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Robert John “Hoday” Kepics
The world has lost a great man. Bob Kepics passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital in Pittsburgh, surrounded by his loving family.
Bob was the proud son of immigrants from Hungary, the late Nicholas and Mary (Kuzmos) Kepics, and was born and raised in Georgetown. His childhood included memories of playing baseball with the neighborhood gang, exploring the dark caves in the Georgetown hollow, skipping school to hitchhike to Pittsburgh Pirates games, running away to Oklahoma, and plucking the feathers from the home-grown chickens; thus his eternal dislike of chicken. He often said he was born deaf and dumb and couldn’t speak any English until the third grade; and was proud of the fact that he overcame his hearing disability and achieved so much. This man did not have any regrets and lived a life filled with love, family and adventure, often joking he was the original Forrest Gump.
Bob met the love of his life, the late Mary C. (Cechvala) during a double date, and they married six months later and went on to share a spectacular 67 years together. “Hoday”, who got his nickname as a young boy while working at Myers Pickle Farm, worked as a metallurgist at Allegheny Ludlum for 42 years, retiring in 1996. To help provide for his family, he also held several other jobs. Many people would recognize him as the “Voice of the Valley”, his handle while working at Rainbow Control emergency dispatch where his yearly favorite activity included the announcing of the location and arrival of Santa Claus every Christmas Eve. He always delighted in dressing as Santa during the Christmas season for the townspeople and posing for pictures. He was instrumental in the formation of Lower Kiski Ambulance Service. He became a lifelong charter member after experiencing firsthand the need for emergency skills and medical help when his young son pulled over a hot coffee pot and badly burned the top half of his body. Bob went on to teach those skills of CPR and EMT practices at local college campuses, including Pitt, IUP, and WCCC, impacting the lives of thousands of students. Later in life, Bob became a deputy coroner and was part of the first responder team in Shanksville for 9/11.
He was a Gilpin township fireman lifetime member, a board member for the Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame committee, a board member for AAA travel, a member of Christ the King Parish and a proud Leechburg Hall of Fame inductee. His commitment to the community and service to others helped him achieve the milestone of donating more than ten gallons of blood to the American Red Cross.
His grandchildren, who idolized him, often called him the honorary mayor of Leechburg because this man knew everyone and would carry on conversations with just about anyone. It amazed his family, that no matter where he was in the world, he knew people, made friends, had connections and shared his inner light and infectious laugh with everyone he touched. Bob and Mary were extremely proud of the tradition they started in 1972, taking their family to Rehoboth/Dewey Beach, Delaware for a vacation which became a 50-year tradition. Many other friends and family enjoyed “Doin’ Dewey” and creating wonderful memories with them through the years.
Bob was a Pitt football and basketball season ticket holder, and was a member of the Greensburg chapter of the Golden Panthers. Shout out to the fans in section 22 at Pitt Stadium, where he was known as “Horn Man”, and led the crowd with chants and cheers. His love of baseball, first as a player, then coach, and then umpire led him to one of his proudest moments - umpiring a Little League World Series baseball game in Williamsport, PA.
His passion for sports and travel came together in 1976 with Pitt’s championship football team. He and his beloved Mary, later joined by many friends and family through their travel company, Kepics Travels, experienced bowl games, cruises, casinos and shows across the United States. He often bragged that he visited 48 states as well as Europe, and parts of North and South America. One of his favorite activities while traveling was “Group therapy” at a variety of casinos which delighted his fellow travelers who shared in the winnings, whether it be money, great memories, or both.
Never having fully recovered from losing both his wife Mary and daughter, Sherry in 2021, Bob often found solace coloring in the early hours of the morning while listening to his favorite country songs. Much to the dismay of his family, Bob’s favorite pastime was escaping to casinos where he could relax, not think, and lose track of time while enjoying the sights and sounds of the machines around him.
Bob is survived by: sons, Michael Kepics (Lori) of Tarentum, Jan Kepics (Marlene Stovall) of Tarpon Springs FL, Scott Morrow (Sherry) of Leechburg; daughters, Tammie Kepics (Joyce Donovan) of Leechburg, and Lori Knauff (Kyle) of Hopewell; nine grandchildren, Brandon Kepics (Lauren), Dena Kepics (Carly Johnson), Nick Hadley (Marlee Scott), Kyle Kepics, Kaitlyn Santil (Eloy), Kimberly Kepics, Kendall Kepics, Hannah Knauff (Tyler Mellott), Leah Knauff; five great-grandchildren, Jameson Kepics, Elaina Kepics, Sasha Kepics, Ava Louise Santil, and Sophia Ann Hadley; his brother, Julius “Nick” Kepics, along with numerous nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, wife, and daughter Sherry, he was preceded in death by his siblings, Helen Querio, Betty Dezzutti, Mary Blake and James Kepics, all of Leechburg.
Friends will be welcomed by his family on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, from 1-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Clawson Funeral & Cremation Center, 170 Main Street, Leechburg, 724-842-1051. Additional visitation will be held from 10-11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 23, prior to Parting Prayers of Transfer at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:30 a.m. at Christ the King Parish, 125 Park Road, Gilpin Township, with the Rev. Alan N. Polczynski as celebrant. Interment will be held at St. Catherine Cemetery, 614 Evergreen Road, Gilpin Township.
In memory of Bob, the family suggests donations be made to the Lower Kiski Ambulance Service, 80 Kiski Avenue, Leechburg, PA 15656.