American Veteran 01

Stephen N. Major

August 17, 1920 ~ June 6, 2022 (age 101)

Obituary

Stephen N. Major, Sr., 101, of Monessen, Pa., died on June 6, 2022. Born on August 17, 1920. Steve was the fourth of five children raised in Monessen by his Croatian immigrant parents, Frank and Mary (Yakovac) Major.  After high school in 1938, “Big Steve,” who at 6’6”, enlisted in the U.S. Army and Air Force for seven years, including service in World War II.  After basic training at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, he was assigned to the Sixth Field Artillery, a unit that used horse-drawn caissons to move field artillery. He signed up to go to Panama, serving at Fort Amador, where he was discharged from in late November 1941. But within days, Steve stepped up again to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which was previously the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army between 1926 and 1941. After spending time in the state of California training new recruits on the basics of military life, Steve was shipped aboard the Queen Mary on Sept. 5,1942, to England. His unit participated in the invasion of North Africa at Oran. He was an armament man whose job was to make sure the bombs were loaded properly while ensuring the accuracy of the weapons on the aircrafts he skillfully manned. Steve and his 47th Bomb Group participated in the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, Malta and the invasion of Sicily in 1943, attached to the British Eighth Army. He also participated in the invasions of Naples and Corsica and was assigned to go to the Pacific when the war ended. Upon his return, he played an integral part in the construction of the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) at the former Pittsburgh Steel’s Monessen Plant. His military service was the subject a column written by famed World War II correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men,” a collection of Pyle’s newspaper columns from 1943 and 1944, in which he details the fighting in Europe primarily from the perspective of the average U.S G.I.. Steve began working as a plumber's apprentice while still in high school and was a member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. He worked as a master plumber for 20 years, then served as a maintenance foreman for Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel’s management team for another 20 years. He spent his post-mill days returning full-time to plumbing, and finally gave his wrench a much-needed break while still in his prime at 85. Steve served as past president and former board member of the Mon Valley Sewage Authority from 1981 through 2010. He was active on the statewide level, as a Region 9 director for the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA) from 1991 through 1994 and assistant director from 1988 through 2001. He was elected as PMAA’s statewide president in 1999 and was honored by PMAA with the prestigious 2013 William H. Markus Award of Excellence. In addition to his parents and siblings, Steve was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 44 years, Jean (Craddock) Major, who died on September 9, 1999, and four siblings, Patrick, George, Frank and Anna. Left to cherish his memory are his four children: Robin (Bob) Betza of Richland Township, Pa.; Christy (Paul) Tippet of Adams Township, Pa.; Stephen N. Major, Jr. (former daughter-in-law Colleen) of Monessen; and Meg Major (Chris Cunius) of Cranberry Twp. and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He will also be deeply missed by his eight grandchildren and the apples of his eyes: Kelly (Eric) Cheponis of Mars, Pa.; Bryan Tippet of Longboat Key, Fla.; Maura (Dale) Walker of Slippery Rock, Pa.; Rob Betza of Pittsburgh; Stephen (Maureen) Major III of Akron, Ohio; Patrick (Madison) Major of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Caitlin Major of Monessen; Kevin Cunius of Johns Island, S.C.; and great grandchildren Elle and Brigit Cheponis and Duke and Molly Walker. Steve will also be fondly remembered by his numerous nieces and nephews, including Mary Jane Byron and Georgianna Robinson, and sisters-in-law Maureen McClelland, Margaret Whalen and Virginia (Vince) DeGrano.  Steve was a member of the American Legion (Thomas McKee Post), Elks Lodge 773, the Croatian Fraternal Union and Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church. He was also active in local politics, his church and community his entire life and began attending national WWII 47th Bomb Group reunions beginning in 1979. Friends will be received on Friday, June 10 from 3:00 pm. to 8:00 pm in the Robert A. Billick Funeral Home Inc. Grand Blvd & Marion Ave. Monessen. Services will begin in the funeral home on Sat., June 11, with a blessing service at 9:30 am followed by a funeral Mass at 10:00 am in Epiphany of our Lord Church 44 Pennsylvania Blvd Monessen.  Entombment will follow in Grandview Cemetery.  The family kindly suggests the optional use of masks and social distancing while attending the funeral services and visitation. Monessen Elks Lodge 773 will conduct their service at 6pm on Friday Monessen Legion Post 28 will conduct their service at 6:30 pm on Friday. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Steve's pet project that he helped pioneer: The Monessen War Memorial Trust, P.O. Box 145, Monessen, PA 15062, or to Epiphany of Our Lord parish, Monessen, Pa. Online condolences can be made at billicksfuneralhome.com. The Major family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the teams at Hallsworth House, St. Barnibas Health System and OSPTA Hospice, all of whom made us graciously aware that not all heroes wear capes.

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Services

Visitation
Friday
June 10, 2022

3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Robert A. Billick Funeral Home, Inc.
1415 Marion Avenue
Monessen, PA 15062

Blessing Service
Saturday
June 11, 2022

9:30 AM
Robert A. Billick Funeral Home, Inc.
1415 Marion Avenue
Monessen, PA 15062

Funeral Mass
Saturday
June 11, 2022

10:00 AM
Epipany of Our Lord Church
44 Pennsylvania Blvd.
Monessen , PA. 15062

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