~~Chester “Chet” Franklin Stepien 94, co-owner with his wife Mary of the former Country Kernel Restaurant in Youngstown peacefully passed away October 27, 2017 in the VA Hospital of Buffalo surrounded by his loving family. A long time resident of Youngstown he was born on Friday April 13, 1923 in Buffalo to Joseph and Caroline (Kopera) Stepien.
Chet graduated from Youngstown High School in 1941, he attended Whitney Avenue Aircraft Training School in Niagara Falls and also attended Niagara University majoring in chemistry. He served in the U.S Army with the second armored division at Fort Knox, KY during the World War II era, he was honorably discharged. Chet was employed by Bell Aircraft Corp. in Niagara Falls as an airplane mechanic, assistant flightline foreman and rocket technician. He worked on the agena engine that transported astronauts off the moon and back to earth. He also test fired aircrafts including the P-39 Bell Pursuit, the P-59 and the P-63. He married his colleague Mary Capitan on June 9, 1945. Chet retired from Bell in 1986 after more than 40 years of dedicated service.
In 1950 Mary and Chet moved to Creek Road in Youngstown where they raised 6 Children and founded and operated the former Country Kernel Restaurant on Blairville Road for many years. Chet often emphasized to their children that “There‘s no place like home”. He was active at home until his final days in the hospital. He and Mary exemplified the benefits of working together as a family. Chet enjoyed helping his son; Steven with his landscaping business.
Chet was an avid sports fan who played basketball and baseball in high school, Chet enthusiastically followed the Duke Blue Devils, Buffalo Bills and the NY Yankees. He enjoyed family gatherings, cheering for his children, grandchildren and their teammates at school sporting events and proudly sharing his homegrown tomatoes.
Chet was the beloved father of Constance (Thomas) Hodick of Grand Island, Patricia (John) Clark and Steven Stepien all of Youngstown; Mary (Kevin) Gilman of Annandale, NY and Carolyn (John) Ruffino of Williamsville, NY. Beloved grandfather of Katharine Clark, Bradley Clark, David Gilman, Steven Gilman, John Ruffino MD, Thomas Ruffino, Richard Stepien and Janelle Stepien. Chet is also survived by a brother; Robert, many nieces and nephews and was predeceased by his wife of 46 years; a son Joseph who passed away October 27, 2002; also brothers Thaddeus, John and Richard. Chester Stepien’s family would like to thank Dr. Samuel Sirianni and staff, home caregivers; and the doctors, nurses and staff of the Veterans Administration for their compassionate and attentive care.
Friends may call at the HARDISON FUNERAL HOME, N.Fourth and Ridge Sts. Lewiston on Monday from 3-7 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday (October 31) at 10 AM from St. Bernard’s RC Church Second and Hinman Sts. Youngstown(Please assemble at the Church) with Msgr. David LiPuma officiating, burial will be held in Riverdale Cemetery.
If desired memorial offerings may be made to the Youngstown Vol. Fire Co. 625 Third St. Youngstown, NY 14174 or the Volunteer Program Office of the VA WNY Healthcare System, 3495 Bailey Ave. Buffalo, NY 14215. Please visit www. hardisonfuneralhomes.com for online registry.