Allegheny Twp. man had unique talent for dancing, communicating

November 24, 2018

Joseph Gazarik literally swept his future wife off her feet.

“I was out with some girlfriends, and we met at a bar with a dance floor,” Renee Gazarik said. “That was our whole courtship: dinner and dancing.”

In 1974, the heyday of leisure suits and disco, Mr. Gazarik was in the right place at the right time.

“He was a fantastic dancer,” Renee said.

One of the earliest memories Joe Gazarik Jr., 40, of Allegheny Township, has of his dad is on the dance floor.

“Going to any family weddings, he would take my mom to the center of the dance floor, and while everyone was dancing around them, they’d freeze. And on the down-beat, they’d start dancing, and it grabbed everyone’s attention,” he said. “My mom and dad basically lived out the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ ”

Joseph L. Gazarik died Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, of pancreatic cancer. He was 74.

Mr. Gazarik was born June 17, 1944, in Natrona Heights, son of the late Joseph Anthony and Irene (Cieslinski) Gazarik. He graduated from St. Joseph High School in Natrona in 1962, and earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from Youngstown State University.

A few short years after they met on the dance floor, Mr. Gazarik and Renee were married Aug. 7, 1976.

He had a dry sense of humor and had a very easy way of talking with people.

“He was very eloquent and he was a very good public speaker,” his son said.

That served Mr. Gazarik well during his time working as a zoning code enforcement officer for Allegheny Township, as a district manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and as a counselor at a number of funeral homes, as well as with the Catholic Cemeteries Association.

Mr. Gazarik was an amateur radio operator (call sign KC3HYH), a Knight of Columbus and an usher at St. Mary of Czestochowa Catholic Church.

His son said Mr. Gazarik was able to use his skills as a communicator to bring a lot of comfort to people.

“He was very, very good at (funeral counseling),” said Wilma Hronyhez of Plum, who worked with Mr. Gazarik at the Catholic Cemeteries Association. “He showed so much empathy and had a lot of kindness.”

Those communications skills also served him well at family functions.

“I remember going to family reunions where they’d have some sort of auction or white elephant gift party, and they always asked my dad to be the ‘auctioneer,’ because he could do that sort of auctioneer chanting,” Gazarik Jr. said. “You felt like you were in the Chicago cattle market with my dad calling out and pointing to people.”

When he wasn’t cutting a rug, Mr. Gazarik spent a lot of time golfing.

“We went to Manor Valley, Murrysville Golf Club, Three Lakes, we golfed all over,” said Dennis Smith of Plum, who also worked with Mr. Gazarik at the cemetery association.

No stray golf ball was safe around Mr. Gazarik, Smith said.

“I had to pull him back so many times and tell him, ‘Joe, that’s someone’s ball -- you can’t pick that up,’ ” Smith said. “He’s gone in the water and everything.”

It was all part of Mr. Gazarik’s philosophy of life, which he typically summed up with a quote by Padre Pio, according to his son.

″‘Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer,’ ” Gazarik said. “That was the way Dad lived his life.”

Mr. Gazarik is survived by his wife, Marcella Renee Gazarik; his children, Joseph T. Gazarik of Allegheny Township and Rebecca R. Gazarik of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Cicholski-Zidek Funeral Home, 1522 Carlisle St. in Natrona Heights, Harrison, where a prayer service will be held at 1:15 p.m. Saturday. A Mass will follow at 2 p.m. at St. Mary of Czestochowa Catholic Church, 857 Kenneth Ave., New Kensington. Burial will follow at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Lower Burrell.

A memorial dinner celebrating his life will take place immediately after the burial at Hill Crest Country Club, 3411 Leechburg Road, Lower Burrell.

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