Deer 5

John M. “Poppy” Vota

July 3, 1936 ~ February 24, 2024 (age 87) 87 Years Old

John Vota Obituary

John M. Vota, 87 of West Newton, passed away 
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 at his home.  He was born 
July 3, 1936, SewickleyTwp. PA a son of the late 
George and Hetty (Fretz) Vota. In addition to his 
parents, he was preceded in death by his beloved wife 
Mary Alyce (Thorne) Vota in 2022.
John was a graduate of Sewickley High school and 
served in the National Guard. Prior to his retirement 
John was a brakeman/conductor having worked for the 
Union Railroad for 43 years. He was a past member at 
The New Mars Hill Baptist Church and a past fire chief 
of Rillton VFD. He loved spending time with his family 
and grandchildren and was lovingly known as “Poppy”. 
He also loved to spend time outdoors hunting, fishing, 
country music and was a lifelong collector of guns and 
knives. John was not a man of many words, but 
according to his family, when he spoke, it was always 
worth listening to. John was an avid reader and loved 
reading non-fiction, historical and informational books. 
It is said by those who knew John well, that he was a 
wealth of knowledge and could carry on an intelligent 
in-depth conversation with anyone on any subject. 
Throughout his years as a father and grandfather, it 
was common that when the children in the family were 
searching for the answer to a question, they would say 
“I’ll just ask Poppy, he will know”.
John is survived by his two daughters, Beverly 
Lancaster of New Alexandria and Barbara (Donald) 
Castor of Glassport; nine, special grandchildren, Carrie 
Nelson (Steve), Melissa Leonard (Christopher Smith), 
Drew (Cheyenne) Lancaster, Andrew (Billie Jo) 
Takach, Laine (Wesley) Cryder, Tracey Shvarts, Shane 
Smith, Haley Smith and Riley Wright; twenty-two, 
special great-grandchildren, Jordan, Tonya, Justin, 
Madison, Emily, Kristian, John, Gwyneth, Alyx, Kayla, 
Cory, Briana, Keaton, Benton, Nathan, Isabel, Lillian, 
Kathryn, Zoey, Eli, Ezra and Ethan; three, special 
great-great-grandchildren, Hazel, Henry and Hollis;  
two sisters, Connie Bickerstaff of Herminie and 
Ruthann (Jake) Greenawalt of Sewickley Township; 
numerous nieces and nephews great-nieces and great-
nephews. John will be dearly missed by his family, 
friends and neighbors.  Private visitation, services and 
interment in Mars Hill Baptist Cemetery were held, per John’s wishes.
JOSEPH W. NICKELS FUNERAL HOME INC., 404 Sewickley Ave., Herminie, 
PA 15637, 724-446-7251 in charge of arrangements. 
Please make donations to New Mars Hill Baptist 
Church c/o Cemetery Fund, 2302 Mars Hill Road, Irwin, 
PA 15642 in memory of John.  To send online 
condolences, please 


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