STRUTHERS, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Maria Matlak, 74, formerly of Struthers, passed away Monday, March 6, 2023, at Palmetto Patriots Home for Veterans in Gaffney, South Carolina, where she was a resident since November 2022.

Maria was born March 1, 1949, a daughter of Leon and Irene Matlak.

She was a 1967 graduate of Struthers High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University.

Maria joined the United States Marine Corps in October of 1972 and traveled to Quantico, Virginia, where she began her training at the Women Officer School. Maria made a career in the Marine Corps, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and proudly served for 27 years before retiring in 1999. Maria was stationed in many cities throughout the country and abroad, including Norfolk, Virginia, Washington D.C., Parris Island, South Carolina, Okinawa, Japan and San Diego, California.

Maria had a great smile, a good laugh and bright blue eyes. She was kind and thoughtful and would often send “thinking of you” cards with a smiley face and heart stickers. She loved sending bouquets of flowers for birthdays and anniversaries. If she discovered a favorite item you liked, you would receive multiple gifts of it.

Maria’s visits to her hometown were an event that caused for family gatherings, as she was well loved. She always made time to visit childhood and college friends. Maria was a great listener; always interested in another person’s life story. Over the years, she created beautiful photo albums of family celebrations, her travels, career highlights and sentimental greeting cards, all wonderful keepsakes of her life.

Maria married William “Bill” Wright on June 24, 1983. They made their home in Alexandria, Virginia and eventually in Escondido, California. Together they traveled the United States, driving cross country many times and visited several countries in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and her parents’ homeland of Ukraine. Maria and Bill enjoyed many ports of call on their cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada and the Mediterranean and would often travel with family and friends.

Maria welcomed visits from her family and friends and was a generous hostess, treating guests to hot air balloon rides, parasailing adventures, horseback riding excursions, theatre productions, theme parks and more. She was a daredevil and had the opportunity to partake in many daring adventures, including bungee jumping, tandem skydiving, walking the top of the Sydney Harbour bridge and riding roller coasters! She also received a pilot’s license. Maria was a huge fan of John Denver and Neil Diamond songs. She relaxed by reading all types of books and solving crossword and Sudoku puzzles.

In retirement, she gave back to her community by volunteering in an elementary school reading program, a neighborhood police station where she would greet and provide information to visitors and at the House of Ukraine cultural museum.

Maria leaves to cherish her memory, two brothers, Anthony (Irene) Matlak of Avon Lake and Raymond (Vicki) Matlak of Westerville; two sisters, Anna (Thomas) Vukovic of Troy, New York and Irene (Paul) Hucul of Greenville, South Carolina; four nieces, three nephews, two stepdaughters and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

Maria will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.

She was preceded in death by her parents and husband.

Family and friends may call from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 477 North Meridian Road, Youngstown, where funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m.

Interment will follow at St. John Cemetery on Villa Marie Road in Lowellville.

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

A television tribute will air Monday, March 13 at the following approximate times: 6:47 a.m. on WYTV, 9:43 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.