VENTURA, Calif. - Joseph D. Kitko, 92, passed away at his home Sunday, April 19, 2009.
Kitko was born March 11, 1917, in Madera, Pa., the son of the late Steven Paul and Susie Kitko. The family moved to a farm in Greene Township a few years later.
Kitko graduated from Greene High School and held a bachelor's degree in economics from Youngstown State University.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps, where he served as a navigator of the 351st Bomb Group in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He also served during the Korean Conflict. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and medals for Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, World War II Victory, National Defense, Air Force Longevity Service, American Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign and the Armed Forces Reserve, before retiring in 1967 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Following retirement, he settled in Ventura where he became a probation officer for the County of Ventura.
Kitko, an avid baseball fan, shared his love for the sport and for young people by leading the acquisition of land behind Arroyo Verde Park, the building of the diamonds and the establishment of the youth baseball league in its new location. Due to physical limitations, he resigned from the Foothill Little League in 1999. At a special ceremony, the major field at the baseball complex was named ''Kitko Field'' in his honor.
Kitko is survived by Virginia Kitko, his wife of 53 years; two sons, Michael Kitko of Danville, Calif., and Daniel Kitko of Ventura; a daughter, Michele (Frank) Reilly; and two grandsons, Kacian Kitko and Jake Reilly of Hawaii, and four sisters, Ellen Miller of Warren, Beatrice Slywczak of Jamestown, Pa., Margaret Stanhope of Kinsman and Lucille Huston of Wellsville.
He was preceded in death by four brothers, Frank Kitko, David Kitko, Matthew Kitko and Adam Kitko; and a sister, Pamela Kitko.
Memorial and military services have been held. Burial was at the Riverside National Cemetery.
Funeral arrangements were by Coast Cities Cremations.