Michael James Jurnak ("Uncle Mike"), 94, was peacefully greeted by the Lord on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at Linwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Born in Taylor, he was the son of the late James and Eva Ruscin Jurnak. After his graduation from Taylor High School in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the time of World War II. After his discharge from the Navy, he earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology and a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Scranton and Millersville University.
Michael was a devout Catholic. As a young boy, he was an altar server at daily mass and was in the choir at St. John's Church in Taylor; as an adult, he was president of the choir, organized church dances weekly, was active in fundraising at the church, and proclaimed God's Word, serving as a lector.
Michael enjoyed an extensive career in public administration. He was the Director of the Public Assistance Program of the United Services Agency, encompassing Luzerne and Wyoming counties, supervising public assistance programs such as the Bureau of Children Services and the Offices of Aging, Mental Health, and Transportation. For the next 15 years, he was the Executive Director for the Department of Public Welfare, responsible for the overall operation of the Luzerne County Assistance Office. Michael was also President of the Pennsylvania Association of Executive Directors and President for the Northeastern Pennsylvania International Personnel Management Association.
Michael loved travel, both professionally and personally. Michael worked as a Volunteer Executive in Poland, where he provided recommendations to the social welfare department for a region with the highest unemployment rates. He attended conferences in Warsaw, Poland, which allowed him to visit the Auschwitz concentration camps and the Warsaw ghetto, and he resided in a twelfth century castle. He also attended conferences in Russia in The Moscow Kremlin. He traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to St. Petersburg. He went fishing on the Volga River, and he hunted bear in the mountains of Eastern Russia.
Upon retirement, Michael was a consultant to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was responsible for the operation of service centers when there was a natural disaster declared, including varied locations across the US as well as in Puerto Rico and Samoa.
Michael was fluent in Slovak. He loved to talk about history, politics, and religion. He took diligent care of his health, and he valued family, who will immensely miss him.
Surviving are his sister, Dorothy Nestor, 90, as well as nine nieces and nephews: Nancy Meredick and husband, John, Taylor; John Gary Nestor, Dushore; James Sopko, Ponte Vedra, FL; Christine Kochan and husband, Ron, Ponte Vedra, FL; Richard Sopko and wife, Sue, Clarks Summit; Diane Franklin, and husband, Terry, Gouldsboro; George Jurnak, Old Forge; Mary Louise and husband, Joe, Old Forge; Jack Solanik and wife, Linda, Denver, CO; and the late Marie Thorne, Baltimore, MD; as well as 26 great-nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by siblings Mary Solanik, Joseph, John and George Jurnak and Katherine Sopko. He was also preceded in death by his long-time, beloved friend, "Rocco" James Juliano.
Special thanks to his sister, Dorothy, who cared for Michael for the past six years, and special thanks to Glenmaura Senior Living, which he loved and to which he wanted to return. Special thanks also to Sacred Heart Hospice for your loving care in Michael's final days. Most special thanks to Linwood Rehab staff, nursing staff, and especially the exceptional social worker, Sharon Cullen, for showing Uncle Mike comfort, respect, and love.
Family and friends are invited to attend Mike's funeral, which will begin on Friday at 11:30 am in the Semian Funeral Home, LLC, 704 Union St. Taylor, followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 12:00 pm in Divine Mercy Parish, 312 Davis St. Scranton, by the Rev. Francis L. Pauselli. Interment with military honors will follow in St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Taylor. Friends may call Friday from 9:30 am to 11:30 am.
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