Former Mutual fire chief loved serving his community
Former Mutual Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ronald Kopcho was a dedicated community servant who loved helping others. He often was first at the fire hall when an emergency call came in because he lived so close, said his family and friends.
“He wanted to help the community as much as he could. If he could not make it (to a fire) on the fire truck, he went in his own car,” said his great-nephew, Bobby Stewart of Mutual.
“He was an asset for our station,” said Russ Withrow Jr., first assistant fire chief at Mutual, a small village in Mt. Pleasant Township.
Mr. Kopcho was a member of that volunteer fire department since November 1963 and was the department's current president. He served as fire chief for about 20 years, in the 1970s and 1980s, said Bryan Barnhart, Mutual's fire chief.
“He worked his way up the ranks (to chief). Those who served under him said he was great to work with,” Barnhart said.
Ronald A. Kopcho of Mutual died Wednesday, May 30, 2018, at his home, of complications from an infection. He was 76.
He was born Nov. 19, 1941, in Mutual, a son of the late George and Christine F. Mizenko Kopcho.
After graduating from the former Hurst High School in Norvelt, Mr. Kopcho was a painter working at Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg when he met Mary Ann Manchini, who was a supervisor in the hospital kitchen.
The couple married in June 1965 and bought a house one door away from where he grew up, Stewart said.
He was a truck driver for Moore & Morford Inc. of South Greensburg, where he hauled steel and served as a craneman for the structural steel company.
After retiring from Moore & Morford, he was a tow truck driver for Danser's Auto Repair in Pleasant Unity.
Mr. Kopcho became involved in the fire department through his grandfather, who helped to start the firemen's club for the Mutual fire department, Stewart said.
Not only was he active in the fire company, but his wife was a firefighter as well, Stewart said.
He also had been active with the Unity Township Fire Bureau and was a member of the Westmoreland County Firemen's Association.
When he wasn't at the fire hall, he was busy fixing things, Stewart said.
“He loved working on anything he could take apart and put back together again,” Stewart said.
Stewart remembered Mr. Kopcho as “a very, very loving and kind soul. He did the best for everyone, and anyone he could possibly help, he did,” Stewart said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Kopcho is survived by his brother, Regis W. Kopcho, and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Leo M. Bacha Funeral Home Inc., 2072 Route 130, Pleasant Unity, with the Rev. Daniel E. Baker, Unity Township Fire Bureau chaplain, officiating.
Memorials may be made to Mutual Volunteer Fire Department, 214 Mutual Firehall Road, Greensburg, PA 15601.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.