George Marion Marusiak
George Marion Marusiak, a loving and loyal husband and father, Vietnam veteran and former United States Postal Service auditor, died peacefully on July 19, 2021 after a brief and courageous battle with cancer. He was 74.
Born in Poland in 1947 to parents Roman Marusiak and Helen Gerus, George Marusiak grew up in Krakow with his younger brother until 1958, when his father began the process of escaping communist Poland.
During World War II, George’s father had been a member of the Polish Home Army, providing underground resistance against German occupation, while his mother was conscripted by the Germans to toil in a work camp, digging traps against advancing Russian tanks. After the war ended, George’s father joined the Red Cross, serving on trains that returned displaced civilians to their homelands across Eastern Europe. George’s family managed to survive the lean postwar years under Stalinist rule in Poland through his father’s bartering and nursing work, as well as his mother’s skill as an expert seamstress.
In the mid-1950s, when George was a young child, the Soviet Union relaxed its repression of occupied countries, and George and his father took that opportunity to obtain visas to visit the United States, where an uncle had moved before WWII. The father and son arrived on U.S. shores in 1958. Strategically, George’s mother and younger brother remained behind in Krakow in order to buy the family more time to gain political asylum in the U.S. The ruse was successful, and the entire family was reunited in 1961, settling in Akron, Ohio.
George felt incredibly lucky to be able to come to America. He was initially concerned by the Texaco Oil Company’s red star logo, and he wondered if that meant that the Soviets also had a presence in the U.S. He was relieved to discover that his family would be safe from threats and that the Texaco star was just an artistic emblem and not a symbol of spreading Soviet communism.
Mr. Marusiak attended St. John the Baptist Catholic grade school in Akron, Ohio. He was also a Boy Scout who enjoyed many summers at Camp Manatoc, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School in 1966, where he began his lifelong interest in cars and music. Fitting the anti-establishment times, the class motto was “Who Cares?”.
As a young man, George had many adventures with his friends and got into general mischief that he later shared with much laughter and a twinkle in his eye. After high school graduation, George enrolled at Alliance College, in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, where he studied Polish history and culture and where he was a member of the folk-dance ensemble.
In 1966, when the Vietnam War was raging, George enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight communism on his own terms rather than be drafted. Upon learning that, by signing up to be a paratrooper, he would be entitled to extra hazardous duty pay that he could send back to his mother, he was all in.
Mr. Marusiak was recruited to be a radio operator for the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), one of the most elite active-duty groups in the U.S. Armed Forces, and he saw extensive action in Vietnam as a Green Beret. George was very proud of the role he played in working with U.S. Army-sponsored orphanages in Vietnam. He achieved the rank of Sergeant during the war, and served three difficult combat tours of duty, displaying physical and moral courage, as evidenced by his combat decorations. Nevertheless, George would often recommend that everyone read Major General (Ret.) Smedley Butler’s antiwar classic, “War is a Racket,” and, modestly, he did not want anyone to thank him for his service.
After Mr. Marusiak’s honorable discharge from the Army near the end of the war, he returned to Akron, where he met and married his late wife, the former Jorja Kingsland. The couple enjoyed The couple enjoyed driving winding country roads, attending rock concerts, breeding Great Danes, and cultivating bonsai trees. They enjoyed 43 years of marriage together before Mrs. Marusiak’s passing in 2015.
George briefly attended the University of Akron in the 1970’s before beginning his career with the U.S. Postal Service. He raised his family in the same South Akron neighborhood to which he had emigrated and his children attended the same schools and church.
George was always a proud Akronite and an even prouder American. He truly believed in the ideals of America and frequently expressed that the United States was the best country in the world. In 1985, George moved his family to the countryside to enjoy the natural beauty and wide open spaces. He retired from the Postal Service in 2003 to care for his wife and to pursue his varied hobbies.
Mr. Marusiak died as he lived: He wrote his own rules, he fought authority, and he chose his own path. If you told him that he could not do a thing, he would make sure he did it. He was celebrated by his family and friends for his intelligence, his sly smile, his love for song lyrics and a great guitar riff, and for a rugged handsomeness and inner spirit that could make anyone fall in love with him. He also had a bit of a wild side. His friends knew that hanging out with George in the 60s and 70s could end in a drag race, motorcycle stunts, a bar brawl, a great concert, the screening of an action film, or nursing a killer hangover. He was the kind of man that his friends would gladly drive hours to see at the drop of a hat.
George managed to squeeze a thousand years of life out of the 74 calendar years that were allotted to him. He was the rare individual who not only had a zest for life, but also a firm understanding of what was truly important–simply and mindfully spending time with the special people in his life. Although he unfailingly placed his loved ones above any material possessions, he nevertheless kept a special place in his heart for his recliner and the Sirius XM Grateful Dead channel in his car.
Mr. Marusiak was preceded in death by his wife, Jorja, and his son, Joseph Marusiak. He is survived by his daughter, Eleanor Marusiak (Denise Keehner), his granddaughter, Jocelyn Keehner, M.D.(of whom he was very proud) and his grandson, George Marion Marusiak Mackey (of whom he missed greatly). He is also survived by his brother, Thaddeus Marusiak (Patricia), of Akron, Ohio. George also leaves behind a close community of beloved friends who provided companionship and assistance to him in his retirement, and for whom he was forever grateful.
A funeral Mass will be held for Mr. Marusiak in Baltimore, Maryland and he and his wife will rest together at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. A gathering to celebrate George’s life is planned with details forthcoming.