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Cartographer, WWII vet from McClure had many stories

Jacob Tierney
| Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, 11:05 p.m.

When Walter Kruckvich was stationed in Italy after World War II, he hoped to visit the famed Italian monk Padre Pio. But the roads to the monk's remote home were too treacherous to travel alone, and Kruckvich could not convince any of his fellow soldiers to accompany him.

“He wanted to go in the worst way to see him, but he couldn't get anyone to go with him,” his daughter Susan Kruckvich said.

He returned to the United States without ever seeing the holy man, until many years later. He loved to tell the story to his family.

“He said (Pio) came to him in his dream, and he said three words to him. He said, ‘Pray the Rosary,' ” his daughter said.

Mr. Kruckvich, a devout Catholic, listened to the advice. He kept a notebook filled with page after page of the people he prayed for.

Walter J. Kruckvich of McClure died Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at Select Specialty Care, Latrobe. He was 90.

He was born Nov. 4, 1926, in Everson to the late Joseph W. and Julia Surniak Kruckvich.

When he was growing up during the Depression, his family sent him to live on a farm with his grandparents. It was there he learned many of the skills that would carry him through the rest of his life.

“He grew up knowing how to garden, how to fish, how to hunt, how to track, how to trap. You name it, he could do it,” his daughter Sandra Brasili said.

After returning home from the Army, Mr. Kruckvich became a cartographer. He worked in Washington, D.C., making maps for the Army Corps of Engineers, and eventually started his own company, General Mapping of Youngwood.

He would travel the country making tax maps of various communities, then come home and share stories of his travels.

“He was interested in everything,” Brasili said.

He enjoyed gardening and especially liked planting trees.

“In his lifetime, he had to have planted hundreds and hundreds of trees, particularly pine trees,” Susan Kruckvich said.

Every winter, he would sell Christmas trees from his home.

Mr. Kruckvich is survived by his wife of 68 years, Esther Lewandowski Kruckvich; four children, Ronald Kruckvich of McClure; Susan Kruckvich of McClure; Cynthia E. Yialouris of New Kensington; and Sandra A. Brasili of Chester, Va.; and two granddaughters.

Prayers of transfer will be said at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Frank Kapr Funeral Home, 417 W. Pittsburgh St., Scottdale, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. in Partner Parish of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Everson. Committal services and interment will follow in St. Joseph Parish Cemetery, Everson, with full military honors accorded by the Southmoreland Veterans Association Honor Guard.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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