Lionel W. Barrick trained as an Army paratrooper, but when the Korean War started, he decided that he could better serve as a medic, saving lives.
Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 15th Infantry Regiment, he was caught in the thick of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, where Chinese and North Korean troops pushed back American and United Nations forces in bitter cold weather in December 1950.
Seriously wounded by shrapnel from an exploding grenade, he and another soldier had to conceal themselves on the battlefield for two days before they were rescued, unable even to eat their C rations because they were frozen.
After undergoing surgery in Pusan, South Korea, he was presented with the Purple Heart by Gen. Omar Bradley, then spent nine months in a military hospital in Japan.
According to his son, Joseph, Mr. Barrick never spoke of the war until after he retired and took a vacation trip to Hawaii with his wife.
Their hotel was hosting a convention of Army veterans, He spoke to a retired general in the lobby and discovered that the veterans were survivors of the Chosin Reservoir battle called “The Chosin Few.” Invited to join, he became a life member and attended many of their events, including a presentation of commemorative watches by the president of South Korea in Seoul.
“He wore it every day,” his son said.
Mr. Barrick died Tuesday in Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Lewiston, after an extended illness. He was 85.
Born Jan. 20, 1932, in Niagara Falls, Lionel William Barrick attended Trott Vocational High School. Days after he turned 17, he convinced his parents to give him permission to enlist in the Army and he trained in the Army Jump School at Fort Benning, Ga.
Discharged as a corporal, he returned to Niagara Falls and became a construction worker. He joined Laborers Local 91 in 1958 and worked on several major Niagara County projects, including Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, Niagara County Community College and the Somerset power plant. He retired as a union steward in 1989.
He moved to Ransomville in 1967, built a small plaza on Ransomville Road in the center of the hamlet, borrowed a recipe from a friend who operated a pizzeria in Niagara Falls and opened the community’s first pizza parlor, which he operated for about 10 years. It was named Pat’s Pizza, after another friend who assisted in the shop during its early days.
“Every night of the week, every Catholic church and every fire company in the area had bingo,” his son said. “Our pizzeria made all of the pizzas every single night for all the bingos.
“He never hired anyone outside the family. He did it because he had seven kids and he wanted to keep us out of trouble. He also wanted to teach us the value of a dollar. The day the last kid in the family graduated from high school, he sold it,” Joseph Barrick said.
Mr. Barrick also invested in residential real estate and maintained several rental properties in Ransomville, Wilson and Newfane.
He was a Republican committeeman for 25 years and an exempt member of the Ransomville Volunteer Fire Company for 49 years. He also coached peewee hockey and was a volunteer deliveryman for Meals on Wheels for 10 years.
An active churchman, he was treasurer of the Holy Name Society at the former St. Teresa’s Catholic Church in Niagara Falls. Later he became a 50-year member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Ransomville, where he was a member of the building committee for Father Newer Hall and a Eucharistic minister.
He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Cursillo member since 1984 and a member of the First Friday Club.
He also was a member of O. Leo Curtiss Post 830, American Legion.
He and his wife, the former Esther Stawarz, who worked in human resources for Carborundum Corp., would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary next month.
Survivors also include three daughters, Rhonda Stephenson, Darlene Alvers and Francine Mawhiney; three sons, John, Joseph and James; three brothers, Ronald, Howard and Walter; 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 in Immaculate Conception Church, 4671 Townline Road (Route 429), Ransomville.