Katherine B. “Kay” Sefcik
Katherine “Kay” Sefcik, 87, passed into Eternal Life on Thursday, August 2, 2018. Kay was born on November 26, 1930, in McDonald, Ohio, as the only daughter of the late Steven Cvetnic and Maria Kovacich Cvetnic, and was a lifelong resident of McDonald. She was a graduate of Roosevelt Elementary, and McDonald High School. Kay married Leonard S. Sefcik (deceased in 2010) in October of 1951. She worked as the School Superintendent’s secretary for four years in the McDonald School System. Leonard insisted that she attend college and have her own career, a rarity for women in that time. Kay attended Youngstown State University and attained both a BS and MS in Education, and went on to be a teacher and administrator for 35 years in the Liberty School System.
Music and the Croatian culture were the center of Kay’s life. She played piano, cello, oboe, bass guitar, and drums, and was inspired to learn the button-box accordion. Taught by the late great Benzy Rathbone, then constantly developing her talent on her own, she taught several button-box students, and performed as a musician for 46 years: individually, as a duo with Irene Meser, and then with her lifelong friends in the Mahoning Valley Button Box Club. Kay was the organizer and a charter member of the Mahoning Valley Button Box Club, and led the group as director and president from 1979 – 2015, recording four CD’s (Volumes 1,2,3,4). As music brought the world together, Kay started the Button-Box Picnics/Jams locally, with the first picnic at Strossmeyers having over 1000 polka lovers in attendance. Mahoning Valley Button Box Club received the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame Award for the Best Button Box Group in 1998 and 1999. Kay also served as a Trustee for three years at the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame. Always eager to spread the happy music of polka, Kay conducted two European tours and several Caribbean cruises, featuring the music of the button-box accordion.
Kay was a charter member of the Penn-Ohio Polka Boosters since 1981, as well as serving in various official positions including president, and was editor of the Polka Calendar Newsletter for three years. A member of the Penn-Ohio Polka Pals since 2006, she performed on the Penn Ohio Polka Pals 30th Anniversary CD. As northeast Ohio’s perennial supporter of polka music and culture, Kay was happiest when she was the Polka DJ on WKTX “Jammin’ Buttons”, from 2001 – 2013 with Kathy Paulenich; hosting the WKTL (Struthers) “International Tamburitza & Croatian Hour”; as a member and substitute announcer on the Voice of CFU (WNIO – Youngstown, OH); and a DJ on the WSOM Sunday afternoon “Polka Show” (Youngstown, OH).
Kay was a member of the SNPJ Lodge 643; a lifelong member of the Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge 598 in McDonald, serving terms as the Treasurer and Lodge President; and a member of the local Musician’s union in Youngstown, Ohio.
Kay is survived by her children James (Lisa) Sefcik of Dunedin, FL, George Sefcik of Chester, W VA and Christine O’Connor of Largo, FL; grandchildren Dr. Roberta Kay Sefcik (Kin H. Leung) of Pittsburgh, PA, William Sefcik, Esq. of Charlotte, NC, Ian McCusker of Omaha, NE, Jason (Allison) Sefcik of Orlando, FL, Noah Isaac Sefcik of Oklahoma City, OK, and Michael O’Connor of Largo, FL; great grandchildren Nicholas and Sabrina Sefcik of Orlando, FL; and brother John (Roberta) of Eden Prairie, MN. Kay was preceded in death by her parents and her loving husband, Leonard, brother, Carl Cvetnic, and foster brother Steve Evinsky. Kay will be truly missed by her extended family and her polka music family.
The Sefcik family would like to thank Kay’s grandson, Michael O’Connor, who lived with and cared for her for five years prior to her death, enabling her to remain in her own home. Special thanks also to Kay’s loving companions and caretakers Donna Nagy, Lynn Cavicchi, and Cindy Rankin who gave so much of themselves to her loving care during her last years, and to the staff of Mease Manor Memory Care Center in Dunedin, Florida for their fabulous care and support.
A Catholic Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in McDonald, Ohio, preceded by a prayer service at 10:30 a.m. at the Blackstone Funeral Home in Girard. Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 8 at the funeral home. Interment will take place at Calvary Cemetery following the Funeral Mass. A reception will follow at the OLPH Church hall. Visit www.blackstonefuneralhome.com to view this obituary and to send any condolences to the family.