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Vernon Cornelius
'Dutch' Van Dyke


Vernon Cornelius "Dutch" Van Dyke was born on Nov. 5, 1899, the son of Samuel Aaron and Bertha Mae (Minerd) Van Dyke. 

He was named in part after his grandfather, Civil War veteran John Vernon Smith Minerd. When required to register for the military draft during World War I, the 18-year-old Vernon declared that he resided in Hunker, Westmoreland county, and was employed by Thomas Fish as a coal miner at the McCoy Mine at nearby Foxtown, PA. He stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 140 lbs.

On March 24, 1920, when he was 20 years of age, Vernon eloped to Cumberland, MD to marry 17-year-old Pearl Rebecca Felgar (Nov. 13, 1902-1996), daughter of William A. and Clara Felgar.

They together produced a brood of five children -- Betty Jane Gordon, Clara Mae Stefanic, Vernon Victor "Buck" Van Dyke, Samuel Allen Van Dyke and Naomi Pauline Zezek McNeal.

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1930, Vernon made a living as a coal miner in or near Hunker.

By 1940, coming out of the grip of the Great Depression, Vernon earned income as a mechanic with a transit company. The Van Dykes continued to make a home next to their Trout relatives in Hunker.

Vernon's work in the public transit sphere continued in 1941-1950 with him employed as a bus driver for Penn Transit Company's Greensburg Division. In November 1948, he received a five-year service award from his employer, announced on the pages of the Greensburg Daily Review.

The couple remained in Hunker for the balance of their lives.

Vernon passed away in Jan. 1986.

Pearl survived her husband by a decade. She succumbed on April 4, 1996.

~ Daughter Betty Jane (Van Dyke) Gordon/Gordan ~

Daughter Betty Jane Van Dyke (1920-2021) was born on Dec. 1, 1920. 

On June 10, 1942, when she was 21 years of age, she was united in matrimony with William Uriah "Bill" Gordon (Dec. 4, (?) - ? ), also spelled "Gordan."

Two known offspring of this union were Michael Gordon and Patricia Gordon.

As of 1945, the family is believed to have lived in or near Cincinnati, OH. Then circa 1949, the Gordans made their residence in Lawton, OK. That year, their son Michael was given a fourth birthday party at the home of his grandparents in Foxtown. The happy event was featured in the Greensburg Daily Tribune.

Her home in 1994-2021 was in Taylors, SC. She held a membership in the Lee Road United Methodist Church.

Betty marked her 100th birthday on Dec. 1, 2020.

Betty was gathered away by the angel of death at the age of 101 on Dec. 14, 2021 as a resident of Rainey Hospice House in Anderson, SC. An obituary in the Greenville News said that her "wishes were to not have a formal service, music or viewing. She 'just wants to finally rest next to her husband, Bill'."

Son Michael Alan "Mike" Gordon (1945-2020) was born on April 15, 1945 in Cincinnati and spent his early years in Lawton, OK and at other military bases in the country. His family in Foxtown held a fourth birthday party for him in 1949. He tied the marital cord with Joanne Kensler ( ? - ? ). Their longtime home was in Hartwell, GA. Two sons borne of this union were Michael Gordon and William Gordon. Michael owned Red Clay Marketing in Hartwell. With an interest in public affairs, he served on Hartwell city council for four years, from 2006 to 2010. He made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2009 and then stepped away from council at the end of his term. City manager David Aldrich said that he and Michael did not always agree on certain issues impacting their town but that "We could disagree without being disagreeable," reported the Hartwell Sun. He also was active in the Rotary Club of Hartwell and just a month before his death helped raise over $1,200 to buy gift cards from local restaurants as rewards for employees of the city and Hart County who "had been working tirelessly" through the Covid-19 epidemic. Among his other Rotary projects were helping design a new playground at Hart County Recreation Department park to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He was a co-founder in 2003 of the Loch Hartwell Highland Games, which continued to 2008. Michael also belonged to the Hartwell First United Methodist Church. Said the Sun, "He was a frequent author of cleverly written letters to the editor in The Sun and was sometimes a co-host of Back Talk Live on HTC Cable’s Channel 3." Sadly, Michael surrendered to death's shadow at the age of 75 on June 26, 2020. His obituary in the Sun asked that any memorial gifts be made to the Hartwell Police Department or Hartwell Fire Department. As a widow, Joanne has made her residence in Taylors, SC.

