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Murrysville nuclear engineer worked hard, rocked hard

Brian Bowling
| Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

A nuclear engineer with a penchant for rock and blues, Robert Pitulski worked hard and enjoyed life, his family said.

“He was always singing,” said his wife, Janet Riedwood Pitulski. “You knew what was on his mind from what he was singing.”

His favorite performers included Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan, she said.

“His mother would say, ‘If you knew your prayers like you knew the words to your music, you would go straight to heaven,' ” his wife said.

An avid reader of histories and biographies, Mr. Pitulski collected quotes and was driven to always keep learning, said his son Byron Pitulski.

“He told me, you never stop learning,” he said. “He was just a really kind, caring guy. He loved kids, loved dogs.”

Robert H. Pitulski, 70, of Murrysville died Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. He was born June 25, 1947, in Pittsburgh, the son of the late Henry and Regina Sniegocki Pitulski.

Growing up in the South Side, Mr. Pitulski was a “tough kid” who was headed in a questionable direction until a tougher English teacher straightened him out, his wife said.

“She really got after him,” Mrs. Pitulski said. “She was the motivation for him to go to college.”

He graduated from South Side High School in 1966 and went on to earn a physics degree from Indiana University, a master's degree in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree in informational technology from the University of Pittsburgh.

He worked for Sperry Rand aboard the USS Compass Island, a naval research test vessel that developed the navigation systems used by the first nuclear submarines. He went on to work more than three decades in the nuclear industry, first at the Westinghouse Nuclear Center in Monroeville and then at the Bechtel Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin.

“He traveled extensively for Westinghouse. He would negotiate nuclear fuel contracts,” his wife said.

Along the way, he skied the slopes of Switzerland and several western and eastern states. He became a passionate Penguins fan and season ticket holder.

A leukemia survivor of 12 years, he received a letter recently when he was in the Hillman Cancer Center, Janet Pitulski said.

“Mario Lemieux actually wrote him a letter encouraging him to get better,” she said.

A friend running in the Mario Lemieux Foundation's 6.6K run and family walk on Sunday, the day Mr. Pitulski died, hand-delivered a letter from the family thanking Lemieux for his support, she said.

He advocated hard work followed by celebration, Byron Pitulski said: “Do the right thing during the day, and we're going to have a blast,” summed up his attitude.

A funeral service will celebrate his life, his wife said.

“At the funeral, we are having rock 'n' roll music and blues music playing,” she said. “People are going to have a lot of fun telling stories about him, some I'm sure I've never heard.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Pitulski is survived by a daughter, Alison Seaborn and her husband, Donald, of Warrenton, Va., and sons Maxwell Pitulski of Pittsburgh and Byron Pitulski of Conifer, Colo.; and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Hart Funeral Home Inc., 3103 Lillian Ave., Murrysville. A celebration of life service will be held in the funeral home at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Memorial donations may be made to the Mario Lemieux Foundation, mariolemieux.org.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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