Peter Leslie Kolanchick

Peter Kolanchick

KNOX — “You name it and my father probably drove it.”

Denise Peister said this in remembering her father, Peter Leslie Kolanchick, who died on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, just one week after his 62nd birthday.

Mr. Kolanchick, a native of Knox, died in Platte City, Missouri, where both his daughter and son, Josh Kolanchick, and their families, make their homes. His two children had brought him there, his daughter said,  so he could be close to them and his grandchildren.  Mr. Kolanchick had been a resident of the Guilderland Center Nursing Home since 2003, prior to returning to Missouri, which was home for him from 1995 to 2000.

Born in Albany on Nov. 13, 1954, Mr. Kolanchick was one of seven children born to John Chester Kolanchick and his wife, Eldaline Marie (née Crawford). The family had a farm on the Altamont-Knox Road.

Mr. Kolanchick’s love of trucks and driving began as a boy on the family farm, where there were always plenty of opportunities to drive trucks and tractors long before he got his first driver’s license. His father’s role as a seller of Mack trucks  was another impetus, his daughter says.

A 1972 graduate of Guilderland High School, Mr. Kolanchick worked as a truck driver for local companies, including the Golub Corporation, and then as an over-the-road driver, while continuing to help on the farm. At one point — ”He was a  good carpenter,” says his daughter—Mr. Kolanchick built a home for his family off Bozenkill Road.

In 1995, he received a job offer from a Missouri company and moved there, making cross-country trips from his mid-country base.

“He would be gone for two weeks at a time,”  Mrs. Peister said, “and then home for two days.” She was 10 years old when the family moved to Missouri.

Times with their father are vivid memories for both children, perhaps because time with him was a rare treat.

“We used to sit together to watch ‘Dawson’s Creek’ on TV, and he would trim my nails as we watched,” Mrs. Peister recalls.

His son, Josh, prizes the memory of fishing for walleye in Minnesota. “We would drive there all the way from New York,” he says.

A lover of both hunting and fishing, Mr. Kolanchick was also a big fan of  NASCAR — the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing — events.  

Both his son and daughter agree that he loved good food, especially good barbecue. “We liked to joke he was a food-connoisseur,” Denise says.

Both of his children admired, too, his prowess at cutting firewood. “He was just good at it,” Josh says, “and really enjoyed it.”  The cords of wood he cut provided some extra income, too.

“He was a hard-working man,’ his daughter says of him.

In 2001 , Mr. Kolanchick returned to Albany County, in poor health.

He must have given up driving big rigs reluctantly; it had been a lifelong love.  And though his two children must have regretted his long absences, they must also caught his love of the open road.

“I never expected to move into the profession,” his son says. But he did. Both he and his sister are now over-the-road truck drivers  themselves.


Peter Leslie Kolanchick is survived by his son, Josh Kolanchick, and his wife, April; and by his daughter, Denise Peister, and her husband, Noah; and by his children’s  mother,  Judy (née Van Buren) Kolanchick.

He is also survived by two stepchildren, Peter Bashwinger and his wife, Kathy; and Randy Bashwinger and his wife, Jessica; by three brothers, Mark Kolanchick, Gary Kolanchick, and Paul Kolanchick; and by 15  grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and many friends.

His mother, Eldaline Kolanchick, died before him, as did an infant sister and two brothers, John D. Kolanchick and Brian Kolanchick.

Donations in his memory may  be made to the American Diabetes Association, 2 Pine West Plaza, Building 2, Suite 204, Washington Avenue Extension, Albany, New York 12205.

Arrangements were by the Hixson-Klein Funeral Home in Smithville, Missouri.

His family says they are planning a celebration of Mr. Kolanchick’s life and a barbecue in his honor to be held on a date and at a location in the Hilltowns to be announced.

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