Stephen M. Pondelis
January 15, 1922 – September 5, 2019
Stephen Michael Pondelis was born in Omaha on January 15, 1922 to Athanasius and Mary (Kmiec) Pondelis. He was the second of two children; predeceased by his brother, John F. Pondelis. His parents were both immigrants: his father from northern Greece and his mother from Poland. They settled in the Hanscom Park area of Omaha in a house that was like a little piece of the “old country” surrounded by terraced gardens, fruit trees, and grape vines. Stephen’s childhood friends were a diverse mix of first-generation Americans of many nationalities.
Stephen attended Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school through the eighth grade and was lately identified as the oldest living alum of that school. He was an avid ice skater as a youth and first met his future wife on the ice at the Hanscom Park lagoon when they were teenagers. He attended Omaha Technical High School, graduating in 1940. Stephen worked at the Union Pacific Railroad before his service in the United States Army during World War II. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands at the beginning of the war and worked at the Pentagon as the war was ending. He returned to the Union Pacific after the war and worked in the downtown headquarters for 40 years.
In June of 1947 Stephen married Jacquelyn Brice. They were married for 68 years before Jacquelyn passed away in November of 2015. They raised four children: Judith Paul of Los Angeles, Stephen “JP” Pondelis of Durham, Maine, Cynthia Schaab of Topsham, Maine and John Pondelis, who died in a car accident in 1974. Stephen is also survived by eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Steve and Jackie built a house in Westgate in 1957. When that house was destroyed by the 1975 tornado, they chose to rebuild on the same site and remained there into their late 80s. They loved their neighborhood and were among the founding families of St. Joan of Arc parish. Steve and Jackie attended daily Mass for 30 years before moving into the Maple Ridge Retirement Community.
After Jackie’s death Steve moved to Brighton Gardens. In his long retirement, Steve enjoyed gardening, tinkering, and golf. He had a sharp mind and wit, he could fix or grow anything, and he loved to dance. He was a dedicated family man and a cherished husband, father, and Papa.
Private family services to be held.