YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – John Panko III, 61 of Palatine, Illinois, passed away into eternity on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. 

John was born November 11, 1961, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a son of John Panko, Jr. and Joann Miladore Panko.

Although John was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he spent most of his life in Palatine, Illinois moving there when he was ten years old.

John was baptized and raised Ukrainian Catholic and instilled with a strong faith and belief in God that remained his guiding light throughout his entire life. He was a member of Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Greek Byzantine Catholic Church in Palatine and he served in various church leadership positions throughout his life and was a Sacristan for many years. John was an instrumental member of the parish Building Committee, where alongside his brother, Michael and wife, Kerry, he saw to the completion and consecration of the expansion of their church in October of 2020. His strong faith and special love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, also inspired him to lead dozens of pilgrimages for family members and friends to the tiny village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the apparition sites of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace. His trips to Medjugorje and the time spent there, in the presence of Our Lady, became the ones most near and dear to his heart. John’s last trip to Medjugorje was made extra special because he was able to share it with Kerry and introduce her to the many wonderful friends he made there over the years and show her all the places that he held so dear.

John was also a fitness enthusiast and tremendous athlete, who excelled at many sports, including being a 3rd degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate but anyone who knew John, knew he held a special passion for baseball. He was a player all his life, including being an All-Conference Baseball player and delivering the clinching hit as a key member of the 1979 St. Viator HS in Arlington Hts., Illinois, ESCC Conference Championship team. John continued his passion for baseball into college, where he played three seasons for the SIU Salukis in Carbondale, Illinois, then went on to play for many years, up until recently, in the Northern Illinois Men’s Baseball League (NIMBL) where he developed many wonderful friendships and helped his teams win numerous championship trophies.

John was also a life-long fan of all Ohio sports, including his much-loved (and sometimes hated) Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State University Buckeyes football team. His other interests included music and playing his guitars, fishing and a passion for playing and watching golf, especially during his annual trips to The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. 

After John met Kerry in 2006 at an Oktoberfest party in Chicago, Illinois, they dated for seven years before marrying in 2013 in a beautiful ceremony at Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio. Three years later they were blessed by the birth of their son, Johnny, giving John the opportunity to take on his most precious and important role, that of being a father. John was a proud dad who relished getting to spend time with Johnny, see him grow and begin to instill in him the importance of the three things that he loved the most: Faith, Family, and Sports.

John is survived by his loving wife, Kerry (nee Stanton) and their feisty six-year-old son, John IV, of Palatine, Illinois. He is also survived by many other loving family members, including his mother, Joann of Palatine, Illinois; brother, Michael (Jill) Panko of Cary, Illinois; brother, Mark (Diana) Panko of Allen, Texas; father-in-law, James Stanton of Chicago, Illinois; brother-in-law, Tim (Kristen) Stanton of Greensboro, North Carolina; sister-in-law, Jennifer Brixy of Madison, Wisconsin; sister-in-law, Maureen (Chris) Murphy of Chicago, Illinois and his 11 cherished nieces and nephews, Michael, Jr., Matthew, Sarah, Rachel, Francis, Isabella, Pete, Kate, Kevin, Quinn and Cora, all who adored him.

John was proceeded in death by his beloved father, John Panko, Jr.; his grandparents, John and Ann Panko and John and Anne Miladore; his aunt, Elaine Luchansky (nee Miladore), as well as his mother-in-law, Carole Stanton.

Family and friends may call from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. on Friday, January 27, 2023, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 477 N. Meridian Road, Youngstown, where funeral services will take place at 11:30 a.m.

Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown.

John will be remembered with much love by all of his family and friends and will be greatly missed. 

Vichnaya Pamyat!  Eternal Memory!

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

A television tribute will air Thursday, January 26 at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.