The Life of Robert S Sr. Barko
YOUNGSTOWN – Robert Stephen Barko Sr., 79, “peacefully left us here on earth to go bowling with the angels” and be with his family in heaven on April 24, 2014.
Known as Bob to his friends, he was born in Youngstown, on Feb. 18, 1935, to the late Stephen Barko of Battyan, Hungary and the late Anne (Cherney) Barko of Youngstown.
Bob was a life-long resident of the Mahoning Valley. As a teenager, he stocked root beer stands at Idora Park and later graduated from Chaney High School in 1953, where he was a state mile champion in track and field. As a young man, he worked in the city’s steel mills and was a “Sea Bee” diver with the U.S. Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of Utilities Man Third Class. His ports of call included Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, and he once sailed through a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea on a destroyer during his tour of duty.
After his military duty, he was a diver for the National Wildlife Federation and the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department and was a member of the area’s legendary “Daffy Divers.” Following his diving days, Bob was the proverbial “jack of all trades,” spending long term stints as a car salesman at State Chevrolet in Youngstown, as the president and operator of a B-Dry Systems waterproofing franchise in Greentree, Pa. and as an asbestos removal specialist for Innerscope in Youngstown. He also used his skills as a plumber, pipe-fitter and carpenter to work as an independent contractor under the name “R-Bar” well into his retirement years.
He was deeply proud of his Hungarian heritage, especially his family’s role in founding and staying involved with Our Lady of Hungary Church on the city’s west side. Bob was a gifted storyteller and had a great sense of humor, relating tales of his youth and local history to his family and friends. In years past, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and watching “a good western or war picture,” especially John Wayne movies. Over the past 15 years, he enjoyed having a “pop” with his buddies at the Austintown Eagles, the Saxon Club on Meridian Road and the Catholic War Vets on Steel Street.
Like Frank Sinatra, he lived his life the way he wanted and did everything “his way.” While many may not have understood the man, those close to him knew he loved them, appreciated them and was proud of their efforts, even though he didn’t always say it directly to them.
Besides his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his infant sister, Blanche; his brother, Gene; his foster brother, John Miller; and his son, Stephen Richard Barko. He will also join many beloved uncles, aunts, cousins and life-long friends for a “hunky bacon fry in the sky.”
Left to celebrate his life and cherish his memory are his children, by his marriage to the former Geraldine Rose Brienza, Bob Barko Jr. and Kerry Kristine Geraci as; well as his son-in-law, Tony Geraci; daughter-in-law, Deana Barko; and his grandson, Nicholas Geraci. He also leaves his long-time loving companion, Veronica “Ronnie” Mangianetti; her daughter, Danielle Bendel and son-in-law, Scott and their children, Allie and McKenzie Bendel. “Uncle Racko” as they called him, will also be fondly remembered by his niece, Beth Barko and his nephews, Paul and Tom Barko and his cousin, Judy Jones. Bob will also be sadly missed by many friends and business associates, whom he came to know over his 79 years of life.
His children would like to thank the staff at the St. Elizabeth Cardiac Intensive Care and the Progressive Intermediate Care Units in Youngstown, especially, Phil, one of his nurses who truly went above and beyond. They would also like to thank Dr. Santuccio Ricciardi and the staff at Vibra Care Hospital in Boardman. Your care and compassion made “Dad’s” last days as comfortable as possible.
On April 29, 2014, family and friends may pay their respects from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Szabo & Sons Funeral Home, 1360 Fifth Ave., Youngstown.
On April 30, 2014, there will be a memorial service at the funeral home at 10 a.m. A Mass of Catholic Burial will follow at 10.30 a.m. at St. Stephen of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, 854 Wilson Ave., Youngstown.
Bob will then be laid to eternal rest at noon, with full military honors rendered by American Legion Post 540 Trumbull County Honor Guard at Green Haven Memorial Gardens, 3495 South Canfield-Niles Road, Canfield