Greensburg veteran was a dedicated advocate for the handicapped
Whenever anyone at the Westmoreland County Blind Association’s workshop needed a voice or a hand, Ken Gulisek was there.
Mr. Gulisek, whose son, Brett, was born with sight impairments and intellectual challenges, was committed to the workshop. He was grateful to the organization that provided his adult son with a safe community and a workplace filled with friends.
“He wanted to help the organization however he could. He felt they do such a great job. He was always there. He even went to Harrisburg for a rally to help them keep services,” Mr. Gulisek’s wife, Marlene, recalled.
Kenneth J. Gulisek, of Greensburg, died Wednesday, Aug. 14., after a brief illness. He was 70.
Mr. Gulisek was born Nov. 14, 1948, in Mt. Pleasant, a son of the late Frank and Florence Steffins Gulisek. He was a graduate of Latrobe High School and a Vietnam veteran. He enlisted in the Navy upon graduation from high school and was awarded the National Defense Medal and Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star.
Marlene Gulisek, who met her husband in school, said she was surprised when the boy she knew from high school got in touch with her when he came home from Vietnam.
“After he came out of the service, he looked me up and the rest was history. He grew four in inches in the Navy. I don’t know if they stretched him or what,” she said, laughing at the memory of the gangling young veteran who courted her.
The two were married for 48 years.
After his discharge, Mr. Gulisek went to work for Westinghouse, and later at Elliott Co., as an inspector.
When the couple moved to Greensburg, they decided to visit various churches and quickly settled on Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Mr. Gulisek served on the church council and its property committee.
“When we walked through the door at Zion’s, we knew we were home. It was so welcoming. He loved the church,” Marlene Gulisek said.
Mr. Gulisek also was a member of the Greensburg East Hempfield Lions Club and had served on the board of the Westmoreland County Blind Association.
Marlene Gulisek said her husband, an avid outdoorsman, loved camping, hiking and fishing. She said he made special efforts to ensure their son could enjoy an array of sensory marvels and easy treks when they traveled to Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion national parks.
Larry Keys of Latrobe, a longtime friend, cherishes fond memories of the days he and Mr. Gulisek spent restoring a pontoon boat they bought and took fishing on local lakes for years.
“He only made it out once this year, but we always had a real good time. He was the brother I never had. I knew I could count on him. If I needed something, he’d come,” Keys said.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Gulisek is survived by a sister, Linda Beal, of Ligonier; a brother, Thomas Gulisek, of Belmont, Ohio; and a number of nieces and nephews.
Family and friends will be received 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Barnhart Funeral Home, 505 E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 140 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Greensburg. Interment with full military honors accorded by the VFW Post 33, Greensburg, will follow in Westmoreland County Memorial Park, Greensburg.
Memorial donations may be directed to Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 140 S. Pennsylvania, Ave., Greensburg, Pa. 15601.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .