Obituary: Dennis J. Lapushansky / Ukrainian Orthodox deacon, former flight attendant
Died April 29, 2014
May 6, 2014 11:12 PM
By Robert Zullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When the weather was nice, Dennis J. Lapushansky would open the sliding doors of his condominium in Coraopolis and play piano or organ, prompting some of his neighbors to linger on their balconies and set up lawn chairs like they were at an outdoor concert.
"He was fun. Everyone loved Dennis," said his sister, Patty Colella of Coral Springs, Fla. "He liked to have a good time. He was a jokester."
Mr. Lapushansky, a retired flight attendant and ordained deacon at SS. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Carnegie, died April 29 of a heart attack that followed surgery for throat cancer. He was 60.
A grandson of Ukrainian and Polish immigrants who grew up in New Castle, he was a talented singer and musician who graduated from Duquesne University with a music degree and briefly taught middle school in Shenango before deciding it wasn't the life for him, Ms. Colella said.
"He didn't know what he wanted to do. He had a music degree, but then he found that it wasn't there for him in teaching. He just didn't enjoy it," she said. "He thought he would but he didn't. He wanted more exciting things to do, and flying was more exciting."
A connection got Mr. Lapushansky hired as the personal flight attendant for Victor Posner, the infamous corporate raider, financier, real-estate tycoon and former owner of Sharon Steel Corp., Pennsylvania Engineering Corp. in Lawrenceville and Salem Corp. in Carnegie as well as a Miami Beach company that counted the Arby's fast-food chain and Royal Crown Cola among its holdings.
Mr. Lapushansky was responsible for buying groceries and cooking aboard Mr. Posner's plane but could find himself stranded in South Florida for weeks at a time.
Looking for a more regular schedule, he applied at US Airways, a job he held for 25 years before taking a buyout in 2005, his sister said.
His ordination as a deacon was the culmination of a lifelong religious devotion that had been "gnawing at him for a long time," she added.
"He had various dreams and visions and things ... Like the blessed mother was speaking to him," Ms. Colella said.
A powerful and polished singer who never married and had no children, he was a member of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, the Ukrainian Culture Trust Choir of Western Pennsylvania, the SS. Peter & Paul church choir and the Duquesne University Tamburitzans.
"To look at him and to hear his voice when he was singing, you wouldn't know it was the same person," Ms. Colella said. "You would never think he would have such a professional, beautiful voice."
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. today and from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday at SS. Peter & Paul Church, 220 Mansfield Blvd., Carnegie. A memorial service will be celebrated at 7 p.m. today and funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the church. Burial will be in St. Nicholas Orthodox Cemetery, New Castle.
Robert Zullo: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 or Twitter: @rczullo.