respects in person when someone in the family died. Even if he had to turn right around and return home the same day, he felt it was important to be there, especially for the old timers.
We had more than 100 people at the 2001 reunion, the most we've ever had. It was quite impossible to have a lengthy conversation with anyone if you wanted to greet everyone, which I try to do. I know it's unthinkable, but some families have their reunion scheduled for 2 days. We aren't equipped for that.
It was most gratifying to see Alex Oravec, our cousin from the Oravetz side, because he had a stroke a number of years ago and uses a wheel chair. He flew in from Texas to be with his son, Alan, and his family in Delmont, Pennsylvania. Alan and Sandy brought him in their van to Duman Park to be with us. To come that far in his health condition shows what determination is, and makes our excuses about not attending seem so feeble.
The day was beautiful and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I wish I had more time and energy, though, to get the children more acquainted with each other, so they would play together more. Some are shy and need to be included. If anyone has any ideas - help!
I hope this year's reunion is even one-half as successful as last year. Remember: your friends are just as welcome as family members!
At the 2001 reunion the 100 attendees came in from 10 states.
Florida: Frank and Barbara Rebar (Ormond Beach).
Maryland: Duane and Kathy (Rebar) Fleshman; Georgia (Rebar) Stice; Joyce Rebar (Rockville); Jean Hogan (Baltimore), Ed and Mary Rebar (Bowie); Jim and Carolyn Rebar (Columbia); Dawn (Stice) Helt, and children April and Adam; Troy and Linda (Rebar) Snyder (Baltimore); and Robert Stoops.
Michigan: Karen (Rebar) Semik and daughters, Valerie Ann, Leah Kathleen, and Erica Lynn (Memphis); John Rebar and daughters, Heather and Theresa (Clinton Township); Pat (Rebar) Cus-Curson and children Andy, Chris, Cindy, Nicole Cus, and Jeff Curson (Lake Orion); and Stella Rebar (Oxford).
New Jersey: Jerry and Karen (White) Morgan and son Chris (Medford).
New York: Rob and Amy Bungo and children Kaylene and Phillip (Niagara Falls); Alta (Bloom) Johnson (Niagara Falls); and Elva (Bloom) Shaffer (Niagara Falls).
Ohio: Bill and Mary Prusak (North Royalton).
Pennsylvania: Dave and Elsie Rebar (Latrobe); Evelyn and Mark Stoops (Shermansdale); Dennis Stoops (Shermansdale); Mike and Jean Kuzio (Altoona); Michele McCaulley and children Kaitlyn, Zach, Brett, and Maddison (Altoona); John Kuzio and children, Robert, Melissa, Dana and Monica, and granddaughter Gabrielle (R.D. Barnesboro); Dot Polenik (R.D. Clymer); Mike and Sharon (Kuzio) Berkheimer (Altoona); Martha (Petcavage) Miller and children Jacob and Emilie (Dillsburg); David and Marlene (Rebar) Kohute (Ramey); Mary White (Glenshaw); Cody Wolf; Sara Mortimore; Becky, D. J., and Laura Kohute; Bill and Sandy (Kohute) Harchak, and children Missy, Mackenzie, and Zachary; George Kohute (West Decatur); Sara (Rebar) Mohar (Harrisburg); Chris Bungo (West Decatur); Ed Linsenbigler (Pittsburgh); Donna (Linsenbigler) Sivy (Pittsburgh); Ethel (Linsenbigler) Halligan (Pittsburgh); Alan and Sandy Oravec (Delmont); Betty Bungo (Smithmill); Elma Venerick (Clearfield); Nancy Rebar (Indiana); Wayne Rebar (Greensburg); Patty Kirsch (Barnesboro); Betty (Kuzio) Lechene and grandson Zackary, and friend, Mike Berzonsky (Bakerton).
Texas: Alex Oravec (Houston).
Virginia: Tony Pasquale (Centreville).
West Virginia: Dave Rebar, Jr. (Wiley Ford)
Christopher Kus, son of Phil and Pat (Rebar) Kus, is engaged to Beth Drogosch. They plan to be married on May 23, 2003.
Amy Marie Darin, daughter of Robert T. and Shirley J. (Bungo) Darin, and Michael Joseph Stockinger Jr. were married on July 20, 2002, in St. Stephen Catholic Church, Grand Island, New York. An alumna of Grand Island High School, Amy was graduated from the University of Buffalo, where she received a master's degree in architecture. She is a docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright Darwin D. Martin House. Michael is the son of Michael J. and Gail F. Stockinger of Tonawanda, New York. He is a graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Daemen College and is an operations consultant for M&T Bank Corp. The couple planned a honeymoon in St. Lucia.
