North Versailles Veteran's Life Was Enriched by Grandchildren, Bowling
Zlatos, Bill, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Despite eyes blurry from glaucoma and war wounds, and two toes missing on his left foot, Edward Kustra just missed bowling a perfect game by one pin on the last ball of the tenth frame.
"It was dead on, and the 10-pin wouldn't go down," recalled daughter Diana L. Kustra of North Versailles.
Edward J. Kustra of North Versailles, formerly of McKeesport, died Saturday, April 30, 2011, of acute renal failure and congestive heart failure in his daughter's home. He was 87.
He was born June 24, 1923, in McKeesport. His father, Leon, was a barber and his mother, Salome, was a nanny for a doctor.
Having lost their life's savings in the Great Depression, the family planted a garden in McKeesport so they would have something to eat. As a youth, Mr. Kustra had the job of watching over it to make sure no one stole their food.
He joined the Army in 1942 and served with the 88th Infantry "Blue Devils" in North Africa and Italy. He was proud to be among the Americans who liberated Rome.
His jeep, though, was captured by the Germans in Italy. He and a buddy jumped out when the vehicle reached the top of a hill, and they rolled down to their escape.
In another battle, he played dead among a group of corpses until some Americans found the bodies and poked him. When they discovered he was alive, he was flown to a hospital in Danville, Ky.
Mr. Kustra met his future wife, Marian Mettica, in a club in Glassport. When she spotted him in his Army uniform, she told a friend, "'That's the guy I'm going to marry,'" Kustra said.
He retired in 1986 as a brake tester for WABCO in Wilmerding. He worked for Kelsey Hays Wheel, Firth Sterling, TRW and National Tube Christy Park Works. …