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Former Lower Burrell man among victims of plane crash

Updated 45 minutes ago

Lower Burrell native Bruce Pelynio died in a private plane crash Thursday shortly after takeoff from Atlanta-Fulton County Airport in Atlanta, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Pelynio, a 1971 Burrell High School graduate, was one of four killed in a single-engine plane crash that is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

All were employees of Sunshine Enterprise Inc., a Memphis-based wholesaler and distributor of construction and industrial equipment. They were flying from Atlanta to Memphis, according to Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal.

Three of the deceased, including Pelynio, were top executives of Sunshine Enterprise, which included the company founder and CEO Wei Chen of Memphis, who owned and piloted the plane Thursday.

Pelynio, 65, of Memphis, Tenn., is survived by his wife, Laurie Lawler Pelynio, and twin daughters, Shannon Pelynio of Memphis and Kelsey Pelynio Stiles of Windham, Maine. He has a sister, Dr. Jan K. Richardson, who lives in Durham, N.C.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Delores and Stephen Pelynio of Lower Burrell.

Burrell High School alumni passed on their condolences on their Facebook page, “Burrell High School — Class of 1971.”

Michael Lukas wrote, “Sorry to hear about Bruce…enjoyed the good time with him at Penn State and Burrell..Prayers sent..deepest sympathies Pam.”

Pelynio was president and CEO of Heli Americas, a Memphis-based company and Sunshine Enterprise equity partner he founded in 2007, specializing in material handling products.

Pelynio worked in the material handling industry for 42 years, according to Heli Americas’ website.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1975, according to a Penn State alumni website.

“Bruce loved life and was at his best when he was with people,” family said in an obituary posted by Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery in Memphis.

Pelynio was a car enthusiast and drove an Aston Martin. He was an active member in the British Car Club and a lifelong Nittany Lions fan, according to the Memphis funeral home.

In 2009, when Pelynio’s father was still alive, he arranged for his father to fly on a World War II airplane, a B-17, during the plane’s four-day visit at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe.

Stephen Pelynio, a World War II pilot, said in an Aug. 14, 2009, Valley News Dispatch article that his son’s surprise gift of the plane ride in the cockpit was “the greatest gift I could receive.”

Details of arrangements were not available. The Memphis funeral home suggested that donations in Pelynio’s honor should go to the Salvation Army and

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib. The Associated Press contributed.

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