We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Geibel Funeral Home
Stephen Grennek, 94, a long-time resident of New Castle, went home to be with the Lord on Thursday morning at the Hearth & Home Assisted Living facility in Vandalia, Ohio. Stephen, or “PJ” as he was more commonly known by his friends, was born on June 10, 1928, in Butler to the late Samuel and Anna Grennek.
From early on, PJ had a passion for travel and adventure, and this desire would take him everywhere from Great Lakes ore boats to post-war Europe in the late 1940s to the Korean peninsula in the early 50s as a proud member of the 82nd Airborne Division. As a master paratrooper, PJ amassed well over one-hundred jumps during his military career, all from perfectly sound aircraft.
Despite a strong warrior ethos and a lifelong dedication to physical fitness, PJ also had a more artistic side known only to those closest to him. This eventually led him back to Western Pennsylvania where he would attend Slippery Rock Teachers College to pursue a career as a fine arts teacher, which also afforded him the opportunity to serve as an assistant football coach in Moon Township.
The art teacher gig proved to be short-lived, however, and soon PJ was off on another adventure, namely pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh in the field of urban planning. It was during this time that he made the biggest and wisest decision of his life, that is marrying his childhood sweetheart, the former Mary Margaret Mudrick of Lyndora. After bouncing around for a few years, the two landed in New Castle in the mid-60s where they would call home for the next 50+ years.
Not content to ever settle down, PJ took every opportunity to drag his young family all over the country on countless road trips, often made all the more exciting due to everything from broken bones to flat tires to overheated radiators and don’t forget the occasional tropical storm. This boundless energy is what empowered him to regularly whip guys half his age – sometimes two at a time – on the racquetball court at the Buhl Club in Sharon.
Yet, it was precisely this zest for life, this stubbornness, that took over and refused to give up when Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at a relatively young age. Undeterred, PJ would often proclaim that it was “us against the world”; and, if one were a betting man, they would be wise to not put their money on the world. Few people this side of Heaven will ever witness first-hand such selfless and sacrificial love as PJ tended to Mary’s every need year after year right up until her passing in 2012. For better or worse, in sickness and health, PJ embodied love through action.
PJ was preceded in death by his loving wife of 54 years, Mary Margaret Grennek. They were married June 7, 1958, in St. John's Byzantine Catholic Church in Lyndora. Survivors include his son, Stephen P. Grennek and his wife, Stefanie, of Vandalio, Ohio, as well as his son, David S. Grennek and his wife, Kimberly, of Clifton, Virginia. His grandchildren are Mike, John, Billy, Amy Joy and Tony. As one of eleven brothers and sisters, PJ also leaves behind an expansive extended family scattered far and wide.
Friends and family of Stephen Grennek, who died Thursday, June 16, 2022, will be received at the Geibel Funeral Home, 201 E. Cunningham St., Butler from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday. Funeral Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. The Rev. Radko Blichar, Pastor of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Lyndora, will officiate. Interment will follow at North Side Cemetery, Butler.