Franciszek Karpinski Sr. was born on September 1, 1885 in Micewskie, Russian Poland to Blazeja Karpinski and Maryanna Wolkiewiczow. Franciszek immigrated at the age of 13. His son, Francis Jr., "Karpy" thinks that his father had an older brother waiting for him.
Julia Tomaszewski was born in Pennsylvania to Andrew Tomaszewski and was one of a family of nine. The other children were Joe, Andy, who later changed his name to Andy Thomas, John, Laura, Frank, Gus, Leo, and Mary.
Francis married Julia Tomaszewski in Allegheny County on April 29, 1913. Their marriage is recorded in Volume 86, page 56 of the Allegheny County Marriage License Docket. Because Julia was only 17 at the time, her mother, Maryanna, gave her consent.
Francis and Julia were living at 205 South Main Street in Sharpsburg over their grocery store in 1920. At the time Frank was 31, Julia was 24, Frank Jr. was 5, and Leo was an infant. Also in the household were Frank's sister-in-law, Mary, then 24, with her husband Steven Kalkowsky, 25, and their son John, 1 year old. Frank Sr.'s occupation is listed as proprietor of a grocery store. Source: 1920 Federal Census for Allegheny County, Enumeration District 801, page 3.
Frank continued to run his "Mom and Pop" store until it was ruined by the stock market crash. Afterwards he worked on the 62nd Street Bridge which was wooden at the time. Frank and Julia had four children: Karpy, the oldest, born on May 5, 1914, Leo, who ran "Karpy's Bar" in Sharpsburg, Clara, and Martha, a graduate of St. Francis Medical Center School of Nursing.
Karpy grew up in Sharpsburg and attended a Polish church where he was an altar boy. He remembers that the children would get in trouble if the priest caught them speaking English during recess. Karpy married Rita Kelly, the third daughter of John J. Kelly and Marie Dickert. Karpy and Rita were married at St. Lawrence O'Toole Church on Atlantic Avenue on July 3, 1941. Karpy was a bus driver for 37 years, and is now retired.
Rita says she doesn't like to listen to war stories, but Karpy loves to tell them, and we love to listen. Karpy received a write-up in the November/December 1999 issue of the newsletter that reported on the Passavant Retirement Community in Zelienople where he and Rita live. The article was titled "Veterans Honored," and read as follows:
At Passavant when the conversation strays toward military service, one particular name almost always comes up. Frank Karpinski, part of the second division army infantry, was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, Frank remembers it as the most astonishing day of his life. He describes bullets whizzing by, sometimes a foot from his head, and wondering which one had his name on it. After being hit with shrapnel, he spent three days at the field hospital and then returned to his outfit.This picture shows Karpy in front of his plaque in the Soldier's and Sailors' Hall of Valor.
Frank was awarded his Silver Star after he took charge of 36 men in his platoon when their lieutenant was killed. Seeing the men in shock, Frank managed to rally them to complete their mission. He typically downplays the honor by saying, "They had a lot of Silver Stars left over so they just gave me one." In addition, Frank was awarded the European and Eastern African Medal with two oak leaf clusters and a combat infantry badge. His division was responsible for the eventual capture of 25,000 enemy soldiers.
Frank and Rita have one son, Kenny, born on November 4, 1947, shown here with his parents. Kenny attended Point Park College. He was a local radio personality as he explains,
I got my first radio job at WEEP (Pittsburgh, PA) in the mid 60's. I used the name Ken Long on the air while at WEEP. I worked at WJPA (Washington, PA) in 1970-71 using the name Kenny Lee on the air. Perhaps my most "famous" work in Pittsburgh radio was at WDVE, which was owned by ABC when I worked there. I was originally hired by WDVE as morning personality and Production Director in 1971. I used the name Ken Spector on the air. In 1972 I was promoted to Program Director. Since WDVE was a union station and I was promoted to a management position, I had to give up my on-air position. After doing so I used my legal name, Ken Karpinski, during the rest of my tenure at WDVE. That was the only time in my long radio career that I used my given legal name. When I moved to Fort Lauderdale in the mid-70's, I reverted to using the name Kenny Lee, which is actually my first and middle name. I worked for over ten years at WAXY in Fort Lauderdale-Miami doing on-air work and also programming the station. Today [December, 2000] I work for Radio Computing Services in White Plains, New York. RCS, as the company is best known, is a worldwide company headquartered in White Plains. We created and market the world-famous Selector music scheduling software. I am currently the Product Manager of Selector. RCS specializes in computer systems for the broadcasting and Internet radio industries.Kenny married Suzanne Landry on July 4, 1987. Kenny and Suzanne, now divorced, have one son, Matthew, born on February 19, 1993.
Frank Karpinski, Jr., died in 2004. His obituary was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on 1/25/2004:
Age 89, of Zelienople, on Thurs., January 22, 2004; beloved husband of Rita E. Karpinski; son of Kenneth L. Karpinski of Brewster, NY; brother of Leo G. Karpinski, Martha Karpinski & Clara Dotchin; grandfather of Matthew J. Karpinski. Friends will be received 2-4 & 7-9 pm Sunday at BOYLAN FUNERAL HOME, INC. 324 E. Grandview Ave., Zelienople, 724-452-8005. Mass of Christian Burial 10 am Monday at St. Gregory Roman Catholic Church, 2 West Beaver Street, Zelienople. Entombment North Side Catholic Cemetery, Ross Twp.
Copyright © 2000-2007 Nancy McAdams
May 9, 2000
Last update March 14, 2007
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