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Carroll man fascinated with Civil War

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Chris Buckley | The Valley Independent
Walter Klorczyk of Carroll Township looks at a photograph of his favorite Civil War personality, Gen. Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in his home.

Walter Klorczyk's email address tells you all you need to know about his passion as a Civil War buff: stonewall1863@comcast.net.

It pays homage to Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederate corps commander whom Gen. Robert E. Lee referred to posthumously as his “right-hand man.” It also recalls the year of the Battle of Gettysburg.

While Klorczyk has visited that battlefield and other Civil war sites often through the years, he has also worked to bring a part of the 18th century conflict to the Valley, hosting the Cal U Civil War Roundtable.

“I've always rooted for the underdog, and the Confederates lost,” said Klorczyk. “And I've always liked Stonewall's philosophy.”

A Carroll Township resident, Klorczyk grew up in Smithton and graduated in 1965 from South Huntingdon High School, where Yough High school is now located.

After high school, Klorczyk earned a certificate degree from electronics technical school Manpower Development.

In 1971, he was hired at the U.S. Steel Irvin Works in Dravosburg. Klorczyk worked initially as an electrician and later in his career as a systems representative. He retired in 2004 after 33 years with the company.

Even in retirement, he worked for close to five years helping his neighbor Don Kurilla's business, JEM Lounge in Fallowfield Township.

A couple of years after he began working for U.S. Steel, Klorczyk often attended practices for the polka band his brother was a guitarist in. Other family members were also musicians in the band. His uncle encouraged Klorczyk to ask one of the other musicians out on a date. That's how he met his wife, Terry.

On Oct. 13, the couple will mark their 35th anniversary.

They have a son, Ted, a network technician for the Charleroi Area School District. He resides in Monongahela. Their daughter, Julie, lives at home and, like her mother, is employed at California University of Pennsylvania.

Klorczyk first became involved in the roundtable in 2004 during a class on the Civil war he took at Westmoreland County Community College. The guest speaker was discussing Gettysburg and was a member of the Greater Greensburg Civil War Roundtable.

Klorczyk attended a meeting of the Greensburg group, along with Mike Watson of Charleroi. Klorczyk is a neighbor of Watson's sister and brother-in-law, who got the two Civil War enthusiasts connected.

Watson formed the roundtable group with the encouragement of California University history professor, Dr. Clarissa Confer. Klorczyk volunteered to help with the formation of the roundtable.

From recruiting local Civil War experts, the roundtable has branched out to attract national speakers. The university provides a stipend to help with speaker expenses. The roundtable also raffles off a book, either written by the speaker or about the speaker's topic, to fund expenses, Klorczyk said.

Klorczyk has also traveled to many Civil War sites. This summer, he and his wife took a vacation trip that included stops in Manassas, Va., Frederick, Md., Bell Grove Historic Plantation in Virginia and Antietam battlefield in Maryland.

But his favorite trip was aboard the Delta Queen, a surprise birthday gift from his wife.

Klorczyk said he is drawn to the patriotism of his Civil War era heroes.

“The people of that era were devoted to their country,” Klorczyk said. “They had more respect for their country.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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