Thomas John Opeka, 81, of the Oregon Section of Pittston City passed away unexpectedly and peacefully at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital on Wednesday July 11, 2018. He fought courageously with his battle with diabetes for several years. His wife was the former Margaret “Peggy” McColligan of Scranton. They were married for 56 years.
Born March 11, 1937 in Forest City, Suquehanna County and later lived in Vandling, Lackawanna County, he was the Son of the late Frank C. Opeka and Albina Chodorowski Opeka He was a 1954 graduate of Forest City H.S., were he excelled in academics, basketball and theater. Upon graduation, Thomas enlisted into The United States Marine Corps serving from 1954 – 1957 attaining the rank of Sergeant. Thomas was assigned for three years with I Co., 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.. Thomas served as an infantryman, demolition expert and Instructor of Amphibious Assault Training for Midshipman of the U.S. Naval Academy, Cherry Point, N.C.. Thomas was a Korean War Era Veteran and bears witness while board naval warships to aid in the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. His decorations are as follows: National Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, and Expert Rifleman.
With faithful service and Honorable Discharge to his Country, Thomas received the GI Bill of Rights and graduated from East Stroudsburg State College in 1961 with a B.S Degree in Education (Math Emphasis) and Teaching Certificate from the Commonwealth of Pa.. Upon graduation, Thomas was a Math teacher for six years at the Lehighton Area School District and started raising his young family in Carbon County.
With an opportunity to advance his education and help his family. Thomas was selected by The National Science Foundation with an Endowment to proceed with further higher education at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. (State College). The endowment was presented to all Math and Science Teachers throughout the USA, who qualified, to promote further advancements of science and math to gain supremacy over the Soviet Union.
With his endowment, Thomas moved his family to Pittston in 1967, where he was accepted as a teacher in the new Wyoming Area SD to oversee all math within the District as Department Chairman 1967-1991. During that period, Thomas and Margaret would move their young family to State College for six years during the summer in order for Tom to obtain his Master’s Degree, which was accomplished with emphasis in Calculus and Fortran (computer programming). Thomas was well liked amongst his Students for his fairness and love of mathematics. He was deemed by many students as “Captain Calculus!” who are now professional Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers etc. for his dedication for the youth and success of AMERICA! in which he truly believed in.
Thomas was also a member of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus (JFK association Pittston) and Holy Name Society of his community and church.
Besides the passing of his late parents, Slovenian and Polish Americans, Thomas was preceded in death by his older brother Frank, Infant sister Mary and Son & Law Joseph R. Zaffuto. Surviving family members are as follows: John F. Opeka (Brother) Niantic Ct., Tommy and Catherine (Piedmont) Opeka Pittston, Stephen Patrick and Michele Ann (Hozlock) Opeka Wyoming, Mary Ellen (Opeka) Zaffuto with Brandon & Kolton Suscon, Pittston Twp., many nieces and nephews.
Thomas loved his family very much, enjoyed his garden of tomatoes, picking mushrooms in the woods, history, taking his children on the opening day of trout season, vacations to New England on the beach and grandchildren.
The Opeka Family would like to thank the following Doctors for Thomas’s care during his time of need: Michalene Torbik DO, Alfonso Rodriguez MD, Jaun DeRojas MD, Jeffery D’Andrea MD, William Prebola MD and David Scalzo DPM.
Funeral services will be Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 9:30am from Adonizio Funeral Home, LLC, 251 William St., Pittston, Pa. with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. in St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church, Pittston. Rev. Joseph P. Elston will officiate. Interment to follow in Catherdral Cemetery, Scranton, Pa. Friends may call Monday July 16, 2018 from 5pm to 8pm at the funeral home.