On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, beloved husband of Phyllis (Chrzanowski) Black; loving father of Douglas (Tina), Robert and William (Kimberly) Black; brother of Sandra (late Pete) Vanags; proud grandfather of Julia, Mia, Jacob, Zachary, Sydney and Riley.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the SZAFRANSKI-EBERLEIN FUNERAL HOME, INC., where family and friends will be received on Friday 2-4 and 6-8 at 101 Third Street, Carnegie. Mass of Christian Burial in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Masks are required for visitation and also for Bob’s Mass.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Michael J. Fox foundation, P.O. Box 5014 Hagerstown, Maryland 21741.
On behalf of my family thank you all for being here to celebrate the life of my father. Many of you knew him as a gentleman, and a good loving father willing to do anything for his family. He was a selfless guy always wanting to help and do whatever he could to make someone’s life better. Those are the obvious things. Anyone who knew him would agree that he practiced what he preached and was a really good human being.
Now for some things you may not have known. He was in the Navy, as you can see from the flag draped over his casket. He was a yeoman on the USS Diamondhead, an ammunition ship. He used to tell me that he would always be so seasick. Anytime he discussed the navy, he would explain that back then, there were not huge cranes lifting items from ship to ship. They had cargo nets to take things up and down. His stories would start with him laughing as he marveled at swells of waves in between ships and how sick he would get. He’d always laugh and ask himself why he joined the navy. It’s probably the reason my parents never went on a cruise, the good ship lollipop was enough for him
He started working as a clerk and the Pennsylvania & Lake Erie Railroad. He was a dedicated employee of several banks starting with Equibank, transitioning to Integra, then National City and finally, PNC. Not exactly a career banker, but talk about dedication, he was always at least an hour early for work and always had great reviews. He became the focal point for office birthday celebrations with his affinity for cakes, especially Bethel Bakery.
My father was also a teacher. He taught CCD to 7th-8th and 9th graders preparing to be confirmed. He was also president of the PTG at my grade school (St. Ignatius). He even taught physical education to us for a year when he was in between jobs. All these things were taken on to offset the cost of tuition for his 3 kids. While we did not have every new toy or game system, my dad always provided for his family regardless of what he did. We always had baseball cleats, batting gloves and a glove for baseball season.
That brings me to sports. He was a huge sports fan. Ok we all know he didn’t know anything about sports, but he learned a lot from watching his kids and grandkids. He knew baseball the best because we all played it for so long. He watched us play baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey and even tennis, I think. He would also look out the window when my brothers and I would pay football in the back yard “Kill the man” is what we called it then….(because he was afraid we would get hurt playing in a league). One year my baseball team did well in all star tournaments. After we won a tournament, we celebrated at Carnegie Park with little Caesars pizza and soda. My dad was never a pizza guy and didn’t really know the coaches well. There he was, he was there for me watching me celebrate. Mr. Donnelly was there, he was my coach. I was oblivious to what it took to do something like that. Having been a coach myself, coordinating schedules, practices, picnics myself asking for monetary donations and so on….my dad never missed it and always made sure we were included.
The love of his kids extended exponentially to his grandkids. Nothing made him happier than having grandkids. They were the sparkle in his eyes. He never missed a concert, recital, baseball game, deck hockey game, basketball game or volleyball game that he could attend.
He would do anything to make his grandkids smile. When Jacob was playing for the championship in baseball, after an undefeated season, we lost the final. We lost it really bad, I think it was like 13-4. None of our best players had a great game and it showed. After the game, he said, “I don’t like that other team, I think they cheated.” It was silly to say because they were kids too. He was just trying to make us feel better about losing. Same thing in deck hockey, we lost the final one season and he said, “we deserved to win, just because I like our team better.” Again, anything to make us feel better, anything for his grandkids. I know for a fact he would eat food he did not like just to make sure someone didn’t feel bad after having cooked for him. He would laugh at jokes, so you felt like you were funny. I think he just genuinely liked to make people feel good.
Some of his favorite things….
• His entire family from his wife of almost 49 years his kids, grandkids, in-laws, cousins and so on…I remember my first communion party. He was at the table with all his cousins, and his side of the family. They probably should have been at 3 banquet tables but there they were all squished together like sardines at one table.
• He loved cake and pie. Had to be my mom’s crust, it is the best.
• He loved angel hair pasta because it was easier to overcook, he didn’t like it el dente, had to be almost mushy.
• Like his father before him, my dad always had a full dance card. Every wedding family and friends would line up to dance with him. I think it skipped a generation with my brothers and I.
• He loved when we would cook out on the grill but not for the steaks (which had to be extra well done. He loved my mom’s potato salad and that’s why we had it at almost every gathering. That and his own personal famous Baked Beans. There had to be like cups and cups of sugar and molasses in there.
• He loved how great of a baker my mom is. I don’t think there was a cookie she made that he wouldn’t eat. Even if he didn’t like them, they were cookies and he would eat them.
• He thoroughly disliked turkey at thanksgiving and would rather have 3 plates of stuffing, I am the same way.
• He liked going to church, he would even pretend to play the organ on our legs during mass.
• Most importantly, he loved life. I am sure he many reasons to be bummed out, disappointed, stressed and so on. He would just keep going. He would pray and leave it all up to God.
As I wrote this out, I realized how much we learned from our dad. He taught my brothers and I so much. Not the typical things like fixing something, or changing engine oil, or helping with homework. As I saw my older brother running around frantically at my mom’s house setting things up for dinner, trying to make sure everything was set….my dad taught us that. My younger brother Bill took on the brunt of the caretaking, shopping and home maintenance for my mom and dad. That’s something my dad would have done. He couldn’t change an air filter in a car but give him some bleach and you’ll never see a cleaner bathroom, we got that from him.
He taught us to give, even when you have nothing to give. He taught us to try hard. If we were struggling in a class because it was hard, he would encourage us. If we were slacking off in school, he would be hard on us for our own good. He taught us to always do for others no matter what. He taught us to be kind to strangers because you just don’t know what their struggles are. Above all, he was extremely close to his sister. Besides my mom, there was nobody closer to him than her and as I have learned myself the past year, there is absolutely NO substitute for family. My dad taught us that too.
I have no words of wisdom to take away the pain of losing him. But hopefully some of these memories have brought a smile to your face. He would always do anything to take away the pain of losing a game or cheering us up when we were down. I hope these memories helped put a smile on your face, that’s what he would have wanted, and I’d like to think he is smiling as I read this, just as he always was.