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Marine's tradition of service a boon to church

| Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
News obituary on Theodore Sowko, 83, of Clairton, who died Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013.

Theodore Sowko was a constant presence in Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, just a half-block from his home, his family said.

Whether he was setting up tables for church events, filling in for altar boys when necessary, serving at the altar during funeral services, even calling bingo games, Mr. Sowko gave countless hours of his life to his church without complaint.

“He always loved his church, his faith,” said daughter Debbie Clinton. “It was just ingrained in him.”

Theodore E. Sowko of Clairton, formerly of Monessen, died at home Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, after an illness. He was 83.

Mr. Sowko had worked at several of Westinghouse's facilities in the area, including Green Tree, Churchill and Murrysville, working as a nuclear project manager, Clinton said.

Much of his spare time was devoted to his church, however.

Mr. Sowko volunteered at the church auditorium for 40 years in a variety of functions, including serving as a bartender at events, his daughter said.

Mr. Sowko served as president, secretary/treasurer and auditor for the Greek Catholic Union Lodge 288, and vice president of District 1. He was a delegate at several of the union's national conventions, his daughter said.

“He raised us the same way (as himself),” Clinton said of her family. “We feel the same way as him. We feel it's a big responsibility to be a part of a church community like that.”

Mr. Sowko was an avid golfer and reader, his daughter, said. He spent two or three hours every Sunday reading the newspaper from front to back. As he developed eye problems, he switched to books on tape.

Mr. Sowko was a Marine veteran, serving in the Korean War.

“He was very proud of his service,” Clinton said. “He's going to be buried on Veterans Day. That would have meant a lot to him. He was really proud of being a Marine.”

Along with his daughter Debbie Clinton of Whitehall, Mr. Sowko is survived by his wife, Helen, to whom he was married for 60 years; sons Michael of Forward, and Theodore of North Huntingdon; daughters Betsy Davis of North Augusta, S.C., Susan Kurin of Michigan, and Carolyn Nista of Whitehall; 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from noon to 4 and to 8 p.m. Sunday in A. J. Bekavac Funeral Home, 555 Fifth St., Clairton. Parastas service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home. Panachida service will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the funeral home, followed by a funeral Liturgy at 10 a.m. at the Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church. Interment will be in Ascension Cemetery in Clairton.

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

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