Paul W. Chesnik Jr., a World War II Navy veteran and political activist, died Friday of bone cancer after an illness of about six weeks. The Dundalk resident was 77.
Born in Cannonsburg, Pa., Mr. Chesnik served in the Pacific from 1944 to 1948 on submarines, said his son, Paul D. Chesnik of Willards.
He settled in the Baltimore area after the war, working briefly at Bethlehem Steel, then running a tavern in Edgemere for about five years. He was a part owner of the now-defunct Madison Vending company until he went on full disability about 20 years ago because of hip and knee injuries suffered in an automobile accident with a drunken driver.
Mr. Chesnik was campaign manager for Democrat Louis L. DePazzo, who served four terms in the House of Delegates, then one term on the Baltimore County Council.
"We were very close. He was my campaign manager for about 18 years," said Mr. DePazzo.
Mr. Chesnik "about 30 years ago was severely injured by a drunken driver, who also was underinsured and paid about one-tenth of his medical bills," he said. "He had about 28 major operations to his knee and hips."
He added that Mr. Chesnik "was an old submariner, a tough old bird. He was tough as nails, but underneath he'd melt like butter, if you knew what buttons to push."
Mr. Chesnik changed parties after Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey's loss in the 1984 gubernatorial election to Parris N. Glendening, Mr. DePazzo said.
Last year, Mr. Chesnik worked for the unsuccessful campaign of former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who sought to return to Congress, and for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who was elected governor.
"I knew him in the political world." Mrs. Bentley said. "Paul was a very devoted and hard-working political operator, and even last year in a wheelchair, he was very active."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Dundalk.
In addition to his son, Mr. Chesnik is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Cecilia A. Kocur; two sisters, Margaret Etherington of Pottstown, Pa., and Dorothy Frankovitch of Cannonsburg; and a grandson.