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Energetic veteran known for sense of humor

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Thomas Zepp, of Duquesne.

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By Bill Vidonic
Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Thomas W. Zepp rarely got frustrated as he spent nearly two years on a transplant list waiting for a new liver, his wife said.

“I don't think he was ever frustrated that they couldn't find a liver,” Lucille Zepp, said Friday. “I think he was just frustrated that he couldn't do a lot of the things he did before. He was so physically fit and active. He was always working and fixing things and riding his motorcycle. He was doing something all the time.”

Thomas W. Zepp of Duquesne died from complications of liver disease Wednesday, June 19, 2013. He was 55.

Mr. Zepp worked in Central Blood Bank for nearly 17 years as a medical assistant, drawing blood from patients until he had to leave because of disability within the last several years.

“The people there loved him as much, I think, as he loved them,” Lucille Zepp said, adding that the couple met while working there together. “He was always making people laugh there.”

Mr. Zepp started a military Reserve career with the Army National Guard but then joined the Air Force 171st Air Refueling Wing in Moon, retiring as a master sergeant in 2006. There, his wife said. Mr. Zepp worked in the life support section, taking care of crew equipment including oxygen and helmets. He taught crews survival skills, including medical training and use of life rafts, tents and flares, to survive until rescued. He trained Boy Scouts in survival techniques and gave demonstrations at air shows.

“He really liked to be involved in things like that,” Lucille Zepp said.

Mr. Zepp loved motorcycles, his wife said, and was a member of the Second Chance Motorcycle Club, frequently riding with club members.

Lucille Zepp said her husband was an avid runner and was proud of completing the Great Race twice, once in 1988 and again in 1992.

In addition to his wife, Lucille, Mr. Zepp is survived by stepchildren Lori Grybel of Verona, Sharon Zapf of McCandless and Amy Grybel of Harmarville; siblings Brenda D. Evelyn of Duquesne, William L. Szep of Indiana, and Trisha Wilcox of Columbia, S.C.; several nieces and nephews and other family members. He was preceded in death by a sister, Carole Schmoll.

Family and friends will be received from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday in Walter J. Zalewski Funeral Home, 216 44th St., Lawrenceville. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Christ the Light of the World Parish, 32 S. 1st St., Duquesne. Burial will follow in National Cemetery of the Alleghenies with full military honors. Members of the Second Chance Motorcycle Club will provide an escort for the funeral procession.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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