  • Grandson Michael Gordon married Sheri. Their three children are Ayla Gordon, Dylan Aiden Gordon and Logan Gordon. In 2020, they were in Elberton, GA. 
  • Grandson William Gordon was united in matrimony with Gail. They are the parents of Hunter Gordon and Greer Ann Gordon and make a home in Sandy Springs, GA.

Daughter Patricia Lynn Gordon ( ? - ? ) has made her dwelling-place in Taylors, SC. She is the mother of Trisha Williams and Erin Gordon.

~ Daughter Clara Mae "Bunny" (Van Dyke) Stefanic ~

Daughter Clara Mae "Bunny" Van Dyke (1922-2004) was born on Aug. 12, 1922 in Foxtown. 

Prior to marriage, on Dec. 12, 1944, she and Donald Campbell together bore a son, Barry VanDyke, who died at birth from the injury of "dystocia" -- difficulty in the delivery caused a large fetus or small birth canal. The baby's tender remains were lowered into eternal sleep in Youngwood Cemetery.

When she was age 23, on July 19, 1946, Clara Mae married George Thomas Stefanic (Sept. 8, 1923-1999). 

Two known children of this marriage were Margaret I. Stefanic and Thomas Craig Stefanic. 

The Stefanics lived with Clara May's parents in Hunker, Hempfield Township in 1950, with George employed as a rope rider in a coal mine.  

Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg 
Later they moved to Greensburg and were there in the early 1990s. Clara Mae was a member of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.

George passed away the day after his 76th birthday on Sept. 9, 1999. 

Clara Mae lived for another five-plus years. With her health in decline, she was accepted to live in Hempfield Manor. She died at the age of 82 on Dec. 29, 2004. Her remains were interred in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Laughlintown. An obituary appeared in the Greensburg Tribune-Review.

Daughter Margaret I. "Peggy" Stefanic (1949- ? ) was born in about 1949 in Westmoreland County. She was joined in wedlock with (?) Gradine. Circa 2015, Margaret dwelled in New Stanton.

Son Thomas Craig Stefanic (1950-2015) was born on Sept. 28, 1950 in Mount Pleasant, PA. He entered into marriage with Roseann L. Halas ( ? - ? ). The trio of children in this family were Thomas Craig Stefanic Jr., Craig S. Stefanic and Jamie L. Ritson. Sadly, son Thomas Jr. died young. The Stefanics lived in Greensburg. Thomas earned a living with W Construction Company in Greensburg and later in the plumbing department of Lowe's in Greensburg, a position from which he retired. Sadly, at the age of 64, Thomas died at home on July 22, 2015. His funeral mass was held at St. Paul Parish of Greensburg. In an obituary in the Greensburg Tribune-Review, the family asked that any memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association.

  • Grandson Craig S. Stefanic has made a home over the years in Greensburg. 
  • Granddaughter Jamie L. Stefanic wed (?) Ritson. Together they produced three children --- Joshua Ritson, Noah Ritson and Lakyn Ritson. 

~ Son Vernon Victor "Buck" VanDyke  ~

Son Vernon Victor "Buck" VanDyke (1924-1994) was born on July 24, 1924 in Foxtown. 

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army. Then  when the federal census enumeration was made in 1950, he lived with his parents and generated income as a core maker in a foundry.

Vernon was twice married. His first bride was Esther South (July 27, 1929-1954), daughter of Charles and Mary (Jellison) South of Greensburg. 

Together, the young pair produced a daughter, Diane Roach.  

Tragically, while in childbirth at the age of 25, Esther contracted a deadly case of bronchial pneumonia and was admitted to the H.C. Frick Memorial Hospital in Mount Pleasant. Unable to rally, she and the baby passed away on Nov. 4, 1954. An obituary in the Greensburg Daily Tribune said that funeral services were held in the Missionary Alliance Church in Youngwood, presided by Rev. R.M. Glass. Her remains were interred in Youngwood Cemetery. 

Vernon wed again to Judith Harrold (June 24, 1938-2016), daughter of Walter an Jane (Saxton) Harrold of Greensburg. 

Their three children were Rhonda Davis, Vernon Jeffrey VanDyke and Brett Allan VanDyke. 

Over the years, the Van Dykes lived in Hunker/Foxtown, and Vernon earned a living as a plumber. 

He passed away at home at the age of 70 on Dec. 14, 1994. The Greensburg Tribune-Review printed an obituary, which noted that Father John Pro officiated at the funeral service, with burial following in St. Clair Cemetery. 

