Cover photo for Gary G. Petak's Obituary
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1957 Gary 2024

Gary G. Petak

August 8, 1957 — March 12, 2024

Littleton

Gary Gerard Petak, 66, died on March 12th, 2024, at Willowbrook Place in Littleton, CO of complications due to frontal temporal degeneration (FTD) dementia.  He is survived by his wife, Jean (Foley); his two daughters from his first marriage to Carol (McCauslin), Kelly of Lakewood, CO and Lisa (Christopher Dalbey) of Santa Barbara, CA; his two grandchildren, Jasper and Georgia Dalbey, of Santa Barbara, CA; his mother, Georgiann (Fecko); and 9 of his 10 siblings.

Gary was born on August 8, 1957, in Johnstown, PA to Edward and Georgiann Petak.  As the second oldest of “Ed and Georgie’s” eleven children, Gary did his fair share of babysitting—even if his way included putting his little sister on top of the refrigerator for an hour or two.  Raised in a devoutly Catholic home, he served as an altar boy at Johnstown’s St. Francis Catholic Church and his faith remained important to him throughout his life.

After graduating from Johnstown High School and Penn State University with a degree in finance, family lore says that he hit the road in 1979 with two of his best friends from high school for a cross-country road trip.  But after their car was broadsided by a woman coming out of her optometrist’s office in Boulder, CO, the men stopped to find jobs to pay for the auto repairs—and Gary never left Colorado.  He raised his two daughters, whom he always lovingly referred to by their full names, Kelly Marie and Lisa Faye, in Littleton, CO with his first wife and college sweetheart, Carol Faye.  He had a rich career that he loved.  He was a banker—by profession and by passion—and spent most of his career at Key Bank and United Western, where he served as Chief Credit Officer until his retirement in 2011.  

Gary was also an avid golfer.  His love for the sport started in high school, when he would caddy at the local course (in fact, his caddy skills earned him a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, which he turned down to attend Penn State).  He was a member of Columbine Country Club for nearly thirty years and knew those 18 holes well.  He (tried and failed) to teach his daughters the proper putting form on the Club’s par three course and, on July 6, 2007, he celebrated his marriage to his Jean Marie by dancing in the Club’s main ballroom.  Gary and Jean bought a house on the 11th fairway.   For years, until Gary’s FTD made the sport too taxing, the two enjoyed teeing off with their friends within the Columbine Country Club community and playing courses across Colorado and as far as Hawaii.

While Gary loved his life in Colorado, his heart remained in western Pennsylvania.   Gary was a huge sports fan, but despite spending years on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, his allegiances always remained with the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and his beloved Nittany Lions.  Gary’s PSU Pride cannot be overstated; his boisterous Nittany Lion roar was legendary—you could hear it down the street on game days—and he held PSU season tickets (and a prime tailgating parking spot) for nearly four decades.  He rarely missed an opportunity to bring his daughters, brothers, and sisters (and his dozens of nieces and nephews) to State College for the Homecoming White Out game.  One of the happiest days of his life was seeing Kelly graduate from his alma mater, and under no circumstances would he wear red, lest he be mistaken for an Ohio State fan.

What Gary’s family will remember most about him is his generosity—especially with his large extended family, of whom he was especially proud.  What he wanted most was to share his passions and interests with his loved ones.  Though FTD took him far too soon, his family is grateful that so many will be able to carry their memories of the many Rockies games, PSU tailgates, Rolling Stones concerts, and days on the golf course that they shared with Gary.  His daughters will remember his patience during “beat up daddy time” and his unwavering commitments to their educations.   Gary always wanted the best for his kids, and he can rest easy knowing he fulfilled that dream in spades.   Lisa’s one regret is that Covid and FTD deprived Gary of the chance to get to know the grandchildren he so dearly wanted, but she will always cherish the brief time that Gary spent with his two grandchildren, Jasper Edward and Georgia Faye, who were each named in honor of Gary’s parents, “Ed and Georgie,” and who will be raised knowing that their Grandpa Gary loved them very, very much.  

According to his wishes, cremation will take place in Colorado and his ashes will be buried alongside his father and his late brother, Vincent, in Johnstown, PA.   Funeral mass and burial will be celebrated at St Francis of Assisi catholic church in Johnstown, PA on June 8th.

A Celebration of Life will be held in his honor in Colorado. Celebration to be held at the Columbine Country Club, April 7, 2024 from 1PM to 4PM.

In lieu of flowers, his family requests that charitable contributions in memory of Gary Petak be made to Brain Support Network, PO Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026, www.brainsupportnetwork.org.  

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Celebration of Life

Sunday, April 7, 2024

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