Harry Carl Pecko, 84, of Ave Maria, Florida, and formerly of Union and Sumter, passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, due to complications from pneumonia.

Born on Aug. 24, 1933, in Columbus, Ohio, he was a son of the late Carl Anton Pecko and Kathleen DeVaughn Fordyce.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Elmeta Pecko.

Harry was a devoted husband to his wife of 59 years and loving father to his nine children, 18 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Survivors include his nine children listed in order with their spouses: Michael Pecko of Cape Canaveral, Florida, Mark Pecko of Rockledge, Florida, Theresa P. (Roy) Bryant of Sumter, retired U.S. Army Col. Joseph (Cris) Pecko of Cocoa Beach, Florida, Mary P. (Tracy) Reed of Ave Maria, Paul Pecko of Orlando, Florida, Anita P. (Jimbo) Whitney of Union, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John (Patti) Pecko of Woodbine, Georgia, and Patricia P. (Allen) Crawford of Huger. Harry is also survived by a half-brother, Carl Pecko of Fort Myers, Florida; and two half-sisters, Barbara Pecko Weise of Cardington, Ohio, and Linda Pecko Cain of Cardington.

Harry was a member of Ave Maria Catholic Church in Ave Maria and was a retired deacon in the Roman Catholic Church with more than 40 years of service. Harry was a former member of St. Augustine Catholic Church, Union, and St. Jude Catholic Church in Sumter. Harry led a life of service to his family first, church and community second and, lastly but not least, his country, having served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force. Harry had a love for music, especially big band. While in the U.S. Air Force, he moonlighted by playing upright bass and drums in a couple of different bands. He played the drums for many productions at the Sumter Little Theatre. After Harry retired from the Air Force, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies and an Associate of Science degree in institutional administration from the University of South Carolina (USC). At the age of 40, Harry was the oldest musician to play in the percussion section of the USC Marching Band. Harry also received an Associate of Public Service in criminal justice degree from Sumter Technical College. Harry was a member of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Association, South Carolina Alumni Association, former South Carolina Crime Prevention Officer of the Year, Police Officer of the Year, city and county of Sumter, and in 1980 was delegate to the Presidents White House Conference On Families, representing South Carolina. Harry was volunteering at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Immokalee, Florida, Catholic Church, before his brief illness. Harry and Betty's anniversary was Jan. 24.

The family is planning a memorial service on Jan. 27, which will be held in Sumter at St. Jude Catholic Church.

His remains will be laid to rest with Betty in a private ceremony at St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery in Sumter.

In lieu of flowers, please honor the bereaved and the deceased by making a gift to St. Jude's International Ministries Inc., a non-profit organization founded by the Pecko family that seeks to serve those who are the poorest among us. Gifts to St. Jude's International Ministries Inc. may be sent to 17 Azalea Drive, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931.