Cover photo for John Puhak's Obituary
John Puhak Profile Photo

John Puhak

d. March 29, 2015

John Puhak, formerly of Masury, Ohio, entered eternal rest at 7:00 pm Sunday, March 29, 2015, while a patient in the Sharon Regional Hospital and surrounded by the love of his family following a period of declining health. He was 93.

John was born Tuesday, January 24, 1922 at 6AM at home in Sharon, a son to George and Anna (Dzuricsko) Puhak. He was raised on Baldwin Avenue and had attended Sharon City Schools where he graduated in June of 1941. After graduation, John got a job at Ordinance Plant, a former tin mill in Farrell.

A short time later in October 1942, Uncle Sam called and he was drafted into the Army to serve his country proudly during WWII. In the beginning, John trained at several Army camps. In June of 1943, he was assigned to Iowa State University with several other soldiers to become a Czech interpreter. The training disbanded in early 1944, and he was then sent to Newport News, Virginia. He was assigned to one ship in a convoy of 1000, and 28 days later on April 18, 1944, his ship landed in Naples, Italy. The soldiers were kept in Dairy Farm Replacement Depots until May 13, 1944. John joined the ranks of the “Company F” of the 339th Regimental Combat Team of the Polar Bear Regiment, 85th “Custer” Infantry Division. He participated in the Po River Valley Campaign, fighting alongside and sharing a foxhole with British Troops. The soldiers drove the Nazi’s north through the Italian Alps and eventually out of the country in April of 1945. While serving in the military, John earned the Good Conduct Medal, Sharp Shooter Pistol and Rifle Award, Combat Infantry Badge, American Theater Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal, and the American Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon. He returned to the United States in a wasp aircraft carrier, and was discharged at Fort Meade, Maryland, on December 3, 1945.

Upon his return, John enrolled at the Baltimore Institute of Photography. He worked briefly in the photo department at John Hopkins Hospital, but returned back to Sharon, working at Lesawyer Studios and the Columbia Theater as assistant manager. He then became employed at Westinghouse as an electrician, working there for 35 years. He took several company sponsored courses, and attended ATES in Niles, Ohio, obtaining a two year degree in Industrial Electronics. John retired in 1983, and the plant closed in December of 1984.

John fell in love and became engaged to Mary Kraynak in June of 1947. They eloped by train to Baltimore, where they were married on Tuesday, September 7, 1948, at the historic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first great cathedral constructed in the colonies after the adoption of the Constitution.

Throughout John’s life, he was a devout Catholic. He was a member of Our Lady of Fatima, Farrell, and later joined St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church, Masury, now St. Thomas the Apostle Community, St. Bernadette Catholic Parish.

John was a member of the Masury Knights of Columbus, where he served as Grand Knight from 1973 to 1974, in 1979, and from 1981 to 2010 when the council merged with Vienna.  He was a member of the Fourth Degree Knights, fostering patriotism and encouraging active Catholic citizenship.

While serving in the Knights of Columbus, President John F. Kennedy was campaigning in the Sharon area in 1960. John was very proud to be a part of the entourage that met Kennedy when he arrived. John had helped transport his luggage from the airport. A picture was taken during this visit showing President Kennedy on the steps of the former Shenango Inn with John clearly standing behind him. The picture is keep at the Juniper Village at Shenango Inn, where John had lived for the past three years.

John was fortunate to attend several military reunions for the Polar Bear Association of WWII. The last reunion he attended was in Gettysburg, PA in 2008, with his wife and son Bill. He enjoyed traveling, visiting Canada, Germany, Czechoslovakia, England, the Bahamas, and several states in the union, including Hawaii. He traveled by train, plane, auto, and bus. He enjoyed dancing the polka, especially the Polish variety. He was well known for making homemade sauerkraut for many years, giving many bags away to relatives and acquaintances in time for New Year’s celebrations. He was an avid gardener, and attended the Master’s Gardener Program in Mercer, when he was in his seventies. In addition, he was also a former Assistant Scout Master from 1960 to 1964 with Troop #62, Brookfield. More especially, John was well known for selling tickets for his various club activities.

His survivors include: his bride, Mary; his children, Mark Puhak (Debbie), Overland Park, KS, Pat Puhak (Rosina), Akron, OH, Kenny Puhak (Cece), Brookfield, OH, Bill Puhak (Janet), Hermitage, PA, Donna Kushner (Frank), Paris, OH, and  Mary Ann Green (Ivan), Masury, OH; his thirteen grandchildren, Mandy Thompson (Devon), Alexa Puhak, Samantha Thompson (Bobby), Becky Wilson (Bart), Kenny Puhak, Monica Pryts (Steve), Jessica Boca (Brady), Lisa Puhak, & Joshua Puhak, Veronica & Kimberly Williams (Fiancé Jimmy Shoup), Laura Kushner, & Richard Kushner (Stephanie); his five great-grandchildren, Bobby Thompson, IV, Bart, Bryce & Brennan Wilson, & Lydia Kushner; his four step-grandchildren, Sean & Allison Green, Michelle Black (Rich), and JR Williams; and his two step-great-grandsons, Anthony & Ayden Green.

He was preceded in death by his parents; by his infant brother, Joey; and by his sisters, Mary Adamchik, Betty Gerchak, Anna Karolewski, Margaret Schimes, Dorothy Ernest, & Alice Schimes.

A time of gathering to honor John’s life will be held on Monday, April 6, 2015, from 4-7 PM at Briceland Funeral Service, 379 State Route 7, SE, Brookfield, Ohio 44403, as well as in his church, St. Bernadette, 7800 Locust Street, Masury, Ohio 44438, Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 10-11 AM. A Mass of Christian Burial will immediately follow at 11:00 AM. He will be laid to rest in Brookfield Township Cemetery with military honors.

Expressions of sympathy may be left for his family at

As suggested by his family, memorial contributions can be made to the Knights of Columbus Scholarship Fund of Brookfield High School c/o the funeral home.

Coordination of this tribute for Mr. Puhak will be presented by Daniel Briceland, Owner & Director. (330-509-3135)

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Puhak, please visit our flower store.


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