DUBLIN — Elizabeth “Betty” Helen Terpak, 95, passed away in the comfort of hospice on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, at Sanctuary at Tuttle Crossing, Dublin, a Columbus suburb where her daughter, Betty Minnie, lived nearby. She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 65 years, Robert “Bob” Joseph Terpak, in February 2016 at age 89.
Betty was born in Youngstown, on Nov. 12, 1925, as one of 10 daughters to John and Helen Phillips Gonda. Her mother used strips of blue yarn (Betty’s favorite color) sewn into the garments of each sister to identify Betty, along with nine other yarn colors, one for each of her amazing and beautiful sisters.
Betty was a graduate of East High School class of 1943, and it is likely that most high schoolers on the East Side during those years knew at least one of the Gonda girls. By that summer’s end, to help the war effort, she began study through the Cadet Nurse Program at the Youngstown Hospital School of Nursing, graduating with 83 others in 1946. She started her nursing career at North Side Hospital and then went to South Side Hospital as head nurse, ward nurse and supervisor, eventually retiring in 1988. She demonstrated her caring and loving nature to all patients as well as family.
Bob and Betty married in 1950 after a couple of years dating / courting and passing grandpa Gonda’s prerequisite interview process. After all, grandpa was a Youngstown police officer for 22 years and got surprisingly good at how to scrutinize all those men interested in his 10 daughters. After Bob’s military commitment, his interest in photography grew, with Betty jokingly becoming his beautiful foreground object. As witness … her yearbook quote, “the girl who has pretty blue eyes, causes many a boy to give out with sighs.”
As devout Catholics, Bob and Betty became lifelong and founding members of St. Christine Parish, close to their West Side home. They attended early gatherings and Masses that began at the Pioneer Pavilion in Mill Creek Park and Idora Park in the early 1950s. All five of their children attended St. Christine Elementary School and Ursuline High School.
Both avid gardeners, Betty helped maintain the church gardens and landscaping. Along with her perpetual love of flowers and masterful green thumb, their home and vegetable garden were always surrounded by flourishing flowers, herbs and plantings.
Betty’s many interests and activities included past president of Infant of Prague Organization, Girl Scout leader, and Campfire Girls sponsor, along with Brownie and Cub Scout den mother. She was VP of the Altar Society, church council member, annual church raffle chairman, social chairman for Catholic Nurses Association and lifetime member of Youngstown Hospital Nurses Alumni Association. She was also a longtime member of the “Kirkmere Cuties” card club, high school reunion committee member and connected with various other nursing affiliations.
In terms of family, friends, church, groups, clubs, neighbors and causes, one would be hard pressed to come across a more altruistic pairing than this talented and loving couple. Of the five siblings or grandchildren, it is difficult to remember a single childhood or adult interest that went unconsidered if not fully supported, regardless of the means to accomplish such ideas or wishes. Truly the best parents one could ever hope for!
Besides her parents, Betty was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Terpak, whom she married May 13, 1950; and five sisters, Thelma Corcoran of Oregon, Ethel Jones of Colorado, Madge Kincaid of New Mexico, Anne Mae Thompson of Arizona and Bertha Macko of New York.
She is survived by four sisters, Theresa Vukovich of Arizona, Mary Haggerty of Maryland, Kay Strok of California and Patty Antram of New Mexico; five children, Betty Minnie of Columbus, Robert Terpak of Lexington Park, Md., David (Kathy Manhollan) Terpak of Youngstown, Don (Lori) Terpak of Youngstown and Christine (Nick) Pannunzio of New Market, Md.; six grandchildren, Lauren, Michelle and Matthew Terpak, Tracy Minnie, and Angela and Nicholas Pannunzio; and two great-grandchildren, Ruby and Violet Terpak.
A Mass of Catholic burial will be held Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at 10 a.m. at St. Christine Church.
After Mass, Betty will be privately laid to rest next to her husband in Calvary Cemetery.
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