John Kupchella,Sr.

Obituary of John Paul Kupchella,Sr.

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KUPCHELLA—John Paul, Sr. 96, of Nanty Glo, passed away October 12,2021, at home surrounded by his family.   Born May 16, 1925 in Nanty Glo, son of the late Martin and Mary (Kazlauakas) Kupchella.   Last surviving member of his immediate family, he is preceded in death by beloved wife, Dora in 1996; granddaughter, Claire Kupchella; grandson, Bryce Kupchella; son-in-law Rick Remic, and longtime companion, Shirley Kovach.  Also preceded by sisters, Bernice and Katherine; brothers, Bernard (MaryAnn Swensky); William (Elizabeth Lltavec); Charles (Margaret Buelte); Martin (Sylvia Monborne); and Anthony (Doris Whitesell).  Survived by children: Bernadette Remic; Rosemary (Rick) Mercik; Johnny Paul (Patricia Szekeresh); and Daniel (Angela Hegedus); Grandchildren: Alena (Matt) Gourley, Joshua (Mallory Ruby), Devon (Hunter Ruby), Mitchell Mercik (partner Sarah Figalora), Christopher (Nichole Eicher) Kupchella, and Jordan Kupchella. Great Grand Pappy to eight great-grandchildren and one expected in December:  Issadora, Jacob, and Ian Gourley;  Cassidy, Jonas and Marlee Kupchella;  Thea and Lillian Ruby.

John lived his life with the desire to constantly serve and improve his community; demonstrated by his military service as well as his lifelong commitment to leaving the world a better place.  After his father’s death, he left school early to monetarily support his family household.  Then in 1943, John entered the U.S. Army.  He was a member of  63rd Infantry Division as a telecommunication lineman in the European theater of WWII.  With his Army Division, he participated in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp.  While in the Army he was a recipient of the American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, EAME Campaign Medal, and Good Conduct Medal. Later in life, he loved to share stories from the war with his children and grandchildren. 

John returned to Nanty Glo after the conclusion of World War II.  A few years later, he married his beloved wife, Dora Shaffer on July 16, 1949. 

Early in John’s career, he used the GI Bill to learn the auto body trade and then was trained as a welder.  He was employed by US Steel for 30 years and retired as a foreman.  Throughout these years, John was extremely dedicated to improving lives in the community of Nanty Glo and the surrounding area.  He had dreams and goals to better his town. 

He was elected to the school board when it was proposed to combine the schools of Vintondale, Nanty Glo and Blacklick, and in 1959, Blacklick Valley was formed.  John was elected and served tenure as Mayor of Nanty Glo.  During his time, Blacklick Valley High School was completed.  John was part of the Nanty Glo Planning Commission which developed many improvements to the town; the Park and Pool, Water & Sewer, Triangle Park, Nanty Glo Housing, rerouting 271 to its present location, and the Acid Mine Water Reclamation Project (the first project that was taken on by the Army Corps of Engineers in the US).  He said that he wanted his grandchildren and great grandchildren to fish in the same stream he fished in as a child. As part of the Cambria County Planning Commission for 30 years, the Webster Mine Reclamation was completed and Rails to Trails was brought to fruition. For a period of time he was the chairman of the Planning Commission.

John never stopped being a visionary.  He still had plans and dreams that weren’t finished.  He envisioned a park at First and McCoy Streets along the Rails to Trails, dedicated to members of the military from Nanty Glo that made the ultimate sacrifice.  He also proposed the extension of the Rails to Trails to Frenchie’s Dip. John wished to have an education center at the entrance of the Webster Mine Ponds displaying Mother Nature repairing the ecosystem, correcting actions of the mining industry. 

John was devoted to his Catholic faith.  As a longtime member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, he served as an usher for many years. He was also a 4th Degree Knight in Father John P. Hacala’s Council #8307 Knights of Columbus.

John or “Pappy”, as his family referred to him, will be forever remembered as a servant of the Lord and a leader in his community.  He will be greatly missed by his family and friends but his legacy and accomplishments will live on.

Friends will be received from 2-8 p.m. on Thursday, at the Askew-Houser Funeral Homes, Inc., Nanty Glo, (masks recommended) where a Knights of Columbus Memorial Service and vigil wake service will be held.  Funeral mass will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday at St.  Mary’s Catholic Church, the Rev. Leonard Voytek, celebrant. Committal, St. Charles Cemetery, Twin Rocks.  Military Rites by Nanty Glo, Twin Rocks, and Vintondale Ritual Team.  Donations in John’s memory may be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church or to the Knights of Columbus.  Condolences may be left for the family at

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Visitation (masks recommended)

2:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Askew-Houser Funeral Homes, Inc
1310 Shoemaker Street
Nanty Glo , Pennsylvania, United States
(814) 749-7400

Funeral Mass (masks recommended)

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Friday, October 15, 2021
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
1020 Caroline Street
Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania, United States


St. Charles Cemetery
Cemetery Road
Twin Rocks, Pennsylvania, United States
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John Kupchella,Sr.

In Loving Memory

John Kupchella,Sr.

1925 - 2021

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