Navy veteran tended plants, stray cats
Donald Hisker had a passion for plants.
The Greensburg native grew everything from tomatoes and cucumbers to petunias and irises, and he freely shared the bounty of his backyard garden as well as the benefit of his horticultural know-how.
“He always had to have his tomato plants,” said his son, James. “He’d give me the excess, and I would usually make tomato sauce.”
Transforming his home’s coal cellar into a hot house, Mr. Hisker grew all of his plants from seeds.
“He would give his neighbors advice on flowers,” said his daughter, Amy Opsitnick. “He would bring them seeds and tell them to plant them at specific times.”
Donald M. Hisker of Greensburg died Saturday, March 16, 2019, at his Greensburg home. He was 95.
Born March 18, 1923, he was a son of the late Morris L. and Lydia Hisker.
Mr. Hisker worked in the shipping department at the local Robertshaw plant from 1941 to 1988, taking time out to enlist in the Navy during World War II. According to his children, he was proud of his service as a first class petty officer and belonged to the Greensburg VFW post.
Graduating as an aviation machinist mate and also completing training at the Aviation Free Gunnery School in Hollywood, Fla., he was stationed in Pearl Harbor, waiting to board a ship for the Pacific Theater, when the war ended.
Mr. Hisker put to good use at home the skills that had suited him for a wartime machinist’s role.
“He was a tinkerer,” his son said. “He tried just about anything.” That included working on his home’s plumbing, building wood frames to display his wife’s stitched samplers and creating birdhouses and birdbaths to support his interest in bird watching.
A member of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Mr. Hisker took pleasure in building and displaying models of sailing ships in his retirement.
“When we were growing up, everything he would help you with would be so precise,” his daughter said. “He had that artistic hand.”
He also had a soft spot in his heart for animals, particularly stray cats.
“He was like the neighborhood ‘cat whisperer,’ ” his son said. “He would feed the stray cats in the wintertime and find a warm place for them. He made a bed on the back porch for them. They would always be waiting for him to come out.”
In addition to his parents, Mr. Hisker was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor Ann. Survivors include two children, James E. and his wife, Jane, and Amy L. Opsitnick and her husband, Edward, all of Greensburg; his granddaughter, Liz Opsitnick; several nieces and nephews.
Parting prayers will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Clement L. Pantalone Funeral Home, 409 W. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
Entombment with military honors will follow in the Greensburg Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum.
Memorial donations may be made to the charity of one’s choice.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .