Coplay bids farewell to longtime public works employee Danny Pavelko
Whether Daniel "Danny" Pavelko, a longtime Borough of Coplay public works employee was in the cockpit of a propeller airplane in the blue skies over the Lehigh Valley, or behind the wheel of a borough pickup truck, he was always focused and grounded while serving the community.
Pavelko's passing March 3 has left a void in the town of 3,000.
The number of people attending Pavelko's funeral was something the borough has not seen in years.
As the long procession of vehicles led by a hearse carrying Pavelko's body stopped in front of the borough hall, public works personnel stood, wearing black ribbons on their borough logo T-shirts, as they bowed their heads and placed a hand across their hearts in honor of Pavelko.
Monsignor John Martin, at the funeral Mass at St. Peter's Catholic Church, stood in front of Pavelko's family and son, Matthew, telling the 17-year-old high school senior how much love his father had for his son.
"I loved him," Martin said of Pavelko, who was a member of the parish.
Residing a couple blocks from the borough public works garage, Pavelko was a familiar face as he rode his bicycle to and from work, passing the church and rectory on daily rides. On arriving back at home in the late afternoon, he could be seen often loading his van with tools, going to someone's home to fix a faucet, tackle a plumbing or heating issue or assisting with other household repairs or tasks.
Employed by the borough for 30 years in a number of position including public works director, Pavelko kept the aged furnace running, the pool pumps operating and flags and holiday decorations hanging on poles, all while keeping the streets in repair and ensuring garbage was picked up.
Pavelko always had the time for his son and brother George. His brother, a former chief navigator on Air Force One, recalls the many camping trips Pavelko and his group took to a wooded site several hours north of the borough, with Matt often in tow.
"Danny would prepare the place, a trailer, set up several tents, start the camp fire, lanterns and cook before others arrived," George said. "We all miss him greatly. Matthew will continue to be a big part of my life and the family's."
"Danny went out of his way on the job," added Paul Boyle, borough public works director. "He was dedicated and worked well with the crew. He gave pretty much of his life to the borough."
Working aside of Pavelko for 17 years, Pat Klement said he learned much about him, not only as a mentor but as a friend.
"When Danny went camping, he had cats and sometimes a rabbit and fish, which I would take care of until he came back home," he said.
Danny was known to have a backyard get together with friends at which stories of yesteryear and the present were told as a fire glowed in the outdoor fireplace.
Others recalled Pavelko as being the glue that kept the Lehigh Valley Flying Club intact, from maintaining the plane to serving as the club's chef.
Borough Police Chief Vince Genovese, who was a close friend of Pavelko, said it is a tremendous loss to all who knew him, noting his smile and consideration for the community. Genovese said Pavelko loved life and was known to enoy a cuisine, whether it was spaghetti or sushi.
In addition to Coplay Borough Council last Tuesday observing a moment of silence in Pavelko's memory, so did the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners at their meeting Monday, a fitting tribute to a 57-year-old community-spirited resident.