CANFIELD - Stephen R. Krivonak, 74, passed away peacefully early Sunday morning, May 10, 2020, at Hospice House following a brief and courageous battle with lung cancer.
Stephen, affectionately known to all by his nickname, “Sheeny” was born March 1, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York, and was the son of late Stephen J. and Helen Gerace Krivonak.
A tremendous husband, father, grandfather, and family man, Sheeny was also a well-regarded and skilled baseball player and coach. It was in Brooklyn as a small child where Sheeny first showed precocious athletic ability. His mother often told a story of how the older boys in the neighborhood were fascinated by her little boy, just four years of age, who could hit a baseball over houses.
As a child, Sheeny moved with his family to Ohio and grew up on the westside of Youngstown, just a few blocks from Mill Creek Park’s Rocky Ridge fields. He spent his summers playing baseball and practicing there under the tutelage of Bob Slevin, who played an integral part in developing his love and skill for baseball. His biggest fan was his mother, who joyfully attended all of his games, despite the protests of his little sister, Beth, who was always in tow.
Sheeny graduated from Chaney High School in 1964. During the summers of his high school years, he played Class B baseball. His manager and mentor, Fred Faiver, honed many of his skills, but mainly taught him to be the coach he eventually became. His abilities earned him a full scholarship to Kent State University where he played varsity baseball all four years. As a player, Sheeny was good enough to be invited to try out for both the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates.
He graduated from Kent State with a B.S. degree in Education in 1969, and earned a Masters degree in Special Education from Y.S.U. Sheeny taught Special Education at Salem High School for many years until his retirement in 2003.
After college, Sheeny found his passion for which he will always be remembered - coaching baseball. He had the remarkable ability to bring out the best in his players, and instilled a positive mindset, a tireless work ethic, and perseverance on and off the field. His motto was, “practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” He believed players would improve through repetition, fundamentals, and hard work.
He began coaching at age 22, managing the Class B baseball team, Campbell A.C. His coaching success was instant, winning three consecutive City Championships. In 1971, after winning the Class B City Championship, Sheeny’s Campbell A.C. team went on to be the first local team to win the NABF (National Athletic Baseball Federation) national tournament. After a hiatus from coaching, Sheeny repeated this accomplishment with his 1984 Campbell A.C. team. Both the 1971 and 1984 national championship teams were recognized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
In 2009, Sheeny was inducted to the Chaney High School Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2013 into the Curbstone Coaches.
Sheeny always gave credit to the coaches and players with whom he worked. He recognized it was their drive and persistence that made for his success. Over the years, he was proud to have worked with thousands of kids teaching them not only the fundamentals of baseball, but important life lessons as well.
Although his passion was baseball, his true love in life was his family. On March 16, 1974, Sheeny married Elaine Musolino, a real baseball fan and the love of his life. She supported him through all of his endeavors, big and small. They loved taking family trips to places near and far. Together, they were blessed with two wonderful sons, John and David.
Sheeny enjoyed watching Johnny’s baseball games and David’s theatrical performances. Nothing brought him more joy than seeing his sons thrive and find success and happiness in life. He was a proud “Papa” to his grandchildren, who were the apple of his eye. Sheeny loved watching them play sports and just being around them would light up his face.
He enjoyed life to the fullest. There was always laughter around when he was in the room. Sheeny touched many lives in different ways, and he will be missed dearly by many, but no one will miss him more than his loving family.
Always an optimistic person, Sheeny’s legacy will live on through the many lives he so positively impacted. He was a great motivator and competitor, and had the rare ability to make one feel like an old friend. Just thinking of him would make many laugh and smile. His memory will stay alive with all who knew him.
Sheeny is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Elaine Krivonak; two sons, John R. (Jennifer) Krivonak of North Royalton and David A. Krivonak of Arlington, Va.; his wonderful sister, Beth (John) Nyers of Canfield, whose family was an important part of his life; three grandchildren, Ryan, Daniel, and McKenna; a sister-in-law, Lynne McClellan; an aunt, Dorothy Barbato; a niece, Kim (Josh) Motley; and great-nieces, Hannah and Gabrielle.
Besides his parents, Sheeny was preceded in death by his in-laws and by many aunts and uncles.
Due to the current virus pandemic, a private funeral service will be held Saturday morning, May 16, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 477 N. Meridian Rd., Youngstown. Private committal services will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown. A public Celebration of Life will be scheduled for a later date. Please check back to the funeral home website for the date and time as information becomes available.
“We love you, Sheeny. Rest in peace until we all meet again.”