Sylvester Joseph Kirstukas died January 5, 2022, in Catonsville, MD. The cause was a combination of health problems, including dementia. He was born April 1, 1932, in Baltimore City, to Lithuanian-American parents Felix and Sophia Kirstukas, who preceded him in death. Also preceding him in death were brothers Bernard, Felix, and Edwin, and sisters Eleanor and Frances.
Sylvester’s first name was shortened by friends and family to either “Vet” or most often “Kris.” A childhood bout with scarlet fever left Kris with a hearing problem that got progressively worse with age until he could not hear at all. Despite that obstacle, he was a cheerful and natural-born organizer and leader.
Kris graduated in 1950 from Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, where he ran track and cross country and wrestled. He was among the early adopters of the running craze that swept the country in the 1960s and the love of running, and competition, continued all his life until his hips and knees (and their replacements) wore out.
Kris served in the U.S. Air Force from 1950 to 1954 and completed a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola College in 1959.
In 1957, Kris married Joan Saffran. She died months later from a fever after getting caught in the infamous March 1958 blizzard, leaving him a widower at 25 years old. Through the Catholic young adults organization called Units, Kris began to recover from that traumatic year. He formed lifelong friendships and met Ann Golden, who would become his partner for the remainder of his life. Kris married Ann in 1959 and they were together for more than 60 years until her death in 2020. Kris and Ann had three children: Steven, Donna, and Paul.
Kris and Ann were among the first group of home buyers in the Heritage neighborhood of Catonsville in 1960, and lived there for 50 years. Kris served in various leadership roles, including president, in the Heritage Community Association. Kris organized summer neighborhood picnics at Patapsco State Park for dozens of families, planning enough activities to keep all entertained up through the much-anticipated pie-eating contest.
Kris followed his kids into their sporting activities and proudly served Catonsville youth sports in many ways: wrestling commissioner and coach, baseball coach and umpire, and football coach. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was a father figure to many, whether dispensing guidance or just providing transportation.
Kris was employed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory from 1961 until his retirement in 1992. He ended his career there as Supervisor of Purchasing.
In his retirement, Kris served as treasurer and president for the Hearing Loss Association of Greater Baltimore. He was remembered as a constantly cheerful contributor and role model. Kris and Ann hosted the chapter’s holiday party for many years. They also used retirement to travel throughout the United States and the world.
Kris and Ann moved to the Charlestown Retirement Community in 2009. Kris was active in helping with the annual treasure sales and enjoyed participating in sports year-round. Kris played on the softball team as catcher and designated runner. Always up for a challenge, he also played bocce ball, shuffleboard, and team triathlon.
Kris and Ann were generous benefactors of Loyola University and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Kris is survived by his three children: Steve Kirstukas and wife Tina of Avon, CT; Donna Kirstukas Noel and husband Billy of Oakton, VA; and Paul Kirstukas and wife Anne of Timonium, MD; six grandchildren, Alex, Allison, Will, Katie, John, and Grant; and numerous nieces and nephews. The family is particularly grateful for the companionship provided by Kris’s nephew Larry Plunkett throughout many visits during the last several years.
The family hopes to have a Memorial Mass and Celebration of Life for both Kris and Ann when larger gatherings are again permissible.
Should friends desire, donations in Kris’s memory may be sent to the Alzheimer's Association, or any other charity of their choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Sylvester J. "Kris" Kirstukas, please visit our floral store.
Alzheimer's Association - Kirstukas