Levittown historian and WWII veteran Steven "Sonny" Buczak recently passed away at the age of 87.
Buczak's wake was held on Sunday at the Bellmore Funeral Home in Bellmore and funeral services for Buczak were held on Monday at St. Vladimir Church in Hempstead.
As a historian, Buczak researched and wrote about Levittown as well as East Meadow, the latter where he was born. The marked his lifelong achievement, his 1914-1950 history collection of the community, by naming its digital repository after him.
Susan Kirby, Buczak's niece, said the she was honored to give the eulogy.
"To me, he was just a gentle nice guy...I never knew the hero that he was, and after learning all about him, I am honored to speak on his behalf," Kirby said.
On his 11th mission, Buczak and his crew were coming back from a run in Munich, Germany when Kirby said they ran into trouble over the North Sea and had to ditch the plane.
"It was 30 degrees below zero and the men were catapulted into the icey sea," she said. "Steve, the hero that he was, kept diving under the plane to release the raft...getting into the life raft would have jeopardized his fellow crew members, so he choose to stay in the water."
For Buczak's service in the Air Force during WWII he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest medal the air force gives.
Buczak worked as a historian for over 50 years and was the former Executive Director of the The Nassau County Library System is naming a project after him called "The Steve Buczak LI Memories Project," in which they are digitalizing his 36 books on Long Island History.
Buczak also started a window cleaning company after his return from the war, and his mother Mary Buczak sponsored 200 displaced Ukrainians. "They had to have an American sponsor and a job - Steve employed them in his cleaning business, cleaning over 600 homes in Levittown," Kirby said.
Kirby said that Buczak's life efforts rubbed off on his children. His son, Steve Jr., served in Vietnam in the Air Force from 1970-74, his grandson Steve Frederick served in the Marine Corp from 2004-09, while his granddaughter Tara is in the NY Air Guard in the Hamptons, and has volunteered to go to Afganistan this coming October.
Buczak is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Dotty, and four children Colleen, Steve Jr., Glenn and Kate, and a daughter-in-law, Sue Buczak, marred to Steve Jr. His three grandchildren are Eddie Flynn, Tara Colleen and Steve Frederick Buczak.