Dr. John Regis "Jack" Smelko (1948 - 2015)

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  • "Thank You to all that have been so supportive at this..."
    - Peggy (Smelko) Chism
  • "Marlene, I am so sorry for your loss, I pray that you and..."
    - Lou Sauppe
  • "To the Smelko family, I send my sympathies. To Marlene and..."
    - Lou Calgaro
  • "Marlene, my deepest sympathy goes out to you & your family...."
    - Barbara Hawk
  • "It's not often you hear, "I had a great time at the dentist..."
    - Janice Cowher Russo
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Dr. John "Jack" Regis "Rege" Smelko, 67, of Punxsutawney, passed away unexpectedly following a tragic accident at home on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.
Dr. Smelko was born on Jan. 24, 1948, in Punxsutawney, the only son of the late Regis Edmund and Bertha (Notarian) Smelko. Dr. Smelko married his dear wife Loretta Ann (Anderlonis) on April 23, 1977. Loretta survives.
Dr. Smelko was a life-long resident of Punxsutawney, graduating from Punxsutawney High School in 1965. He then graduated from the Bordentown Military Institute and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh for Army ROTC. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in 1974 and subsequently returned to Punxsutawney to practice dentistry in the community he grew up in and loved.
For those who knew Dr. Smelko, they all would agree that he was one-of-a kind. He was a generous, kind-hearted man who epitomized character, integrity, and tenacity. He had a great sense of humor, loved to laugh and always saw the best in people. In his professional career, Dr. Smelko practiced in Indiana, DuBois and Punxsutawney, where he retired on Aug. 1, 2015, after 41 years of serving the greater Punxsutawney community. He was also the Punxsutawney School District dentist for the majority of his career.
Dr. Smelko was well-published in his vocation, having authored and contributed to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles for the dental profession. However, his crowning achievement was the honor of having written a chapter in "A Cup of Coffee With 12 Leading Dentists in the United States," which was an Amazon best seller. Despite Dr. Smelko's many contributions toward the advancement of dentistry, he was quite humble and attributed his success to his family, his colleagues and his patients.
Although he had a very busy and rewarding career, Dr. Jack prioritized his family. He prized tailgating at college football games, working on his farm, landscaping and spending time outdoors with Loretta. He was a collector of rocks, feathers, lapel pins and hats as mementos along his life's journey. He was a staunch Pitt Football fan, an avid fly fisherman, an amusing conversationalist and served on the Punxsutawney Sports Hall of Fame Committee. He especially enjoyed "shooting-the-breeze" with his friends at Sheetz.
In keeping with his lifelong craving to learn, he was a voracious reader, prized the History Channel and sports trivia and had a great appreciation for music. His favorite band was "The Who." He started each day by saying the Memorae.
Dr. Jack took on many community projects with his friends. Perhaps their greatest achievement was the rebuilding of the Number 8 Road spring with rocks from all over the world. Doc's mantra was "For the Betterment of my Family and my Community." These were more than words, they were selfless acts. He lived by the credo, "If you always do right, you can't go wrong."
In addition to his wife and soulmate, Loretta, Dr. Smelko is survived by three children. His sons are John Sebastian Smelko and his wife, Heather, of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Alex Anderlonis Smelko of Colorado. His daughter is Adrianne Noel Smelko of California. He is also survived by five sisters: Mary Martha Baumgartner of Florida, Patricia Ann Manco and her husband, Frank, of Punxsutawney, "the twins" Marlene Merkle and Maureen Baltzer and her husband, Doug, all of Siesta Key, Florida, and Peggy Chism and husband, Allan Gillman, of Long Beach, California. Dr. Smelko is also survived by a beautiful grandchild, Vivienne James Smelko.
Friends will be received from 2-7 p.m. today, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at the Shumaker Funeral Home, Inc. of Punxsutawney. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, at Saints Cosmas & Damien Catholic Church and officiated by the Rev. Monsignor Rocardo and the Rev. Monsignor Gerald Ritchey, who married Jack and Loretta in 1977.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dr. Smelko's memory to Wounded Warrior Project or Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (211 E. Chicago Ave, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60611).
Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery in Punxsutawney.
Online condolences may be made at www.shumakerfh.com
Funeral Home
Shumaker Funeral Home Inc
115 E Union St
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
(814) 938-5421
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Published in The Courier Express from Sept. 20 to Sept. 21, 2015