Tommy Kirsch, son of Tom and Pat (Oravetz) Kirsch, was married in Georgia on June 15th, 2002, to Heidi Wessel, of Pennsylvania. He is still an Army Ranger stationed there. As of this writing, no further information is available.
Jeffrey Thomas Falgout, son of Les and Mary Ann (Oravetz) Falgout, married Candice Lyn Abromeit on December 30, 2000 at Rockland Church in Golden, Colorado. They are living in Littleton, CO; Candice works for the city of Lakewood, CO, as a pre-school teacher, and Jeff works for Jefferson County, CO, as a System Administrator.
Jeannine Falgout, daughter of Les and Mary Ann (Oravetz) Falgout, is engaged and plans a March 22, 2003 wedding in Covington, Louisiana. Her future husband, Daniel Buckner is a police officer on the Hammond, LA police force. Jeannine graduated with her MBA last May from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA. She is an Auditor for the State of Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office and works in Baton Rouge. LA. The couple plans to live in Hammond after their marriage.
No births to announce this year.
Melissa Kuzio, daughter of John and Betty (Bell) Kuzio, graduated in May 2002 from Mt. Aloysius College, Cresson, Pennsylvania. Melissa is now a Physical Therapist Assistant.
Leslie Falgout, daughter of Les and Mary Ann (Oravetz) Falgout, received her Civil Engineering degree in March, 2002 from Louisiana Tech University. She completed her degree in 3 3/4 years and won the Outstanding Civil Engineering Senior award for the southeastern Louisiana area from the American Society of Civil Engineers. She is employed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and works in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sharon (Kuzio) Berkheimer has received her Masters in Education Degree from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. Sharon is an Elementary Teacher at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Altoona, Pa. Sharon and her husband Mike are expecting their first child in September.
Andy Kus, son of Phil and Pat (Rebar) Kus, graduated in June, 2002, from Lake Orion High School, Lake Orion, Michigan. Andy was one of the top 26 students of his graduating class, with a Grade Point Average of 3.90. Andy plans to attend the University of Michigan at Flint; he received an MEAP Merit Award scholarship and a University of Michigan Alumni Scholarship. In high school, Andy's awards/achievements included: Lamp of Learning (4 years), Scholar Athlete (4 years, wrestling), and Varsity award (3 years).
Michele (Kuzio) McCaulley, daughter of Mike and Jean (Parrish) Kuzio, has graduated from the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center School of Nursing. She has recently accepted a position in a Med-Surg unit at Bon Secours Holy Family Hospital in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Mary Pollock, daughter of Jim and Carolyn (Young) Rebar, graduated with Highest Honors on May 11, 2002, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Ceramic Arts from Alfred University, New York. She is currently teaching ceramics at the Arts Center in Corning, New York.
Congratulations to all our graduates this year. We are very proud of all of you and of your many academic achievements.
On June 28, 2002, Andy and Dorothy (Rebar) Polenik celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Married in Twin Rocks, Pennsylvania, on June 28th, 1952, Andy and Dot were owners of the Glory Coal Company in Indiana County. They retired in 1978, splitting their time between their homes in Pennsylvania and Florida until a few years ago, when Andy's health prevented them from further travel to Florida. Congratulations to you both!
Michael J. Burkholtz, 57, of Penn Run, Pennsylvania, died on November 23, 2001, at Indiana Hospital, Indiana, Pennsylvania. Michael was the son of Gus and Matilda ("Tillie") (Kovachik) Burkholtz. He was born on November 8, 1944, in Spangler, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. He had been a nationwide self-employed truck owner and operator for McNaughton Brothers. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Albert John Kovachik, 82, of Zephyrhills, Florida, died September 27, 2001 at 1:30 a.m. at East Pasco Medical Center. He is survived by his wife Margaret Elizabeth; two daughters, Margaret Biggs of Zephyrhills and Mary Ann Rusano of Tampa; a son, Albert Hugh of Licking, Missouri, and ten grandchildren. They are: William Rosano, Rebecca Rosano, Nicholas Rosano, Tony Rosano, Kristina (Howells) Mullholland, Michael Howells, John Kovachik, Jesse Kovachik, Wesley Kovachik, and Maggie Kovachik. Albert was born in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, and moved to Florida from Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1996. He retired as a Chief Petty Officer with the United States Navy. In World War II, he served aboard several vessels including the battleship USS Washington, BB-56. He also served in the Korean conflict and was a General Services Officer in Vietnam for the State Department. He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Zephyrhills; a member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Fleet Reserve Association. A funeral Mass was held on Monday, October 21, 2001 at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Interment followed at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.
With so many contributions this year, it was very difficult to put the information into a meaningful order, so we put the entries in more-or-less random order. We know you will find all the write-ups to be extremely interesting this year.
A1C Lorie Kuzio, daughter of Mike and Jean (Parrish) Kuzio, is currently on temporary duty at Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia. If anyone wants to write to her they may do so to the following address. A1C Lorie Kuzio, 363 EMDG/SGSO2, Unit 70410 - Box 10, APO AE 09882.
Lorie's dad, Mike Kuzio, is currently active with the Altoona Horseshoe Chorus in Altoona. Mike serves as show chairman for the chorus. The Chorus is a local chapter of S.P.B.E.B.S.Q.S.A (Society for the Preservation of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America). Horseshoe Chorus sings at many community events and arts functions. In addition to their annual show in May they also performed with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert. Most recently they were invited to perform the National Anthem before 8,000 fans at Blair County Ballpark as part of the 4th of July festivities. Mike's webpage at: http://webpages.charter.net/myhobby/barbershop.htm will provide information for upcoming events.
Ashley Burkholtz, daughter of Paul and the late Kathryn (McGee) Burkholtz, is recovering from injuries she sustained in a one-car accident on May 31, 2002. She broke both ankles and an arm in the accident. She was 90 minutes away from graduating with her 73 classmates of Penns Manor High School in Heilwood, Pennsylvania. Ashley is Penns Manor's all-time scoring leader in girl's basketball with 1920 points. She was the All-Gazette girls basketball player of the year in her junior and senior years, and was honored as the outstanding female athlete of her class. Ashley plans to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana in the fall. Her mother, Kathryn "Kitcie" Burkholtz, died at home on October 17, 2000, after a battle with breast cancer.
Sandy (Kohute) Harchak and children, Milessa, Mackenzie, and Zachary Harchak are enjoying Defensive Karate classes. Milessa also got a 97.5% academic average for 7th grade, and she also received a 10-year award for tap, ballet, and jazz dancing.
Steve Kohute, son of Stephen Kohute and grandson of Marlene (Rebar) and Dave Kohute, was student of the month in Accounting.
Laura Kohute, daughter of David and Becky Kohute and granddaughter of Marlene (Rebar) and Dave Kohute, graduated from Better Beginning pre-school in 2002.
Christopher Bungo, son of George Kohute, and grandson of Marlene (Rebar) and Dave Kohute, 16, converted to Catholicism at the Easter Vigil this year.
Dave Rebar, son of John and Margaret (Oravetz) Rebar, is recovering from a heart attack which he suffered in May 2002. Dave had a stent inserted in the artery leading to the damaged area, and he returned to Shadyside Hospital on July 26th to have another stent put in. God speed in your recovery, Dave.
Jean Fleshman, daughter of Duane and Kathy (Rebar) Fleshman, began working last year with Integrated Healthcare Auditing and Services, Inc., a Medical Case Management program serving patients with chronic illnesses. Her job is rewarding, yet extremely challenging. Jean is also continuing her education by completing the course requirements for her license in addictions counseling and sign language. Jean and her boyfriend, Robb Drape, are thinking of moving to Carroll County, Maryland, where Jean's parents live.
Karen (Fleshman) Stebner, younger daughter of Duane and Kathy, started a new job last year as a genetic counselor at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Karen and her husband, Mike, are also working very hard at, and are very successful with, building a financial services business together. They recently purchased a home in Carroll County, Maryland, near Karen's parents, making Kathy and Duane very happy, indeed, and they will be even happier when daughter Jean moves there, as well!
Speaking of Kathy (Rebar) Fleshman... Kathy was ill last winter with not just one, but two, bouts of a rare pneumonia. She was forced to miss several months of work because of it, but is back to work as of this writing.
YN3 Joseph R. Darin, son of Robert and Shirley (Bungo) Darin, graduated from the U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, in November 2001. Thereafter he received training in the Yeoman "A" School at the Naval Technical Training Center, Meridan, Mississippi, graduating with honors in January. He is now proudly serving our nation at the Naval Reserve Center, Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he assists in the training and administration of naval reservists. Joey surprised his parents by signing up with the U.S. Navy last summer, leaving for boot camp just two days after the attack on the World Trade Center.
