Outgoing Greensburg dad won many friends with charity work
John Butala loved golf, his local basketball teams and, most of all, his family.
“When he was younger, he played a lot of golf, and he still loved watching it as he got older,” said his daughter, Kim Segal of Huntington, N.Y. “And he loved Latrobe and St. Vincent basketball games.”
John R. “Poom” Butala of Greensburg died Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, at home. He was 78.
Born Feb. 6, 1938, in Hostetter, Mr. Butala was a son of the late John S. and Veronica V. (Ungvarsky) Butala.
Segal said it was rare that the family took a trip which did not involve someone hailing her father.
“You could go anywhere with my dad and find someone he knew,” she said. “No matter where, we’d have to stop for a few minutes because someone would recognize him.”
Mr. Butala’s widespread recognition is owed to his time as a member of the St. Vincent College Development Club, his volunteer work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and his many years as a bartender for private parties and at the Rolling Rock Club and Latrobe Country Club.
“He and some of his guy friends did a lot of bartending for private parties,” Segal said. “He loved doing that because he was such a social person. That’s how he met so many people and made so many friends.”
Mr. Butala was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 940 in Latrobe and the United Slovak Club. He worked his entire career for General Motors at Fisher Body in Dravosburg and was a member of St. Vincent Basilica Parish.
Mr. Butala served in the Army and was married to the late Helen A. (Balko) Butala for 48 years.
Mr. Butala was still volunteering regularly at the time of his death, working Fridays as a cashier at the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Latrobe.
“He was a great guy, and he really made our day. He helped us anytime we needed anything,” said St. Vincent de Paul Manager Anna Hall. “And if someone didn’t show up to work, he would always come in. We’re going to miss him so much.”
Mr. Butala’s family grew up near the former Statler’s Golf Course off Route 30.
“He always did stuff with us kids,” Segal said. “He would be at all our events, whether it was my brother playing basketball or me performing as a majorette at a football game. He’d always be there cheering us on.”
Segal said she has gotten a better sense of just how many lives her father touched in recent days.
“It’s been amazing the last couple of days because so many people have reached out to say how much they loved him,” she said. “Amidst all the sadness, it’s nice to see such an outpouring of generosity.”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Butala is survived by a son, John M. Butala of Irwin; two brothers, Anthony “Tom” Butala of Latrobe, and Robert Butala of New Alexandria; and a granddaughter.
Friends will be received Friday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. in John J. Lopatich Funeral Home, 601 Weldon St., Latrobe, where a memorial service will take place at 7 p.m. Friday. A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Vincent Basilica Parish, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe. Burial with military honors will follow at St. Vincent Cemetery in Unity.
Memorial contributions can be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, P.O. Box 654, Latrobe, PA 15650.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.