Former Greensburg teacher enjoyed independence, never stopped learning
Helen Koynok had an inquisitive, independent mind.
After her husband and soulmate, George, died in 2002, she left her Greensburg home and “packed up and went to Florida,” her daughter, Mary House, said. “She was close to 78 at the time.”
Mrs. Koynok moved to Stuart, Fla., where another daughter resides, on the Atlantic coast, but she chose to live in her own condominium.
“She drove herself around and went to the ocean,” House said. “She always wanted to live by the ocean.
“She made a lot of friends down there. She didn’t want to come live with any of us because she didn’t want to be a burden to anybody.”
A dozen years later, after breaking her wrist, Mrs. Koynok moved back to Greensburg, taking up residence in St. Anne’s Villa Angela, an assisted living facility.
But that didn’t stop her from remaining active.
House noted her mother became part of a championship Wii bowling team at the home and learned to keep in touch with far-flung family members using Skype and Facebook.
“She was technology-savvy to some extent,” House said. “She never did stop learning.”
Helen Mae Koynok, 92, of Greensburg died Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in St. Anne’s Villa Angela, Greensburg. Born in Hannastown on Nov. 26, 1925, she was a daughter of the late George and Helen Mallon.
Trained as a cadet nurse during World War II, Mrs. Koynok served as a nurse at Mercy Hospital. While beginning to raise four children, she worked for several years as a second-grade teacher at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral school in Greensburg, now known as Aquinas Academy.
“The children liked her and respected her,” House said of the students. “She took that job because it was close to home and she could be home for us.”
“The teacher in her never left her,” said granddaughter Sharon Blair. “The summer after I was in first grade, she noticed that my reading was not up to par. She would make me practice my reading before I could go swimming. I absolutely hated it then, but I love her for it now.”
House noted her mother “really kept herself in shape, with swimming and walking.” That included walking the better part of a mile to and from work at the Social Security disability office in Greensburg. Mrs. Koynok assisted with disability claims there until her 1980s retirement.
An avid reader, she enjoyed playing bridge, pinochle and Mahjong, and once played the piano.
Also a lover of the great outdoors, Mrs. Koynok preferred picnics to dining at restaurants. Once her children were grown, she traveled with her husband to scenic sites such as Old Faithful, eventually making it to all 50 states.
A longtime member of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Mrs. Koynok was strong in her faith and had a knack for finding the best in every situation, her daughter said.
“She took things as they came and never complained about them,” House said. “She just found things to fill her life, and she moved on. She would say, ‘You have to take the bitter with the better.’”
Mrs. Koynok is survived by four children, Terri Pittler and her husband, Leonard, of Stuart, Fla., George Jr. and his wife, Marcy, Mary House, and David and his wife, Joni, all of Greensburg; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren.
Relatives and friends are invited to greet Mrs. Koynok’s family at 10 a.m. Friday for a funeral Mass at St. Bartholomew Church in Crabtree. Interment is private.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jhimler_news.