Harold Joseph “Joe” Gonya (1923-2020)

Posted June 21, 2020

Harold Joseph “Joe” Gonya, peacefully died on Sunday, June 21, 2020 surrounded by his family in Lebanon, PA. He was the husband of Priscilla (Sword) Gonya.

Born in Fremont, OH on March 19, 1923, Joe was one of five children of Francis and Louise (Darr) Gonya. He graduated from St. Joe’s Catholic High School in 1941. He met his wife, Priscilla, at The Ohio State University and on September 11, 1948, they married in St. Mary’s Church in Dayton, OH. They were married for almost 72 years. Joe was a WWII veteran and was discharged from the Army Air Corp with the ranking of 2nd Lieutenant. He was an avid Buckeye fan, graduating from The Ohio State University with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering in 1950 and was a member of Alpha Pi Mu, an industrial engineering honorary fraternity. He worked for several steel industries, including the Lebanon Steel Foundry. Joe was a devoted member of St. Cecilia’s Church, formerly St. Gertrude’s, and was past chairman of the church festival and Fasnacht sales, member of the Parish Council, Spiritual Team Leader of Cursillo, Cub Scout master for 15 years, Boy Scout leader, lector and choir member. He was a life member of the Knights of Columbus and the Mt. Zion Fire Company. He volunteered with Youth for Understanding and he and his wife hosted 42 students during their twenty years of volunteering. Joe loved to cook and did so with friends at a hunting lodge in Tioga County and a fishing camp in Canada. Joe was an avid gardener and took pride in making his own wine. He and his wife traveled to several countries visiting former exchange students as well as spending a year in then Czechoslovakia teaching English as a second language.

Joe is survived by his wife and children, Steve Gonya, husband of Jane, of Rocksprings, TX, Terri Gonya of Neenah, WI, Dave Gonya, husband of Richele, of Myerstown, Linda Gonya- Hartman, wife of Michael, of Lebanon, and Jenni Swider, wife of Matt, of Bridgeville, PA; 7 grandchildren: Andrea Magee, Kristen Magee, Joseph Gonya,  Ryan Hartman, Josh Hartman, Matthew (MJ) Swider and Kaylie Swider.

He is preceded in death by his parents, and siblings Howard, Donald, and Herbert Gonya and Ethel Burkett; nephews Rick and Tony Burkett, and Ken Gonya and niece Susan Gonya.

Funeral Mass will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, June 29th at St. Cecilia’s Church, 120 East Lehman Street., Lebanon, PA 17046. Interment with full military honors will follow at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. Viewing hours will be held Sunday, June 28th from 6-8 pm at Thompson Funeral Home, Inc., 126 S. 9th St., Lebanon, PA 17042 and Monday, June 29th prior to Mass from 11:30-12:30 at the church. In lieu of flowers donations in memory of Joe may be made to the American Red Cross or Red Cloud Indian School, 100 Mission Drive, Pine Ridge, SD 57770. Please share your memories with the family at our online guest book at  thompsonfuneralhomelebanon.com

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