Frank Gorup Jr., known affectionately as “Squirrel”, passed away on Thursday, March 30, 2023, just six days short of his 99th birthday. Despite his age, his death was still somehow unexpected. He always seemed indestructible.
Born in Slavina, Slovenia (a part of former Yugoslavia) on April 5, 1924, he was the son of Frank and Apolona (Sabec) Gorup. In September 1924, he and his mother crossed the Atlantic on the USS Martha Washington on their journey to America, with only tags on their lapels, noting their destination of Irwin, PA, to join his father. After a short time, the family moved to Company House # 3, in Muse, PA, where his father found work in the coal mine.
Frank attended Muse Elementary School and graduated from Cecil High School, excelling at football, baseball, and basketball. In 1942 his family moved to Miller Plan, North Strabane Township. Frank was a proud member of the “Greatest Generation” and was drafted during World War II into the US Army, serving on several islands in the Pacific. A notable time of his service was being present on Leyte on October 20, 1944, when General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore declaring, “People of the Philippines, I have returned”.
In 1954 he married his beloved wife of 64 years, Dorothy Klobucher Gorup, and was deeply devoted to her until her passing in 2018. They built a life together enjoying yard work, shopping, Slovenian picnics, attending weekly mass and spreading love throughout their family.
Until retirement at age 62, Frank was employed by the Pennsylvania Transformer-McGraw Edison plant in the blast department for over 40 years.
Frank was admired by his friends and neighbors for his physical strength which he maintained until his passing. He was committed to growing his garden vegetables from seed. Despite never really liking vegetables himself, gardening gave him pride and the opportunity to share his harvests with family and friends. He relished digging, shoveling snow, raking leaves, picking berries and exercising daily. For years, Frank walked to Canonsburg Hospital to pick up a newspaper and “make his rounds” visiting friends. Frank also enjoyed playing softball until his mid-70’s.
Frank loved listening to polkas, playing the banjo--where he was known to duet with his niece Allison on the button box for family events, and reading the newspaper cover to cover daily.
The highlight of each week for Frank was listening to the Slovene Radio Hour on Sunday afternoons. He never missed a show, eager to hear the week’s special news and upcoming events in the local Slovenian American community. This program provided him a continuous connection to his Slovenian homeland throughout his life.
Frank dreamed of returning to his birthplace Slovenia, but always prioritized his responsibilities at home. Following his wife’s passing in 2018, with the encouragement of his family, he fulfilled his dream with a trip to the “old country” at the age of 94. There he visited the home where he was born, met first cousins and relatives he had never known and knelt in the family pew of the church where he was baptized. He was moved by the beauty of the church in Slavina and enjoyed listening to the church bells there ring every 15 minutes just as his mother often described to him as a child.
He enjoyed the adventure of climbing mountains, visiting vineyards, “co-piloting” a private flight around Mt. Triglav and seeing many iconic sights throughout Slovenia. He was amazed by the beauty of the flowers and fruit trees and took notes on local gardening techniques which he applied back at home. Throughout the trip he prided himself on still being able to speak Slovenian fluently with everyone he met. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.
Frank has served as 3rd Vice Commander of American Legion Post 902 in Houston, PA since 2015, where he remained actively involved until his passing. He visited weekly, attended meetings and special events regularly and was welcomed and appreciated for his ageless enthusiasm and support for the organization. As one of the oldest living members of the organization, he was grateful for the kindness of the members, especially Sam Lauricia, who looked after Frank like a brother.
Frank has been a member of VFW Post 191 since being discharged from the Army in 1946. He also held membership in the Strabane KSKJ, AFU Lodge 149, and SNPJ Lodge 138 where he was an honored 80-year member.
Although the last of his family, Frank is survived by his devoted sisters-in-law Agnes (Edward) Engel and Mary Jane (William) Prost.
Deceased, in addition to his parents and his wife Dorothy, are brothers and sisters-in-law William (Kathryn) Klobucher of Pittsburgh, Edward (Lila) Klobucher of Hazel Park, Michigan, and Josephine (George) Mikitin of Cecil Twp.
Although Frank and his late wife Dorothy never had children, they poured their lives into the hearts of their nieces and nephews William (Kathy) Klobucher, June (Robert) Bernard, Kathy Klobucher, Edward (Diane) Klobucher, Scott (Lia) Klobucher, Larry (late Janice) Johnson, Patricia Mikitin, Barbara Mikitin, William (late Worth) Prost, Peggy (Steve) McMahan, and Beth Ann (Ed) Manning, Edward Engel, and Allison (Gregory) Thompson. Their love continued with the more recent additions to the family, their great-nieces and nephews, Michael (Erin) McMahan, Emily and John Manning, Maxwell and Ian Thompson, as well as great-great niece and nephew Caroline and Andrew McMahan, who kept them young at heart and brought them endless joy.
Friends and family will always remember Frank’s firm handshake and gentle smile.
The family will greet friends on Tuesday April 4th from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm in SALANDRA FUNERAL and CREMATION SERVICES, INC. Joseph P. Salandra, LFD, owner/supervisor, 304 West Pike Street, Canonsburg 724-745-8120 where departing prayers will be recited at 11:10 am WEDNESDAY April 5, 2023. A celebration of Frank’s life and a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 am in St. Oscar Romero Parish St. Patrick Church 317 West Pike Street Canonsburg. Following mass, there will be a banner ceremony 1 pm honoring Frank outside of the American Legion Post 902, 124 W Pike St, Houston. Interment will take place on THURSDAY April 6th at 11am at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies where full Military Rites will be accorded by the VFW Post 191 Honor Guard and the United States Army. To view or extend condolences please visit www.salandrafunerals.com.
For those wanting to honor Frank, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Slovene Radio Hour, 851 F. Street, Pittsburgh, Pa 15209; American Legion Post 902, 124 W Pike St, Houston, PA 15342 or a charity of one’s choice.
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