Frank Wawrynovic lived an incredible life filled with many challenges, hardships, uncertainties, and pain, as well as love, friendship, and generosity. He was a humble man who never questioned the obstacles he encountered along his life journey, but looked at each crossroad as an accomplishment and experience.
Born in 1917 in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania, Frank started out his career with the Civilian Conservation Corps constructing roads, dams, and bridges. He then spent seven years mining coal before he was drafted into the United States Army. Frank then spent the next two years in England and Scotland with the 29th Infantry Division until receiving his orders to participate in the invasion of Europe.
As an infantryman landing on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, Wawrynovic knew his future was uncertain. It was D-Day, and he was an Army Scout. Death and dying surrounded him. He survived the battlefields of France for fourteen days before catching gunfire and three bullet wounds that would leave him with lifelong disabilities.
After three months in an Army hospital in England and an additional sixteen months of hospitalization in the United States, Frank returned home. He married Stella Jedrziewski, who had served in World War II as an army nurse. He completed a bachelor's and a master's degree from Penn State, and together, he and Stella started their own company, Utilities Forestry Services, Inc., in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. They had three children, all of whom died at a young age.
Working together, the Wawrynovics' business thrived, giving them the financial resources to support many causes, including medical research that might help other families avoid the fate of the illnesses that caused the death of their children.
In 1997, the Wawrynovics established a scholarship fund at Penn State Mont Alto, the Frank John Wawrynovic Scholarship in Forest Resources. In 1998, through a charitable remainder trust, they established two endowments at the Penn State College of Medicine: the Barbara Jean Wawrynovic Endowment for Disabled Children, to provide money to support the treatment of patients with cerebral palsy and to conduct research, and the John Wawrynovic Leukemia Research Scholar Endowment, to support a young physician involved in researching the causes and cures of leukemia in children. A second scholarship at Mont Alto was established in 2000, the Barbara Jean Wawrynovic Memorial Health Endowed Scholarship. In 2004, the Wawrynovics liquidated the charitable remainder trust so they could early activate the two endowments at Hershey.
A second trust ultimately will provide additional support to the two endowments at Hershey, create the Frank J. and Stella J. Wawrynovic Allied Health Program Endowment at Penn State Mont Alto, as well as provide funds for the construction of the new Penn State Children's Hospital.
Though actively involved with many charities and causes, Frank and Stella never called attention to themselves or asked for recognition. They focused on helping others and doing what they could to provide assistance, thereby sharing their success. Frank Wawrynovic died February 9, 2005, but not before he and Stella had touched many lives. He leaves behind a legacy of generosity and kindness that will continue for years to come.