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Obituary Stories

Teacher, firefighter from West Newton shared love of music

Stephen Huba
| Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
John A. “Jack” Savinski, 70, of West Newton, died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.
John A. “Jack” Savinski, 70, of West Newton, died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

Wherever he went, Jack Savinski touched people's lives with his love of music.

He brought music to a generation of students at the Yough School District, played in a firemen's band in Mt. Pleasant and helped found a community band in Jeannette that is still going strong.

“Until the day he died, he was involved,” his daughter Melissa McWilliams said.

Mr. Savinski taught in the Yough School District for 38 years, first as a band director at the junior and senior high schools and then as a band teacher at the elementary level. He played clarinet and saxophone.

“He spent a lot of years teaching others, setting an example for others, and touched so many lives,” his daughter said.

John A. “Jack” Savinski of West Newton died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, after suffering a heart attack. He was 70.

Born in Greensburg on Feb. 28, 1947, he was a son of Naomi (Free) Savinski and the late Anthony J. Savinski. He graduated from Jeannette High School in 1965.

Mr. Savinski studied music education at Saint Vincent College and got his master's degree at Duquesne University. He taught at Yough his entire career.

While at the elementary school, he organized a concert series called “Let's Go Band” that blended the band programs of all district elementary schools.

“It was something that everybody looked forward to, and that they took with them and remembered,” his daughter said. “He made such an impact on people in music and how he taught.”

Mr. Savinski played in the Mt. Pleasant Fireman's Band and the Jeannette Community Band, which he helped form for the city's centennial celebration in 1988. As recently as last year, he was listed as a clarinet player on the band's website. He played with childhood friends and former students, his daughter said.

Mr. Savinski was a longtime volunteer firefighter, first with the Saint Vincent fire brigade and later with Herminie Station No. 15. He was instrumental in restoring a 1926 fire engine so it could be used in parades and displays, she said.

His daughter said she remembers going to the fire station with her father when she was a child. If there was a fire call while her mother was working, Mr. Savinski took her with him.

“He had me trained — if the fire whistle blew, I knew to run to the steps, put my shoes and coat on and go to the fire hall with him,” she said. “I would just go and sit in the fire hall and watch TV.”

Mr. Savinski is survived by his wife, Elizabeth “Betty” (Rhoads) Savinski; two daughters, Melissa McWilliams and Susan Martin, both of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and three grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Edward Parish. Interment will follow in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Hempfield.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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