|Birth: ||Oct. 2, 1920|
|Death: ||Aug. 24, 2005|
My paternal grandpap. He was the son of Ján Mormák (John Mormack) and Anna Marie Vargovich Mormack. Like many Slovakian immigrants in the area, his father worked in the coal mines, and because his parents were married before his father had become a citizen, his native-born mother temporarily lost her American citizenship. Also like many Slovakian immigrants in the area, his family used their house as a boarding house for other Slovakian immigrants for awhile. His siblings were John, Jr., Anna Marie (who went by Marie), Helen, and Margaret. Although he was born in America, his first language was Slovakian, and he didn't speak any English until the age of eight, when it was decided by his teacher and his family that they'd stop speaking Slovakian to him until he'd mastered English through immersion. As a young man during the Great Depression, he worked with the local Civilian Conservation Corps and sent much of the salary back home to help his family out financially. He also served in the Army twice, first in the European Theatre in World War II and again during the Korean War, when he was the commanding officer among a bunch of younger guys who were barely more than kids. His time in the service meant a lot to him, and he was a member of Post 982 of the American Legion in Unity Township, PA. One of the more interesting souvenirs he brought back from his Army days was a large radio he found in Germany at the end of World War II, with Nazi emblems on it. Though it was very heavy, he carried it all around Europe with him until he got home, since he was afraid that it might get stolen or lost in the mail. After getting honorably discharged, he began working for Teledyne Vasco in Latrobe, a job he held for 26 years until his retirement in 1985.
In his spare time he enjoyed hunting, tending to his large garden, mowing the lawn, carving things, and watching baseball, football, and hockey games, or listening to them on the radio. Being from an area near Pittsburgh, he was a huge fan of the Pirates, the Steelers, and the Penguins, and would often coach them from his airchair, or yell and curse at them (often in Slovakian) when they messed up. The young priest who gave my grandfather's funeral Mass said that now he's coaching his beloved sports teams from the very advantageous position of the sky. He also enjoyed watching classic films, particularly war movies and Westerns, and also enjoyed the classic comedians from when he was a younger man. One incident I have never forgotten happened when I was a highschool junior and my family were living in my grandparents' house, in what was a very stressful depressing year for everyone. The only person who understood why I got so much joy out of watching Laurel and Hardy on Saturday mornings was my grandpap, who cheered me up by saying that when he was a boy, he had regularly gone to see the Three Stooges at the movies and had loved them so much he'd be laughing before he even got to the theatre. Though he never went to college, he was a big reader, and in particular loved reading Westerns, and had such a glut of them that there were entire bagfuls of them that he hadn't got around to reading before his death. He also kept his mind sharp by doing lots of crossword puzzles and watching the History Channel.
In 1947, when he was 26, he met Bertha Violet Wetmore, who was seven years his junior, at the Derry Township School Fair. She had gone there with his sister Helen. At the time my grandfather had been out of his first stint in the Army for awhile and was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad on the tracks. On his first date with Bertha, they went out to the movies and then went out to eat. The two dated for six years, even through his being called back into service and being so far away in Korea, which was a big strain on my grandmother. They got engaged on Christmas of 1952, but since one of his friends had told him that an engagement ring did not constitute a Christmas present, he got my grandmother a pair of sturdy long-lasting rubber boats with a sheepskin lining for her official Christmas present. They were married on 14 November 1953 at Holy Family Church, my grandmother's lifelong church and the church my grandfather subsequently became a member of too. After the wedding ceremony, they celebrated with a reception at Sundry's, the same restaurant where they'd gotten engaged. In spite of it being a very cold day with snow flurries, the day went very well and everyone was happy. Their first house after getting married was an apartment where they lived for the next 13 years, before moving to a house they built themselves. Money was tight for them in those days, so they didn't have a honeymoon or even a car, but they did spend the money they had on beautifying their apartment and making it into a real home with nice furniture. Before he began working at Teledyne Vasco in 1959 and after getting out of the service for the second time, my grandfather went back to working on the Pennsylvania Railroad. They had two children, Paul, Jr. (my father) and Marianna.
In addition to serving his country twice, my grandfather also got great joy out of serving other people, making sure they were happy and their needs were met before he would think of himself and his own needs. Even on my last visit to him, shortly before he passed away, he was, without even being asked, washing off grapes for me and putting them in a bowl, and telling me that there was pop downstairs in the other fridge if I wanted any. He didn't lose any of his spark as he got older, and was still very opinionated about things on the news, political developments, and the outcome of sports matches. He also kept tending his garden, mowing the lawn, and taking care of the house long after he retired. When he did his share of the weekly house-cleaning on Saturday afternoons, he would always play polka music on the radio loudly, even knowing that sort of music drove one of his dogs crazy. And though he could be cantankerous and fiery, that was a small part of his personality. One incident illustrating this is the time I accidentally turned on one of his lawnmowers when I was about four years old and ran away as it started out of the shed and down the hill in the backyard to the woods, which was located over a highway. He had to run after it so it wouldn't start barreling down through the woods, but I found out years later from my grandmother that he wanted me to know that he wasn't mad at all over it, when many another grandfather might have been furious. She also said he often laughed about it. My grandpap was also the one who got me, at the age of eleven, to venture back onto the tilt-a-while after having sworn it off years earlier because I'd gotten rather sick on it after one time. The tilt-a-while became my favorite amusement park ride because of the little trick he showed me, pressing yourself firmly into one of the corners of the car instead of sitting in the center where the gravity will be more likely to make you sick. Overall, he was happy with what life gave him, proud of his family, content with his station in life, not asking for or wanting anything more than he'd already been blessed with.
Saint Marys Cemetery
Created by: Carrie-Anne
Record added: Aug 24, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21128356