Philosophical blacksmith from Boquet dies at 66
Following his passions left a long list of interesting titles to describe Jack W. Stull, but the most accurate description may be the simplest.
“He just had this way about him that everybody just felt like he was a really good person as soon as they met him,” said his daughter, Maggie Drezewski of Washington.
“My whole life, I’ve tried to be a good person because of how he was,” said his son, Sean Stull of Jeannette. “It wasn’t really anything he forced on us; he just lived it. And I think we all wanted to be good because of it.”
Jack W. Stull, 66, died Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in his home in Boquet of pancreatic cancer.
He was born Dec. 5, 1948, in Kittanning, a son of the late Jack and Shirley Stull. A standout football player at Kittanning High School, Mr. Stull went on to play at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he earned a degree in philosophy and developed a passion for blacksmithing.
“He had a forge on the roof of the fraternity house, and he’d go up there and make wrought-iron items,” said his brother, Wade Stull of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Stull later opened a blacksmith shop in Claridge. He worked at several manufacturing companies, bypassing career paths associated with philosophy in favor of working with his hands.
“I don’t think it was what he actually started to go to school for, but he ended up changing his major,” said his wife, Connie. “It really did come in handy with raising five children. It really put things in the proper perspective.”
Mr. Stull learned to scuba dive after his children surprised him with scuba training as a gift one Father’s Day. He persuaded his wife to join him in becoming certified, and they enjoyed many expeditions in the Bahamas.
“We weren’t great scuba divers, but we really, really enjoyed the nice weather and the warm water to dive in,” his wife said. “He loved it.”
Mr. Stull was personable and friendly, ready to strike up a conversation with anyone he met, his family said.
“He really connected with people, even strangers,” his son Sean said. “No matter where we went, he’d always be off talking to somebody. We’d think maybe he knew that person, but basically he had just met them. By the end of the conversation, he would usually know their kids’ names, or their oldest daughter was going to Stanford. … He always really connected to people, and he’d remember them years later.”
Mr. Stull was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War after college, opting to serve at a Veterans Affairs hospital rather than serving in the military in a war he opposed.
“Some people relate conscientious objectors to not having the guts to fight, but … if I was in a war and there was one person I’d want in my foxhole, it would be him, because he was tough,” his brother said. “He waged the toughest battle for two and a half years against pancreatic cancer, and I didn’t know what was keeping him going other than just willpower to be with his family.”
In addition to his parents, Mr. Stull was preceded in death by his first wife, Theresa Holt Stull.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Connie Riznow Stull; his children, Sean Stull and wife, Anita, of Jeannette, Maggie Drezewski and husband, Anthony, of Washington, Pa., Wayne Stull and wife, Gabrielle, of Penn Township, Matthew Stull of Boquet, and Jackie Gasior and husband, Shawn, of Boquet; and nine grandchildren.
There will be no visitation. A memorial and gathering to celebrate his life will be held at a later date.
Memorial tributes may be sent to the River Hawks Football Boosters for a football scholarship fund in his name: River Hawks Football Boosters, c/o Frank Fabian, 145 Sloan Hill Road, Kittanning, PA 16201.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bash-Nied Funeral Home in Delmont.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or [email protected].