Slickville man spent a life behind the wheel of oil trucks, fire engines |
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Edward Novak

When Edward Novak learned to drive, it was behind the wheel of one of his family’s heating-oil delivery trucks.

“He loved driving big trucks. He learned to drive on one,” said his daughter, Jessica Rader. “He taught me and my mom to drive — in a big SUV. He had no sympathy for us there.”

Yet, after she got into an automobile accident in the winter and was too scared to drive in the snow from then on, Mr. Novak shuttled his younger daughter half an hour to work whenever she was too nervous.

“He put us before him. He drove me to work even though I could have done it on my own,” she said.

A longtime driver for the L.J. Novak Oil Co. and member of the Slickville Volunteer Fire Department, Edward F. Novak of Slickville died Thursday, June 7, 2018, at Excela Health Westmoreland from complications of pneumonia. He was 61.

Mr. Novak was the son of Frank Novak, who founded the family’s heating-oil delivery business with his brothers, and Olga Plancic Novak. From the time he could drive on his own, he was guiding one of the family’s trucks on its deliveries.

“Slickville’s a small town; everyone knew him as the oil hauler,” his daughter said. “Everybody we’ve heard from has been saying he really cared for his customers; he cared for everyone.”

He became a firefighter with the Slickville Volunteer Fire Department from the time he was 18, eventually rising to a brief stint as chief in 2008 before stepping down for surgery. He drove the fire engines and, when the department had one, an ambulance.

Mr. Novak was with the department more than 40 years, serving as an officer, trustee and fundraiser who helped oversee equipment upgrades and the department’s centennial, said his son-in-law, David Rader, who was also a volunteer firefighter with the department.

“He was a very good asset to the fire department. He was a driver and a hell of a good man. Any time the whistle blew, he was there,” said Chief Mike Perfetta, who said he introduced Mr. Novak to his future wife when she was the “third wheel” on dates with his then-girlfriend.

“I pawned her off on Ed,” Mr. Perfetta said, and the couple would be married for 33 years.

Mr. Novak is survived by his wife, Mary, 54; his daughters Jenny, 33, and Jessica, 25, both of Slickville; his sisters Diane and Lorraine, also of Slickville; his brother, David, of Greensburg; and two grandchildren.

Family and friends will be received from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Vaia Funeral Home, 463 Athena Drive, Delmont. The Slickville Fire Department will conduct a service at the funeral home at 7 p.m., and funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Assembly of God Church, 246 Pleasant Valley Road, Jeannette, with interment at Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, [email protected] or via Twitter @msantoni.

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