YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Gregory Kowal, Sr., 75, passed away Friday morning, December 2, 2022, surrounded by his family at St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital.

Gregory, who was affectionately known as “Harry” by his family, “Tato” by his children and “Dido” by his grandchildren, was born February 17, 1947, in Ludwigsburg, Germany, a son of the late Nick and Eva Kowal and came to the United States with his family in the early 1950s and settled in Niles.

Growing up in Niles, Greg was a 1965 graduate of Niles McKinley High School where he was a member of the football team.

After graduation, Greg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and proudly served his country, fighting in both Vietnam and Cuba. 

Mr. Kowal was a long time member of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown. He was very proud of his Ukrainian heritage and attended Ukrainian school on the weekends. Keeping Ukrainian traditions was very important to Greg and he passed down this passion and his knowledge to his family.

In 1961, Greg and his brother, John, formed a band. It had many names throughout the years but was most recently known as “Tradition” and “Old Spice.” Together, Greg and John played a variety of music including, oldies, country, rock and roll, blues, polkas, waltzes and tangos. Greg’s favorite genre of music to play was traditional Ukrainian music, which he enjoyed playing with his cherished friend Tommy Volinchak. Tommy stated “I would give anything to play with him just one more time.” Greg’s band played for many weddings, dances, parties and taverns throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. He was a wonderful and very talented musician and he played the accordion beautifully. His motto was “in case of emergency, play me a polka!”

He was also a wonderful dancer and greatly enjoyed both Ukrainian folk dance and ballroom dancing. Music and dancing were his greatest passions in life. Greg loved history and followed politics and world events. He loved a good debate and was a very intelligent man. Greg could communicate in 13 different languages, Ukrainian being his first language.

Greg had a quirky and wonderful sense of humor but was also very stubborn and grumpy was his charm. He was very opinionated and was not afraid to share his opinion with others. Greg was tough as nails on the outside but, he was a kind, soft hearted and forgiving soul on the inside.

He was very well liked and respected by those who knew him. He never went anywhere that he didn’t find a friend. Greg remembered everyone he ever met and knew someone everywhere he went.

He took great pride in his work and his accomplishments but most of all, he was proud of his children and grandchildren.

He leaves to forever cherish his memory, his son, Greg Kowal, Jr., whom he was very proud of and loved deeply; his son, Nicholas Gregory Kowal, who stayed with him and cared for him in his final months; his daughter, who was his pride and joy,  Ariana Luccia (Ray, Jr.) Brock; his grandchildren, whom he adored and loved with all of his heart,  Holly Kowal, Nicholas Shane Kowal,  Brooklynn Marie Kowal and Antoshka Marie Brock; a great-granddaughter, Aria; his brother, John Kowal; his sister, Ann (Bob) Barker; his sister-in-law, Karen Kowal; a nephew, John (Lisa) Kowal; nieces, Kristina Joy Jones, Stephanie Barker and Meghan Barker; his niece and Goddaughter, Jillian (Derek) Barker-Warfle; great-nephews, Dylan Kowal, Cristian Kowal and Harding and great-nieces, Haylie and Lila Jones. Greg also leaves a cousin, Olga Podolets; his first wife, Irene Kowal and many extended family members and friends all around the world. He also leaves his second wife, whom he shared a lifetime of 36 years together, Michele Kowal Strack and her husband, Richard Strack, to cherish his memory and carry on where he left off.

Greg will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Per Greg’s request, there will be no calling hours or services. 

Arrangements have been entrusted to Kinnick Funeral Home in Youngstown.

Greg’s family suggests to anyone wishing to make a memorial contribution do so by donating to help the people of Ukraine at ukrmet@ukrcap.org.

To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.

A television tribute will air Friday, December 9 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. Video will be posted here the day of airing.