Raymond "Gabby" Burkhardt, 74, of Export, died Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, following a brief illness.
He was born Nov. 21, 1938, in Pittsburgh, a son of the late Francis and Grace (Kelly) Burkhardt.
Gabby was the epitome of life itself. He knew how to live and how to love. He was always busy with one of his projects or helping someone else. He loved to share his magic and delighted in the wonderment of it all. He made us all believe. His numerous stories and jokes could always light up a room. He would look forward to winter and the first snowfall so he could go snowmobiling.
He would always put others' needs ahead of his own just to make them smile. He has touched so many lives. He truly had a special knack for making everyone feel welcome. He was a man of great faith and used this as his moral compass.
He lived for his grandkids, all 15 of them. He was the "World's Best Pappy" to Michael, Alex and Ryan Granche', Sydney, Logan and Ben Hoffman, Ian, Cole and Leah Burkhardt, and Jack, Sam, Emily, Joe, Kurt and Valentyn Wolfe.
Prior to retiring, Ray was a home builder. He was a member of St. John's in Delmont, Marienville Trail Riders' Snowmobile Club, St. Marys Snowmobile Club, Snow Seekers Club, the Fur, Fin & Feather Hunting Club, Ridgway Elks Club #872, Ridgway VFW, Three Rivers Model "A" Restorers Club, Woodworkers of Western PA., "The Wizards of Woz" magic group. He was also a card-carrying member of the BSP.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his first wife of 29 years, Daryl (Etzel) Burkhardt; three brothers and three sisters, Francis "Peck" Burkhardt, Mary Conner, Ann Louise "Lulu" Burkhardt, Irmina "Kinky" Thompson, Regis "Poochie" Burkhardt and Richard "Dick" Burkhardt.
Ray will be greatly missed by his loving family. He is survived by his wife of almost 19 years, Loreena "Renee" (Zoric) Burkhardt; his children, Gigi Granche' and her husband, Craig, of Warrenton, Va., Nancy Hoffman and her husband, Mark, of St. Marys, Joe Burkhardt and his wife, Jackie, of Towson, Md., Janet Wolfe and her husband, Ken, of St. Marys; a step-daughter, Loree Zoric and her husband, Tim O'Toole, of Pittsburgh; a brother, Eugene "Bozie" Burkhardt and his wife, Dolores, of Crystal Spring; and countless friends and relatives.
A funeral Mass for Ray will be celebrated at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, 4200 Old William Penn Hwy., Murrysville, Pa, 15668, with Father David Nazimek of St. Regis Catholic Church, Trafford. Everyone is asked to please meet at the church. A memorial service for Ray will be held in the Ridgway area at a time and date to be announced.
Interment will follow in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont.
Family and friends will be received from 6-8 p.m. Thursday and 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Friday at the Vaia Funeral Home, Inc., 463 Athena Dr., Delmont, (724) 468-1177.
As an expression of sympathy, contributions in Ray's memory may be made to Family House, 5001 Baum Blvd., Suite 545, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, or to an organization of your choice. Please write "Ray Burkhardt" on check memo line.
To send online expressions of sympathy, obtain grief support information or directions, please visit www.VaiaFuneralHome.com .