As a widow, Judith relocated into the county seat of Greensburg. She died at the age of 77, on April 12, 2016, in Excela Westmoreland Hospital. Pastor John Smaligo led the funeral service with burial in St. Clair Cemetery, and an obituary in the Tribune-Review.

Daughter Diane VanDyke married Richard "Rick" Roach ( ? - ? ), the son of Albert and Sarah (Morris) Roach. They lived in Greensburg in 1994-2016.

Daughter Rhonda VanDyke wed Raymond "Ray" Davis and in 1994-2016 dwelled in Greensburg. They are the parents of Ashley Davis and Nathan Davis.

Son Vernon Jeffrey "Jeff" VanDyke made his home in Hunker and Derry and by 2016 in Colorado.

Son Brett Allan VanDyke ( ? -living) attended Hempfield High School and Derry Area Senior High School. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he met his future wife Jessica Bieranowski ( ? -living). They have resided in Hunker and Pittsburgh and together own VanDyke Photography of Jefferson Hills. Among their clients is West Mifflin School District.

~ Son Samuel Allen VanDyke Sr.  ~

Son Samuel Allen VanDyke Sr. (1926-2014) was born on Oct. 22, 1926 in Foxtown. 

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy. 

He was joined in wedlock with Helen Kubicek Radacaj (July 9, 1945-2006), daughter of Anne Blahaut. Their union endured for an extraordinary 60 years. 

They lived in Hunker and produced three offspring -- Rebecca L. VanDyke, Samuel Allen VanDyke Jr. and Randy VanDyke.

Samuel was a streetcar driver and later a bus driver for Lincoln Coach and the Port Authority. He also belonged to the Moose Treasure Club, Youngwood Veterans of Foreign Wars and with Helen were members of the Holy Cross Church in Youngwood, A and B Club and Hempfield Hunt Club. 

Sadness cascaded over the family on Feb. 23, 2006 when Helen was gathered away by the angel of death as a patient in Greensburg's Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. Her funeral mass was held in the family church, with Rev. John S. Szczesny presiding. In an obituary, the family asked that any memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association.

Samuel died at the age of 87 on July 15, 2014. An obituary in the Greensburg Tribune-Review said that his survivors included six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Final rest was in the Westmoreland County Memorial Park Mausoleum. The family asked that any memorial donations be made to the Mooseheart Child City and School.

Daughter Rebecca L. "Becky" VanDyke (1957-2009) was born on Oct. 4, 1957 in Greensburg. She dwelled in Hunker/Foxtown over the years. She succumbed to the spectre of death at the age of 51 at home on June 17, 2009. As he had for Rebecca's mother, Rev. John S. Szczesny led the funeral rites. An obituary was published in the Tribune-Review.

Son Samuel Allen VanDyke Jr. married Mary and resided in 2009 in Youngwood and in 2014 in Carolina Shores, NC.

Son Randy VanDyke has been twice-wed. His first bride was Sandy Bossart ( ? - ? ), daughter of Donald B. and Sara K. "Sally" (Washabaugh) Bossart Sr. One known son was Chad VanDyke. The marriage ended in divorce. Randy again entered into marriage with Betsy ( ? - ? ). In 2002-2014, the couple made their home in Scottdale, Westmoreland County. Four other offspring in this family were Randy VanDyke Jr., Jordan Vandyke, Lauren VanDyke and possibly also Rocco Pisseretti and Ruth Ann Sneed. (This all needs to be confirmed.) By 1996, former wife Sandy married again to Mike Vallozzi, and they have lived in Ruffsdale and Hunker. They all grieved in 2002 at the untimely death of their son Chad.

  • Grandson Chad VanDyke (1975-2002) was born on Nov. 12, 1975 in Greensburg. He made his dwelling-place in adulthood in Scottdale. Chad earned a living over the years through emplyoment with Heitkamp Inc. of Connecticut and Spinello Pipeline of New Jersey. Grief swept over the family when, at age 26, Chad died at home on Oct. 2, 2002. 
  • Grandson Randy VanDyke Jr. ( ? - ? ) resided in Scottdale in 2002.
  • Grandson Jordan VanDyke ( ? - ? ) was in Scottdale in 2002.
  • Granddaughter Lauren VanDyke ( ? - ? ) relocated to Pittsburgh.

~ Daughter Naomi Pauline (Van Dyke) Zedek McNeal ~

Daughter Naomi Pauline Van Dyke (1934-2003) was born on Aug. 24, 1934 in Hunker.

