Stephen W. Molnar, 86, of Amarillo, passed away January 6, 2020. Steve was a kind and loving family man, a true patriot, a Texas Rangers fan, and an all-round good guy whose wonderful smile will be missed greatly by his family and friends.
Rosary is 6 pm Thursday, Jan. 9 at St. Thomas Catholic Church. Funeral Mass is 2 pm Friday, Jan. 10 at St. Thomas. Interment will be in Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.
Stephen William Molnar was born on May 4, 1933 in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the oldest child of Stephen and Anna Molnar. His paternal grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Budapest, Hungary in 1910 and his maternal grandparents, the Hanner’s, arrived in Pennsylvania from Neuhaus, Austria in 1905. After immigrating to the United States, both of his grandfather’s found work in the steel mills around Allentown and became naturalized citizens.
Steve grew up in Nazareth and after high school joined the United States Air Force and that service to his country became his career. On New Year’s Eve of 1956, he married Phyllis Lee Miller, who preceded him in death less than five months ago.
Steve and Phyllis first met one night on a dark country road in Maine when Phyllis had a flat tire. A young airman stopped to change the tire and, as they say, the rest is history. At their 50th anniversary celebration Steve toasted the assembled guests and then pulled from his coat pocket an old flashlight. It was the flashlight that he used in the 1950s to change the tire and to rescue Phyllis from her predicament.
Steve’s Air Force career took him to such locales as the sunny shores of Tripoli, Libya to Adana, Turkey, and South Korea, and the stateside assignments in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and New Mexico. And, except for the Alaskan and Korean tours, Phyllis and the family were with him every step of the way during these adventures. The final stop for Steve’s Air Force career was at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. After retirement from the Air Force, he became a civil service employee at Holloman.
When Steve and Phyllis completely retired in 1997, they soon took to the road RVing. Their starter rig had been an Airstream trailer, but before long they had a monster Winnebago attached to a trailer pulling their car. The couple would winter in Arizona and as spring set in and the weather warmed, they would make their way east, usually ending up in Phyllis’s native Maine where she picked blueberries in the summer and enjoy being once again in the scenic beauty of her home state where their story began. The couple traveled to Pennsylvania to spend time with Steve’s family and friends. After giving up the RV lifestyle the couple settled in Amarillo where they lived for 14 years.
As a father, Steve was a ‘life coach’ gently guiding his children along life’s path. He was supportive, insightful, straightforward, honest. He was devoted to his faith and gave back by quietly serving wherever needed. He often recommended the Book of Sirach as a guide for living life.
Steve had a love for learning and education. He earned an Associate Degree from New Mexico State University/Alamogordo and supported his children in their educational pursuits.
He enjoyed seeing his children build their lives and took joy in watching them grow and raise their children. He happily celebrated their milestones and accomplishments. He was ‘Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky,’ according to his high school yearbook, and that moniker stayed with him to his last day. He loved to meet people. He could talk to anyone. He smiled with his eyes and when the rest of his face joined in it was infectious. He loved adventure and the open road. His collection of state maps are a log of the miles driven across this country. His journals are a diary of the people he met along the way. He loved telling stories. He was funny. He accepted everyone. He was the consummate host who enjoyed bringing people together. He loved ice cream and was known to chase down ice cream trucks to ensure a grandchild (and himself) would get a frozen treat.
Steve and Phyllis had long and happy lives, and they leave a wonderful legacy in their three children and four grandchildren. Their kindness and smiles will be greatly missed, but there is comfort in the fact that after a brief separation they are driving down another road to their next adventure . . . together.
Once again, words are not adequate to express how Steve’s children appreciate the staff at Brookdale Sleepy Hollow for the friendship, care, respect and support they provided to their father. Thank you also to the hospice staff at Encompass Health all for the care you provided to our father and to us.
His wife Phyllis, his parents, and brother Bernard preceded him in death.
He is survived by his three children Mark (Sue) Molnar of Richmond, Virginia, Stephanie (Ronnie) Smith of Arlington, Texas and Mary Ann (Mike) Ellis of Amarillo; grandchildren Ryan Molnar of Richmond, Virginia; Jordan Molnar or Evanston, Illinois; Charles Smith of Arlington and Casey Ellis of Austin; sister Bernadette Molchan of Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, nephew Tom Molchan of Waverly, Pennsylvania, and niece Anne Hank of Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
To honor Steve the family suggests supporting the Wreaths Across America program by visiting the website at https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/