When George Samochin’s children bought their parents a trip to Hawaii as an anniversary present, his fear of flying grounded the idea.
But then his beloved Pitt Panthers played a football game in Hawaii in the 1990s, and he jumped on the first plane out of Pittsburgh.
“His first ride in an airplane was to see Pitt play,” said his daughter, Nadine Danchenka of Houston.
George Raymond Samochin of Tampa, formerly of Duquesne, died on Saturday, May 4, 2013, in his home in Florida. He was 88.
The affinity for University of Pittsburgh football was a family tradition.
Mr. Samochin and his wife of 59 years, the late Rose Marie (Mrvos) Samochin, traveled to every Pitt away game since the 1970s and were members of the Pitt Golden Panthers booster group.
“Her whole wardrobe was blue and gold,” Danchenka said. “Their bathroom was blue and gold.”
Born in Glendale, W.Va., to Jack and Mary (Baranik) Samochin, Mr. Samochin served in the Navy during World War II aboard the aircraft carrier USS Mission Bay, which ferried troops and planes to Britain and Europe.
After the war, he went to work for U.S. Steel’s Homestead Works, retiring with 45 years of service. He sometimes walked from Homestead to the family’s home in Duquesne because he didn’t have a car, said his son, Raymond Samochin of Tampa.
“When he got out late from work and there were no buses, he would walk,” his son said.
Pitt football was No. 1 in their home beginning in the early 1950s, when Mr. Samochin first bought season tickets, his children said.
“We used to take a bus to Oakland in the 1960s … go to the VFW to eat and then walk up ‘Heart Attack Hill’ to Pitt Stadium,” his son said.
Mr. Samochin enjoyed cooking and preparing meals on Sundays, and holidays for family and friends. He loved music, especially Russian and Serbian folk music, Big Band music and mariachi music.
In addition to his wife, Rose, a brother, Nicholas Robert Samochin, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his son and daughter, and four grandchildren.
Visitation is from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Maloy-Schleifer Funeral Home Inc., 915 Kennedy Ave., Duquesne. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Gregory Russian Orthodox Church, Homestead, with the Rev. Stephen Shuga officiating. Entombment with military honors will be in McKeesport-Versailles Mausoleum.
Craig Smith is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.