AUSTIN, Texas — Andrew "Andy" Yelenosky passed away Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, surrounded by his loving family.
"Andy" was the consummate family man — as a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
A member of "The Greatest Generation," he persevered through the Depression and the Second World War.
Andy's parents had emigrated separately from the same Slovak region, passed through Ellis Island and later met, married and settled in a small coal mining town outside of Pittsburgh.
Andy was one of seven children. Like his siblings, his first language was Slovak, which he spoke with his father and mother until their deaths.
During World War II
when he was 17, Andy joined the U.S. Navy
and served at sea on the USS Carpellotti. On a recording he made on ship for his family, from his tone and reticence, you can hear that he was just a boy.
After the war, like many of his generation, he returned home and went to work doing what his father had done — coal mining. He left the mines early enough that the work left no scars on him. But his next job did leave a scar, and, at the same time, gave him an opportunity.
Working a metal punch press, Andy lost part of a finger. The injury gave him both the incentive and the means to better himself. With the $800 in workers compensation he received, he bought a car. With that and the GI Bill paying his tuition, he started night school at the University of Pittsburgh to earn a Bachelor of Science in geology, which became his life's profession.
Working for the U.S. Geological Survey, he met and married a beautiful, bright young lady from central Pennsylvania, Catherine "Kitty" Bianchini. She was the love of his life, and he was wholly devoted to her. Their life together with their children was remarkably comfortable and full of joy.
As a child of poverty raising children of plenty, he often delighted them with his frugality.
When a hurricane came through and the power failed, his son-in-law grabbed a flashlight, which provoked Andy to chastise him, "Don't use that; it's for emergencies!"
Presenting steaks he had grilled, he noted, "Do you know what you'd have to pay for this in a restaurant?"
To his children, he often expressed disapproval with a Slovak expression or with one of his own invention, "This is reaching the point of ridicularity."
With the gift of a great sense of humor, Andy would entertain his family by breaking into a silly song or dance.
It is a testament to his gentleness that, looking back, his children remember even his rather strict discipline as slightly amusing.
Though of his generation, Andy was remarkably forward looking on matters of race and human rights. Certainly some of that came from his father, who bravely defended his and his fellow miners' labor rights even when the consequences were physical violence and exclusion from the mine.
Andy and Kitty involved themselves in their church and gave of themselves to their community. Both were very active in the local Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
Andy is survived by his wife, Kitty Yelenosky; his children, Diane and her husband, Don Spinelli, Debbie and her husband, Jeff Peterson, Stephen Yelenosky and his wife, Jill McRae, Mary and her husband, Steve Knight, and Michael Yelenosky; his brother, George and his wife, Carlotta; a sister-in-law, Estelle; 11 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, 2 stepgrandsons, and four stepgreat-grandchildren.
YELENOSKY — Andrew Yelenosky, of Austin, Texas. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday , at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church, Austin, Texas. Recitation of the Rosary will be said at 7 p.m. Sunday at Beck Funeral Home, 15709 Ranch Road 620, Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Andy's name to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at namiaustin.org.