KINSMAN — Paul “Pappy” Vitko Sr., age 96, of Kinsman, died peacefully at home on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, surrounded by family.
He was born June 15, 1925, in Youngstown, a son of Andro Vitko Sr. and Agnes Franko Vitko.
A lifetime area resident, Pappy grew up on his family’s farm in New Springfield. He led an eventful and full life, living through many historic milestones.
Pappy proudly served in the 307th infantry regiment, 77th division of the U.S. Army from October 1943 until January 1946 as a staff sergeant and squad leader. He was nicknamed “Babe” by the older servicemen as he was just 18 years old. He served in World War II in the South Pacific islands of Guam, the Philippines, Ryukyus, Ie Shima, and Okinawa where he earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart with cluster. He also served in the Korean War from October 1950 until July 1951 having been in Japan as staff sergeant training troops. One of his favorite pastimes was reminiscing and telling stories of the wars to his grandchildren.
He retired from Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. after 40 years; and he also owned and operated a small family farm for most of his life.
Pappy was a member of the Kinsman United Methodist Church and loved playing baseball with other parishioners in his younger days.
Pappy enjoyed his many trips to casinos, playing Pinochle, watching old Western movies, and listening to Hank Williams. He liked to fish and camp with his family and having bonfires, and loved his family vacations to the beach where he would metal detect and collect shells. Pappy enjoyed playing and watching sports, especially Cleveland and Cincinnati football and baseball.
He married Helen Kulewsky Vitko on Jan. 22, 1949, and she preceded him in death on Nov. 18, 1990. He is also preceded in death by his parents; son-in-law, Bryan Unger; granddaughter, Pamela Sue Vitko; and five brothers, Andy Vitko, Steve Vitko, Peter Vitko, John Vitko and Frank Vitko.
He is survived by two sons, Paul (Janet) Vitko Jr. and Ed (Marilyn) Vitko Sr.; four daughters, Polli (Bob) Cole, Laurie Vitko, Penni (John) Rohrabaugh and Mary Unger; 14 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Private services will be held for the family.
Burial of cremated remains will take place in Kinsman Cemetery.
Baumgardner Funeral & Cremation Service, Kinsman, handled arrangements. Those wishing to share a fond memory or condolence may visit www.baumgardnerfuneralhomes.com.