Earl Venerick, Jr., son of Earl ("Tony") and Elma (Rebar) Venerick, retired this year at age 55 from Verizon Telephone in Maryland.
Valerie Semik, daughter of Rick and Karen (Rebar) Semik, was inducted this year into the Honor Society at her high school. She was also a starter player on the Junior Varsity basketball team. Although only 5'3", Valerie was the second highest scorer on her team.
Leah Semik, Valerie's sister, is not to be outdone. She was elected to the Student Council at her school for the third year in a row. Leah is also a budding basketball player.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother Willie, Tim Breyer, son of Bill and Donna (Rebar) Breyer, finished second in the 2002 Michigan Individual State Wrestling Championships. Tim is in the 171 pound wrestling division, and finished 50-4 for the season. In addition to the second-place finish, Tim was the Flint Metro League champion at 171 pounds, the district champion, and he also won his weight class at the Oxford, Michigan, Invitational. Tim's brother Willie holds the Oxford High School record for the number of pins in one season with 35. Tim, who recorded 34 pins this season, is looking forward to his senior year, and he is confident he can beat his brother's record. Good luck, Tim!
Jim Rebar, son of John and Margaret (Oravetz) Rebar, retired on January 3rd, 2002 from the U.S. Government. Jim served in the Government for 33 years, including four years military service in the U.S. Army in California and Germany. His wife, Carolyn, retired from the Government a week before Jim on December 29th, 2001, after 13 years of service. They have moved to Napoleon, Ohio, from Maryland. They opened their restored 1850 home to the public during the Victorian Days Festival in Napoleon in June 2002. Approximately 160 people toured the house and garden.
Norann (Valco) Lustfield, great-granddaughter of Barney and Mary (Kozak) Valko, recently found the marriage record for Barney and Mary in the records of Kosice, Slovakia. Barney's first wife died of tuberculosis after only 1 year of marriage. Norann also found the birth record for their son, Thomas, who is her grandfather. She is still planning to travel to Slovakia sometime in the near future.
The Coalport Mine Explosion,
August 15, 1928
As I was growing up we were often told of the terrible mine explosion in Coalport, PA, where my dad was employed. It always intrigued me, but I could never get enough information to verify exactly where the mine was and when the accident occurred.
My mother's sister, Verna, about 12 years old at the time of the explosion, was at our home for vacation, and she remembers going down to the mine with my mother, holding me in her arms, to find out who was in the mine at the time of the explosion. Mom always told me that Dad (John Rebar) was on the opposite shift and thus escaped the tragedy. Aunt Verna claimed that he was in the mine on that shift and was one of the lucky ones who survived. The truth remains unknown.
One day, while I was telling Marlene (Rebar) Kohute about this mine explosion, lo and behold, she said that her father, Joe Rebar, told his children about it also. He also worked in the mine, and he was on the rescue team. He helped bring out the dead. Marlene graciously offered to go The Clearfield Progress newspaper office in Clearfield, PA, to get the information from their archives, so we know once and for all what happened. The following is the information that Marlene acquired.
Coalport, Pa., Aug. 16 (1928) [edited]
"Thirteen miners were killed at the #3 mine of the Irvona Coal & Coke Co. at Blain City near here. The blast tore workings where 152 other men narrowly escaped with their lives. Company officials said 165 men had gone done with the day shift. Of this number most of the men were well on their way out before the blast let go.
"Of the 14 men who were at work nearly 3 miles from the mine mouth when the blast let go, only one man ... escaped the full force of the explosion and came out alive.
"The fact that the day shift had started out of the mine shortly before the blast averted a greater death toll.
"While no official statement was made as to the cause of the blast, Bureau of Mines men were of the opinion that a gas and dust explosion was responsible."
Of special interest is a supplement to the newspaper article that also appeared in the August 16th edition of the The Clearfield Progress:
"Coalport was a stricken town today. Everybody knows everybody else in these mining towns and the loss of 13 lives is a tragedy felt in every home.
"By 11:15 p.m., eight hours after the explosion, when the first body was brought from the drift entrance, everyone knew the toll exacted, everyone had learned the names of those whose lives were snuffed out in the dark shaft, three miles underground.
