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1933 Steve 2024

Steve Marcinko

October 24, 1933 — January 12, 2024

Brevard, North Carolina

Stephen Charles Marcinko, of Brevard, N.C., passed away at his home on January 12, 2024, at the age of 90. A native of Brownstown, a borough near the City of Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa., he was the son of the late Mary Homeyak and Frank Marcinko. Growing up the son of a miner and a homemaker, early in his life Steve attended Catholic schools and then Ferndale High School, where he showed talent as an all-around athlete in track and field and football. He was recruited by a number of colleges and chose to attend the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on a football scholarship where he played offensive tackle and was also a member of the track team. During his college years, he met a nursing student who became the love of his life and future wife, Dorothy (Dottie) McKee Kizer, of Brevard, N.C. Following graduation from UNC Chapel Hill, Steve joined the Air Force, and he and Dottie were married soon after in Brevard, on August 3, 1956.  

They moved to Florida where Steve began pilot training and discovered the thrill of flying, a consummate joy that remained with him to the end of his life. The ensuing years brought three children—Cathy, Frank and Carrie—into their lives during tours in Texas and at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. The next assignment was at John Connally Air Force base in Waco, Texas, where Steve distinguished himself by landing a Lockheed T-33 jet that had blown its engine at 26,000 feet, gliding 140 miles to a safe landing in Fort Smith, Ark. While stationed in Saigon, Vietnam, he was assigned to fly General Westmorland and other dignitaries from base to base. For his service, he received The Air Medal (1966-1967), The Bronze Star Medal (1966-1967) and eventually, The Meritorious Service Medal (1974-1976). Returning home, he was assigned to teach ROTC at Auburn University where Dottie secured a position as reference librarian, having completed a master’s degree in library science.  

Dottie and Steve enjoyed their lives in a small college town and the Tarheel sweethearts eventually became avid Auburn fans. A very special four-year overseas tour followed at Upper Heyford RAF Base in England, where the family lived off-base in the Cotswalds villages of Bloxham and Middleton Cheney. While Steve oversaw the airfield operations at Upper Heyford, the children attended English schools, and Dottie eventually secured a civil service job as base librarian. The family enjoyed trips throughout England and the continent, including memorable vacations in Austria and Greece. Returning stateside, Steve’s final assignment was at Peterson Air Field Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they lived in the shadow of Pikes Peak in the small town of Woodland Park. Retiring after 20 exciting and rewarding years, Steve and Dottie chose to return to the Auburn area, where they purchased and restored an 1840s farmhouse on Saugahatchee Creek near the historic town of Loachapoka, Ala.   

An avid gardener and outdoorsman who fished and hunted, Steve volunteered in the community heading up smoked turkey fundraisers using his own hand-constructed double-sided smoker grill in Loachapoka to benefit the Auburn Civitan Club and helping with construction of Habitat for Humanity homes. Dottie returned to full-time employment as an acquisitions librarian at Auburn University working her way up to head the department. Meanwhile, Steve took carpentry classes at the local community college, restored and added on to the farmhouse, built chimneys, dug a large basement and picked, canned and cooked vegetables from the garden. He later recounted with enjoyment fending off a trifecta of venomous snakes on the way for a swim in the pond, and observing hatching turtles, grazing deer and other wildlife around the family home, raising several generations of dalmatians (Hannah and son Beau), growing bushels of shiitake mushrooms, socializing with friends at football games and taking trips abroad with Dottie. Around 2008 they made a decision to move back to Dottie’s childhood home at 538 East Main Street in Brevard. Before moving in, they renovated the historic 1909 house and then lived there happily while attending St. Phillips Episcopal Church and welcoming visiting children, grandchildren, relatives and friends. 

Steve’s loving survivors include his wife Dottie and his children and their spouses, Carrie Marcinko and Perry Welch of Millington, Tenn., Frank and Suze Marcinko of Seabeck, Wash., and Cathy Marcinko of Brevard, and three grandchildren: Maggie Welch, Lottie Rich and Ellis Rich; and one very lucky, adoring beagle, named Buddy. He is also survived by two sisters, Dorothy Kedves and Mary Ann Janosko. Steve had a genuine love of music, and fondly recalled his aunts singing Polish and Czech songs and carols as a child in Brownstown. He was able to see his sisters and other cherished relatives who came to celebrate his 90th birthday on October 24, 2023. 

In addition to his parents, Steve was preceded in death by his older brother, Thomas Marcinko and his nephew, Thomas Marcinko, Jr.  The memorial service for Steve will be held at 2 p.m. on April 6, 2024, at St. Phillips Episcopal Church, followed by a private family burial. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Habitat for Humanity or St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church. 

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