Michael (Mike) Paul Hornyak passed away on Friday May 12th, 2023, at the age of 85 in Walnut Creek, CA. During his youth, he grew up in Elizabeth NJ, and Brooklyn New York. A child of “the greatest generation” he admired his uncle Pat who was a Tank Mechanic for General Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe, and his father’s work as a Buyer on The Manhattan Project. He was an avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan and saw all the “boys of summer” baseball greats play at Ebbets Field.
While growing up, Mike literally walked through snow to attend Catholic Prep Schools and was taught under the strict discipline of Nuns. He finished his education at Seton Hall University where he earned his Master’s Degree in Business. He started his professional career in Procurement at Elizabeth Pipe in NJ, then moved on to Chemico Construction in NY, and then to Hess Oil in NJ. As he moved from company to company, his reputation as a no-no-nonsense Buyer preceded him, and project managers at competing companies took notice.
One of those was Distinguished Flying Cross recipient Lt. Col Harry T. Stuart of the Tuskegee Airmen (The Red Tails). Harry was working for Bechtel Corporation as a Project Manager when he crossed paths with Mike. A relationship between the two of them formed, and Harry was won over by the combination of Mike’s comedic Brooklyn personality and rock-solid Procurement skills.
Harry offered Mike a job as a project Procurement Manager at Bechtel in Northern California. Mike who was a lifelong World War II buff, was honored to be hand picked by Lt. Col Stuart to work for him. It was one of his favorite stories to tell his son David as he was growing up.
So, in July 1976, the Hornyaks sold their house in Scotch Plains, NJ and Mike brought his wife Lorraine and son David to the Town of Moraga, California. Mike always talked about how he longed for the sunshine and “dry” heat of California while he was living in the cold, snowy, and humid climate of New Jersey.
Mike's duties as a Project Procurement Manager for Bechtel brought him all over the globe. Mike will be remembered for his purchasing exploits on the Ammonia Plants on the Volga River in Russia, the Natural Gas to Gasoline project in New Zealand, refitting the Chevron Refinery in San Rafael, and developing the world’s largest copper mine; the Antamina Copper Mine in Peru.
Mike finished up his career in 2004 working for the Mining & Metals Division. A retirement luncheon was held in his honor, celebrating his 28 years of service. Riley Bechtel was in attendance, and Mike was presented with a beautiful, signed Plaque celebrating his service as well as a Rolex watch.
In his free time, Mike enjoyed fishing and hunting. He was a ferocious reader, and especially enjoyed historical books. Mike loved going on trips with his wife Lorraine, enjoying nice dinners and fine wine, as well as spending time with his family and loved ones.
Post retirement, Mike could be found down in his garage. Surrounded by saltwater fishing poles, deer antlers, smoking his pipe or a cigar, reading the Wall St. Journal, and wearing his Rolex watch and a Bechtel Project Baseball Cap. When he put the newspaper down, he’d stare at and admire his beloved Mercedes-Benz. Neighbors that got to know him were treated with glory days stories he had compiled to memory, of working around the world for Bechtel, and all the characters he met that left a lasting impression on him. Mike will be remembered as one of those people who was gifted with the ability to be a true raconteur.
A short ceremony will be held in his honor at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette, CA at 12 Noon on Friday May 26th, 2023. Light refreshments and food will be served afterwards. In attendance will be his wife of 63 years Lorraine, his only child David, and his daughter-in-law Hanna. Please come and join us in celebrating Mike’s life, and if you’d like to share a story or two.
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