She was twice married.

Her first husband was Joseph Zedek (Nov. 7, 1922/1928-1993), son of Frank M. Zedek of Armbrust, Westmoreland County. Their nuptials were held on April 14, 1951. At the time of marriage, Joseph was in the U.S. Army Air Vorces, having enlisted in 1946.

Together, they produced a trio of known offspring, Joseph Leon Zedek, Kim Hixson, Cindy Wise, Brian Zedek and perhaps others.

Joseph served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and the couple made their first home at Pensacola, FL, where Joseph had been assigned to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Corry Field. By 1952, they had moved back to Naomi's hometown. Sadly, the Zedeks divorced by 1966.

On June 9, 1966, she entered into the rite of marriage with her second spouse, James Andrew McNeal Sr. ( ? - ? ).

Over the years, Naomi dwelled in Tall Timbers, MD and later in Champlain, VA.

She was whisked away by the spirit of death in Essex, VA on July 30, 2003.

Former husband Joseph dwelled in Youngwood. He married again to Virginia Fontaine Charley ( ? - ? ). Joseph died on March 8, 1993.

Son Joseph Leon Zedek (1951- ? ) was born in 1951 in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Pensacola, FL. News of his birth was published in the Connellsville Daily Courier. He and his first wife are believed to have been the parents of one son, Joseph Leon Zedek Jr. The marriage dissolved in divorce on Nov. 2, 1979. In the aftermath, he made his dwelling-place at 1939 Gay Avenue in Greensburg. Then at the age of 34, on Valentine's Day 1986, he and Elaine Francis (Kochis) Bell (1951- ? ) tied the marital knot in Winchester, VA. Martha F. Grim, an appointee of the Circuit Court, performed the nuptials. Elaine was the daughter of Paul E. and Edith L. (Musgrove) Kochis and also was divorced from a previous spouse. As of 1987, the Zedeks resided in Greensburg.

  • Grandson Joseph Leon Zedek Jr. (1971- ? ) was born in 1971. He lived in Hunker as a young man. At the age of 20, he ran afoul of the law when charged with burglary and receiving stolen goods, as reported in the Latrobe Bulletin.

Daughter Kim Zedek ( ? -living) - On Aug. 29, 1980, she married Robert F. Hixson Sr. They put down roots in Youngwood and are the parents of Robert F. Hixson Jr. and Victor J. Hixson. Robert Sr. joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1981 and served through 1988. Hen during the Iraq War, he rejoined the Guard in 1991. Later, circa 2012, he and their sons became members of the Guard's 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Headquarters Company, with deployment to Iraq. Their unit also is known as the 28th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion 110th Infantry (mechanized).  Kim was quoted in a Greensburg Tribune-Review article in May 2012 headlined "Father, 2 Sons Will Ship Off to Iraq." Today they make a home in New Stanton. She generously has shared valuable content for this biography.

  • Grandson Robert F. Hixson Jr. was joined in matrimony with Crysta and settled in Blairsville, PA. They are the parents of Alyssa Hixson. He has served as a medic with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry Headquarters Company.
  • Grandson Victor J. Hixson 

Daughter Cynthia Renee "Cindy" Zedek ( ? -2020) wed James "Larry" Wise ( ? - ? ), son of Charles Paul "Chuck" and Mary Agnes (Bean) Beining. The pair were in Hustle, VA in 2012-2020. Cindy in 2003 contributed valuable content for this biography. Tragically, on the fateful day of Aug. 23, 2020, the Wises were riding together in their 1998 Toyota Camry when the vehicle was struck by an oncoming car near the intersection of Mechanicsville Road and Budds Creek Road near Chaptico, MD. Cynthia was critically injured and rushed by ambulance to Chaptico Park where plans were hastily made for transport to a hospital via a Medevac helicopter. But sadly, reported TheBayNet.com, "her condition deteriorated" and despite the administration of CPR, she "succumbed to her injuries a short time later." Larry was seriously injured and, said the story, "faces a long road to recovery, with many surgeries and rehabilitation."

Son Brian Zedek ( ? - ? ) has made a home in Virginia.

Copyright © 2000, 2003-2006, 2018, 2023 Mark A. Miner
Minerd.com extends its gratitude to Kim (Zedek) Hixson, the late Cindy (Zedek) Wise and the late Anna Belle (Van Dyke) Breegle for sharing material for this biography.