Lt. Col. Grace M. Charney, 68, of Ford City, entered into eternal life on Thursday, October 11, 2018, at the V.A. Pittsburgh Healthcare System, University Drive Campus.
She was born to Michael "Kaiser" and Mary (Stolar) Charney on December 9, 1949.
She attended Holy Trinity Parochial School and graduated from Ford City High School in 1967. She continued her education at Slippery Rock State College, earning her bachelors degree in education in 1971. While at Slippery Rock, she was recognized by "Who's Who Among American College Students" and was inducted into two honorary fraternities, Beta Beta Beta and Mu Kapppa Gamma. Following her graduation, she was employed as a substitute teacher in the Armstrong School District from 1971 to 1973. During the summers, she organized and supervised the playground activities for Ford City's children.
In 1973, Grace joined the U.S. Air Force, and quickly rose through the ranks. During her twenty-year military career, she served our country at bases in Europe, North America, and the Philippines, ultimately being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1990. During this time, she undertook additional course work in business administration at Central Michigan University and DeVry Institute of Technology. From 1990 to 1993, she served in the Tactical Intelligence Cell, NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain AFB, Colorado, until her retirement. Upon retirement, Grace's military awards and honors included the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Medal with bronze star, and the Humanitarian Service Medal with silver star. It is an understatement to say Grace Charney has served her country and community with honor.
Returning to Ford City, Grace vigorously immersed herself in numerous community activities, among which was the Ford City Kiwanis Club. She served one term as president and as the local leader of the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership program from 1995 to 2000. She had also been a member of the Ford City Borough Council, where she lent her organizational and informational expertise in budgeting, fire protection, and water treatment issues. Grace had been a member of the Picnic in the Park committee, serving as the children's games chairperson. Perhaps where her impact was felt most appreciably is as a trustee of the Ford City Public Library Board, where she annually organized the used book sale held during Heritage Days. She had also actively pursued donations for the library for more than ten years in her mission to ensure that the citizens of Ford City will have a first class facility to access.
Grace was a resident expert on Slovak culture. She had studied and taken college courses in Slovak culture and heritage in her effort to preserve an accessible source of Slovak history for future generations. She was a seated officer of Jednota Branch 200, the Slovak Fraternal organization. She loved bowling, and was secretary of the Jednota Bowling League and a board director for the Ford City Women's Bowling League. Grace also participated in the annual Crop Walk, a food drive for the local food bank. She also free gave her time to the American Legion Post 654 and the American Legion Auxiliary. Grace served as the president of the Ford City Area Hall of Fame. She was also very active with Summerfest (formerly Heritage Days).
An avid singer, she was an alto member of the Armstrong Festival Choir (formerly Heritage Choir), Ford City's Solo Dei Gloria ensemble, and the Blazing Star Choral Society. She also sang in the choir at the former Holy Trinity Church, and Christ, Prince of Peace Parish. She was a member of Christ, Prince of Peace Parish, where she served as a Sunday morning Mass videographer, and coordinated the Living Rosary service held annually in the Ford City Park.
Grace is survived by her brothers, Zigmund F. (Marcia) Charney of Fairfax, VA, Raymond P. Charney of Ford City, and William J. Charney of Hakkettstown, NJ; and her sister, Elizabeth C. Cieri of Morris Plains, NJ.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by two brothers, Joseph J. and Andrew M. Charney.
Friends will be welcomed from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m., Monday, in the Welch Funeral Home, 1032 Fourth Ave., Ford City. Prayers of transfer will be said at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, in the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m., at Christ, Prince of Peace Church, with Father Raphael Glinkowski, O.S.P., as celebrant. Interment will follow in Holy Trinity Cemetery, with military honors accorded by the Armstrong County Honor Guard. To honor Grace and her generosity, her family asks that memorial contributions be made to the American Heart Association.