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Latrobe gardener never said 'no' to those in need

| Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009

Anthony Planinsek had many loves in his life, but his two greatest passions may have been his family and his garden.

"He was a very kind gentleman," recalled his son, Fred Planinsek. "He was always a hard worker. He was well-versed in being able fix things without much knowledge."

Anthony F. Planinsek, 93, of Latrobe died Thursday in Bethlen Communities.

Throughout most of his life, he tended to his garden, which his son Tom Planinsek remembered covering more than a half-acre with potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, peppers and zucchini. It wasn't until the summer of 2008 that he cut back to about 48 tomato plants covering about 1/4 acre.

"We lived off the land growing up," said Tom Planinsek. "He'd spend hours and hours and hours there. I often teased him that's where I was going to dig his hole and roll him in. That was his life in the summer and the fall. My mom yelled at him as we grew up to quit planting so many tomatoes. (But) it was supplying food for the family."

Those genes have been passed on to some family members, such as another son, Fred, who Tom said has put up about 100 quarts of tomato juice.

Their father enjoyed making wine.

"We drank many bottles that we never had to buy," recalled Tom Planinsek. "I remember the fruit cellar in the basement with 50-gallon casks full of wine."

The family had an annual wine-tasting party, a tradition that will be observed tonight with 15 people expected to bring wine for the gathering.

"So we'll have a pre-wake wake," Tom Planinsek said.

Mr. Planinsek had been a member of Sacred Heart Church, Youngstown, and had been an employee of the former American Cyanamid. He also was retired from Robertshaw Controls near New Stanton. He was a member of American Legion Post 982 in Unity and the Kranjsko Slovenska Katoliska Jednota (KSKJ) Lodge.

His son Fred Planinsek said his father did not talk much about his service for the Army in World War II.

"He wouldn't talk about it," Fred Planinsek said. "Anytime we talked about it, he just changed the subject."

Mr. Planinsek enjoyed people and dearly loved having his family at his house every Sunday. He enjoyed seeing his nieces and nephews, who reveled in his ever-stocked M&M dispensers.

"He was always there to help people," Tom Planinsek said. "I don't think he ever told anybody 'no' when they asked for help. He was a good Christian man."

Mr. Planinsek was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Josephine (Johant) Planinsek; his wife, Veronica T. (Raishart) Planinsek; an infant brother, as well as brothers Adolph, Louis, Edward and Joseph Planinsek; and three sisters, Mary Olczak, Jenny Ferentchak and Anna Corey.

Survivors include three sons, Fred Planinsek and his wife, Barbara, of Latrobe, Thomas Planinsek and his wife, Rebecca, of Churchill, and Anthony Planinsek of Derry; two daughters, Veronica Gurisko and her husband, Jay, of Cape Cod, Mass., and Joanne Ash and her husband, Barry, of Johnstown; a sister, Josephine Olczak, of Youngstown; nine grandchildren, Amy, Christy, Jesse, Luke, Jacob, Sara, Molly, Travis and Shane; five great-grandchildren, Mason, Taylor, Chandler, Sophie and Marek, and also a number of nieces and nephews.

Family and friends will be received from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday in the John J. Lopatich Funeral Home, 601 Weldon St., Latrobe. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in Sacred Heart Church with the Rev. Peter Augustine Pierjok, OSB, as celebrant. Internment will be at St. Vincent Cemetery.

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