North Huntingdon man loved his family, restoring old cars
George J. “Jim” Tomasic Jr., of North Huntingdon, had a talent for fixing things, whether it was working on a project around the house or it was restoring and repairing old cars.
But, first and foremost, he dedicated to his family, said his wife of 30 years, Joan L. Tomasic.
“He just loved his family,” she said. “It was his number one priority. He was very protective of his family.”
Mr. Tomasic, 58, died Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh.
He was born March 4, 1961, in McKeesport, the son of the late George J. Tomasic Sr. and Margaret Pavilsko Tomasic.
Mr. Tomasic grew up in the Green Valley neighborhood of North Versailles, where he would ride his bike with Joan Baird, who lived four houses away from his own. They were dating by the time she was a senior at East Allegheny High School.
They got engaged later and were married in June 1989, Joan Tomasic said.
Mr. Tomasic was a skilled mechanic who had previously operated car repair shops in Penn Hills and White Oak, she said. She added he had a natural talent for the work and began honing his skills as a teenager, working on lawn mower engines.
He went to a technical school after high school, but mostly he was self-taught, according to his son, Brandon Tomasic of Murrysville, with whom he worked restoring and repairing cars.
While Mr. Tomasic loved restoring old cars, he was particularly fond of working on 1964 Buick Rivieras — a luxury car in its day.
“He restored and fixed cars for others,” but then was working on his own, said his daughter, Megan Tomasic of North Huntingdon.
Joan said her husband also had a side business selling parts for Rivieras. He had some famous customers: singer Richard Carpenter of the 1970s group The Carpenters and a customer working on a car for Bruce Springsteen.
Around the house he was always working on a project, remodeling their basement on his own or building a tree house for their children when they were youngsters.
Mr. Tomasic would take his family to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, area museums and to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“He loved to go on Sunday drives,” Megan said.
Although his father was not a big race car fan, Brandon said they got to experience the Indianapolis 500 race this May.
“We always talked about going,” he said.
Mr. Tomasic enjoyed interacting with his children and “had a lot of deep conversations with the kids,” Joan Tomasic said.
“No matter what we told him,” Megan said, “he was there for us and understanding.”
Megan said her father enjoyed talking politics with her, even though they were on different sides of the political spectrum. Their disagreements were civil and they tried to understand and respect each other.
Mr. Tomasic retired a few years ago from his job as a Port Authority bus driver. He had his share of stories about his experiences with some of the bus riders, Joan Tomasic said.
Retirement gave him more time to repair and restore cars with Brandon, the family said.
Not only did he love old cars, but he loved playing classic rock music on his record player.
He was a big Bruce Springsteen fan who saw the “the Boss” about eight times over the years when he played in Pittsburgh. Megan recalled her first concert was a Springsteen show at old Mellon Arena.
He was preceded in death by a brother-in-law.
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by four sisters and several nieces and nephews.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at James W. Shirley Funeral Home, 176 Clay Pike, Irwin. A memorial Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Immaculate Conception Church, 308 2nd St., Irwin. Mourners are asked to go directly to the church. Memorial donations can be made to the American Stroke Association, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, Texas, 75231, or the Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Fla., 32256
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .