‘Gentle giant’ was workplace mentor, life of the party
At age 65, Bill Marszalek could still easily bench press more than 200 pounds. A weightlifter from his teens who stood 6 feet, 2 inches tall, he cut an imposing figure.
But, for those who knew him, his jovial personality, winning smile and concern for others are what really made him stand out.
“He was the most lovable, jolly, gentle giant you could ever imagine,” said his wife, Sandy. “He joked around and made people laugh.”
“He never tried to be the center of attention, but he always was,” said his son, Timothy. “He was the life of the party.”
William G. “Bill” Marszalek, 69, of Harrison City, died at home on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, following a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Born Feb. 4, 1950, in Wilkinsburg, he was a son of the late Henry and Irene Marszalek.
Mr. Marszalek retired from PennDOT in March 2007, after 36 years of service, advancing from a construction inspector to construction project manager. He oversaw work on major highway and bridge improvements on Interstate 79, the Smithfield Street Bridge, and at the intersection of routes 22 and 48 in Monroeville. He continued to manage projects for an additional four years, while working for KCI Technologies in Monroeville.
Serious when it came to his job, Mr. Marszalek was known as a trouble-shooter and mentor for others in his field.
“He was so knowledgeable in all construction fields,” his wife said. “You couldn’t put anything past him. He was an easygoing guy, but if you messed up on the job, you knew he was the boss.”
Mr. Marszalek “volunteered his time to help people even if they didn’t’ ask for help,” his son said, noting he never failed to stop when he encountered someone who needed assistance.
“There was an older gentlemen who fell and was lying by the side of the road,” his wife recalled. “He stopped and asked if he needed an ambulance.”
Between a busy work schedule and building a handicapped-accessible home addition for his aging mother, Mr. Marszalek enjoyed collecting and shooting firearms, driving sports cars and riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle on road trips with his wife to local destinations as well as rallies in Sturgis, S.D., and Daytona Beach.
“He enjoyed being a handyman and tinkering with stuff, whether it was a vehicle or something with the house,” his son said.
He regularly went hunting but wasn’t concerned about returning with a trophy. “He just enjoyed the outdoors; he didn’t care if he saw a deer,” his son said. “It was his peaceful time.”
A longtime Pirates fan and life member of the Irwin Sportsmen’s Club and the National Rifle Association, he attended St. Barbara Parish in Harrison City.
In addition to his parents, Mr. Marszalek was preceded in death by a brother, Timothy H. Marszalek.
In addition to his wife of more than 38 years, he is survived by three children, Darcee (Steven Craig) Grooms of Ambridge, Lisa (Scott) Hissong of Castle Shannon and Timothy (Mallory) Marszalek of Dallas, Texas; eight grandchildren; six great-grandchildren.
Friends and family will be received from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Forgie Snyder Funeral Home, 1032 Broadway Ave., East McKeesport, where a blessing service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Interment will follow at Good Shepherd Cemetery in Monroeville.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .