STRUTHERS, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Steve T. Garchar, accordionist and band leader, peacefully entered into eternal rest, Sunday morning, August 2, 2020.
Steve was born November 12, 1928 in Struthers, a son of George and Mary Benzala Garchar.
He was raised in Struthers and graduated in 1947 from Struthers High School.
Steve started playing the accordion at the age of ten years old and was self taught and later studied accordion with Frank Sainato at Strouss’ Music Center. Steve started his first band in high school and in 1949 formed the Steve Garchar International Slovene Orchestra, playing for weddings, parties and dance hall engagements and many other events. Band members included, Jimmy Ament on saxophone, Rodney Mufley on drums, Hank Racich on accordion, Emery Bobic on bass and Bud Conrad on guitar.
The name, Steve Garchar, became legendary in the Slovene style of Polka Music. Through the encouragement of other musicians and friends, Steve began to develop his own unique style of Polka’s, and his originality in song writing led to a recording contract with a major record label, Jay-Gee Records and Coral Label Records. With a national spotlight focused on his orchestra, the group began to enjoy great success. When the Cleveland style Polka’s were at their peak after World War II, Steve Garchar was the standard bearer in the Penn-Ohio arena, leading the orchestra virtually every night of the week, and performing live on the WFMJ radio station as well as live television performances each Sunday.
In 1951 through 1953, the band recorded hit singles including Jolly Time Polka, Blue Mountain Waltz, Bridge Street Polka, Donna Jean Polka, Highland Polka, Jolly Five Polka, Steel Town Polka, Georgeanne Waltz, My Pretty Girl Polka, Terry Ann Polka, My Little Dolly Polka and the Redwood Waltz. In 1952 the Highland Polka and My Pretty Girl Polka were reviewed in Billboard Magazine. In 1953 the Blue Mountain Waltz was also listed as a newly released record, as well as the Terry Ann Polka.
On February 16, 1953, Steve married the love of his life, the former Dorothy J. Fecko. Dorothy joined Steve in Kansas upon his draft into the U.S Army in August 1953. Steve was stationed in Ft. Riley, Kansas and served his country as a medic. In addition to his duties, Steve also volunteered many hours playing his accordion for the injured soldiers. Steve was honorably discharged June 2, 1955, and he and his wife Dorothy returned back to Struthers, Ohio.
Steve then reorganized his band and continued to once again play full time to the delight of so many of his fans. In 1956 Steve began employment with Ohio Edison, now known as First Energy. He started in construction and worked in various departments, last being Credit and Accounting. He retired in 1992 after 35 years of service. During his employment with Ohio Edison and into his retirement, Steve continued to play in the Penn-Ohio arena and as far away as Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1994, Steve was honored and inducted into the Cleveland Polka Hall of Fame for his musical contributions to the field of Polka Music.
Steve and his wife Dorothy shared 54 years together and raised three daughters, Marianne, Linda and Karen. Although Steve’s love for music was so strong, just as strong was his endless love for his family and most especially his wife, Dorothy. Faith and family came first in Steve’s life. Spending special time all together were so important to him. He was a loving husband, most wonderful father and grandfather, who loved his grandchildren so much. As they grew up it was a joy to see them dance the polka to his music.
In Steve’s retirement and later years he just enjoyed simple things, the love of family and spending time in his backyard, which he loved and where he would feed the birds and plant his marigolds.
Steve will always be remembered for his kindness and compassion to everyone he met. Our family wishes to thank all of the many friends and fans who “danced away” to our father’s gift of music through the years. In his own words, “I just want to make the people happy.”
In addition to his parents, Steve was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dorothy who passed away February 14, 2007; his brothers, John, George, Michael, Joseph and Andrew Garchar and sisters, Agnes Koval and Mary Belloto. Also a brother, the first Stephen Thomas Garchar who passed away at the age of 12 years old in 1927.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his daughters, Marianne (Terry) Murphy of Brigantine, New Jersey, Linda Garchar of Struthers and Karen Luke of Columbus, Ohio; grandchildren, Sarah (Bill) Davis, Kelly Murphy (fiancé, Michael Newell) and Matthew Chuey (fiancée, Makala Ginnis) and great-grandchildren, Lillian and Olivia Davis.
Steve’s daughters would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Thomas Burkert of Poland for his excellent care of our dear father through the many years of his life. Also a very special thank you to the many wonderful caregivers who assisted our father in his later years.
Family and friends will be received Thursday, August 6, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Cunningham-Becker Funeral Home in Poland where a prayer service will be held Friday, August 7 at 9:45 a.m. at the funeral home.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, August 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Great Hall of Christ Our Savior Parish at St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church with Fr. Martin Celuch officiating.
Interment will follow at St. John the Baptist Catholic Cemetery.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Steve T. Garchar, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Friday, August 7, at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV.
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