"But still the crowd lingered, silently waiting as down in the depths of the pit rescue teams went about their grim duty of returning the blast-torn bodies to the open air which they would never breathe again."
Addendum: In July 2001, when we attended the Chesterfield Reunion (see last year's newsletter), we were talking with some old timers. They told us something very interesting: August 15th is a Holy Day in the Catholic religion (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin). After the explosion, which occurred on August 15th, the Catholic mine employees throughout the area, especially the Italians, refused to work on that day.
(If anyone is interested in the full text of the article, I have copies.)
Our Trip to Alaska, 2002
Alaska--We decide to change from our usual Carribean cruise routine...
The trip we'd planned consisted of: The flight to the ship in Vancouver, a 7 day cruise up the inland passageway, debarkation at Seward for a 6 day land tour, and then the long return flight from Anchorage.
Except for some lost seat assignments in Dallas, the trip began with a tiring but uneventful flight to Canada, and the cruise proved to be a delightful experience with excellent on-board entertainment and food. The ship tied up almost daily at ports along the way, and we were able to get the feel of that new, strange and somewhat hostile environment along with the its history, mainly that of gold mining. There were snow capped mountain ranges along the entire route, and the captain took the ship into several fjords and right up to the face of glaciers where we could watch large chunks of ice falling into the sea as we pondered the effects of global warming on these diminishing masses of ice. However, we saw very little of the wild life we were told to expect. A trip to Seaworld would be more interesting in that regard.
The land trip consisted of a constant itinerary of plane, train, and bus trips between brief overnight stays. At first it was interesting, but then it became just more of the same and very tiring, and then it turned traumatic. We were traveling over a 100 mile stretch of dirt road when we came to a complete washout and had to wait for 3 hours while repairs were affected. We crossed before repairs were fully complete and very nearly lost the bus when it tilted precariously and almost fell into the unfilled portion of the abyss. Shortly afterwards, an intestinal flu bug hit a number of us almost simultaneously; fully half of our group would be infected then and throughout the remainder of the trip. It even hit one of our group later on the homeward flight which turned out to be another ordeal. We were in transit for almost an entire day with delays of all sorts, and were even separated from our traveling companions during the last leg of the flight from Dallas. We arrived in Orlando several hours apart but were fortunate in being able to contact them and to find our travel agent, who was savvy enough to track our flights and to provide for the ride home.
We might have dismissed the whole ordeal as just isolated 'bad luck', but after discussing things with our travel agent and searching the internet, we concluded that:
1. The intestinal bug was not an isolated 'food poisoning case' as we were told but had been experienced by other ships and tour groups and even later groups. It is, apparently, rather routine in Alaska during the spring thaws when viral strains are released into the water systems. We found this to be especially galling because we had been interviewed in Alaska by doctors and nurses who insisted that it could not be viral. Apparently, vested interests in the tourist business would rather sweep those things under the rug!
2. The airlines: we found that the 'lost seat assignments' were due to the combining of two flights and then dropping seat assignments because of overbooking. The mechanical problems were suspect as well. In that ploy, they actually board you and then find a 'sensor problem' which, after two hours, they cannot repair. You are told to deplane while they find you another flight, 3 hours later. The airlines would love to have you believe that these things are due to 'security issues' or even that they are disorganized rather then admit they are simple juggling resources.
(See photo at beginning of newsletter) A combination family reunion and farewell party was held Thursday evening [Date unknown - ed.] at the Mike Rebar residence, Homer City R. D. The affair was the first time in 15 years that all of Mrs. Rebar's six children were at home together. In the front row from left are William Raymond Greenaway, Monroeville; Mrs. and Mrs. Rebar; Mrs. Ellen Eileen Thomas of Marion Center. Back row from left -- Mrs. Wilma Viona Moore, Cabina, W. Va.; Rev. Charles Edward Greenaway, Paris, France; Mrs. Geraldine Elizabeth Locher, Williamstown, N.J., and Melvin Alexander Greenaway, Forest Hills, Pa. Rev. and Mrs. Greenaway, who left Saturday for France, have been missionaries since 1944 and are under the appointment with the foreign missions department of the Assembly of God with international headquarters in Springfield, Mo. (Photo by R. Kowalczyk)
Well, that's it for another year and another newsletter. Please remember to drop us a line next year when you get the reunion invitation, and let us know of any special events that have occurred in your family. We want everyone to feel like they're a part of the family, and we do this by sharing your information with others. You can play a big role in this endeavor.
Dot Polenik and Jim Rebar
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