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Obituary Stories

Army veteran from Acme was 'hero' to his family

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

Frank Patula Sr. was among a group of Army truck drivers who at the end of World War II moved refugees from German concentration camps back to their home countries in war-torn Europe.

“He never really talked much about it,” his wife of 59 years, Nellie Terhorst Wilson Patula, said of her husband's service in the 740th Tank Battalion.

Frank James Patula Sr. of Acme died Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, at his home. He was 93.

He was born March 1, 1924, in Acme, a son of the late Joseph and Catharine Pochran Patula. He was the last living of his 14 siblings, who were raised in a four-room log house, Nellie Patula said.

He attended the “Ten Bushel Box” school in the Acme area until he was in eighth grade. It was the Great Depression, and he didn't go on to high school.

Nellie Patula said she was a widow in Acme with three young daughters when she married Mr. Patula in 1959.

“He was a great father to them,” she said.

“He was a great dad,” said daughter Vicky Brown. “He was our hero.”

The couple had a daughter and two sons together.

Nellie Patula said her husband was a hard worker. He was a laborer for Fretts and Leeper Construction Co. and would travel outside the area if necessary, she said.

In his spare time, he loved to garden. He was so good at growing vegetables that the family didn't have to buy much.

“I hardly ever bought any stuff at the grocery store,” Mrs. Patula said, because she was so busying canning vegetables from their garden.

Mr. Patula was a gold circle member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3368 of Mt. Pleasant, the Kecksburg Club and Possum Hollow Club in Unity.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three stepdaughters, Darlene Brinker of Houston, Texas, Peggy Baggett of Belmont, N.C., and Vicky Brown of Crucible, Greene County; a daughter, Kelly Lloyd, of Mebane, N.C.; two sons, Frank Patula Jr. of Acme and Gregory Patula of Greensburg; 24 grandchildren; and 26 great-grandchildren.

Friends were received at Jay A. Hoffer Funeral Home, Norvelt, where military rites will be accorded by the Armbrust Veteran Association at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Fairview Cemetery, Kecksburg.

Memorial donations may be made to Excela Health Home Care and Hospice, 501 W. Otterman St., Greensburg, PA 15601; and Chestnut Ridge Meals on Wheels, 647 Bethel Church Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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