Eugene C. Ocepek was so well regarded in his South Park community that members of the local Lions Club recently renamed the annual Halloween parade the "Eugene C. Ocepek Halloween Parade."
The parade even starts at the funeral home on Library Road that Mr. Ocepek operated for nearly 40 years.
"He also was a volunteer fireman in Library," said his wife of 34 years, Patricia Ocepek. "He sold cards to the ladies who played bingo at the Library fire hall. They all loved him. They baked him cakes and cookies and they brought him candy. He was a nice guy."
Mr. Ocepek, a lifelong resident of South Park and a founding member of the South Park Lions Club, died on Christmas Eve at St. Clair Hospital from lung disease. He was 84.
While many family funeral businesses are inherited, Mr. Ocepek started his from scratch.
He graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science in 1949. He bought the house where he would start his business in 1956 while working for another funeral director, and in 1958, he turned the house he lived in into a funeral parlor.
Prior to making the decision to become a mortician, Mr. Ocepek served in the Army during World War II and became a corporal.
In 1997, Mr. Ocepek sold his funeral home to David J. Henney, who renamed the business David J. Henney Funeral Home.
"We were getting older and it was getting tougher to run the business," Mrs. Ocepek said. "We decided it was time to sell and enjoy life."
The couple continued to live upstairs at the funeral home and even answered the telephone for Mr. Henney when all of the other lines were busy or no one else was there.
Mr. Ocepek was a charter member of the South Park Lions Club. Mrs. Ocepek said only one other original member of the club is still alive -- Getto Tabonia, who is now in his 90s.
Mr. Ocepek also was a life member of the Library Volunteer Fire Co., serving with it for 68 years.
He also was a life member of the VFW Post No. 6664, a life member of the SNPJ Lodge No. 386, past president of the Holy Name Society, and an usher and lifetime member of St. Joan of Arc Church.
A Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. today in St. Joan of Arc Church. Interment with full military honors will be at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.
Contributions may be made to Slovene Radio Program Fund, 381 F St., Pittsburgh 15209.
David J. Henney Funeral Home, 6364 Library Road, Route 88, South Park, is handling arrangements.
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591.