Deacon energized by love of church, heritage
Joseph Mell taught Sunday school in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks with his wife, keeping the altar clean for services, lighting the candles and ensuring that the colors corresponded to the seasons and holy days.
He loved his church so much that he joined the Late Vocations Program on the South Side and was ordained a deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church when he was 50 years old.
“He had such a profound love for the church, his heritage and his religion,” said son Gregory Mell of McCandless.
Father Deacon Joseph C. Mell, formerly of Stowe, died Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, of heart problems in his home in McCandless. He was 59.
He was born in Stowe to Olga and Joseph Mell. Although he was half Russian and half Italian, his mother made sure he understood his Russian heritage, especially the Russian Orthodox Church. Later, he helped people from the church trace their Russian roots.
He graduated from Stowe High School and received a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Unable to find a job as a social studies teacher, he attended the Pittsburgh School of Barbering and obtained a barber's license. He later reserved giving haircuts only to his son and friends.
“I loved when my dad gave me a haircut,” Gregory Mell said. “He had all the professional tools — the cape, the clippers. He would cut my hair, and we would talk about anything — politics, life.”
Nancy Mell, 71, of McCandless met her future husband through the church. He was president of the Russian Orthodox Art Club, a church social club to which she belonged.
She noticed how her husband took care of his mother, who had a bad heart, hip and back.
“How a man treats his mother is how he would treat his wife. The age difference didn't matter. We just loved each other,” she said.
They were married on Nov. 10, 1984. About three years later, he got a job with AT&T handling complicated business bills. He worked for the company until the time of his death. He was also a union steward for the Communications Workers of America.
Gregory Mell followed in his father's footsteps. He received a bachelor's degree from his father's alma mater, became a social studies teacher in the McGuffey School District and union representative for the McGuffey Education Association.
“He was so proud of the fact that I am a teacher,” Gregory Mell said.
He recalled his father's generosity.
“When it was cold outside and there was frost and snow, he would park his car outside so you could park in the garage,” Gregory Mell said. “He inconvenienced himself to make it easier for someone else.”
In addition to his wife and son, survivors include sisters Leslie Wokutch of Robinson, Heidi Meyers of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and Rosemary Homer of Kennedy Township.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks. Funeral services will be at 7 p.m. Monday. Divine Liturgy will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Burial will follow in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Valerian F. Szal Funeral Home Inc., 238 Helen St. in McKees Rocks, is in charge of arrangements.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Komen acceptance of drilling-linked money raises ire
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Jack Bruce, bassist of 60s band Cream, dies at 71
- Flight 93 memorial fire hints at struggle to safeguard historic artifacts
- Cafeteria worker tried to stop Washington school shooter
- Steelers notebook: Shazier returns just in time
- Ferrante trial: Cyanide order form in plain sight
- Penguins look to buck shots, goals trend
- Fábregas: Cancer-stricken California woman chooses to plan her death
- I-79 off-ramp in Cranberry to close Saturday night