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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

John Komarnicki

John Komarnicki c. 1945; Photo courtesy of Dave Komarnicki, brother

John Komarnicki
c. 1945

Photograph courtesy of
John's brother, David Komarnicki.

John Komarnicki

(A tribute by John's brother, David Komarnicki)

On May 24, 2004, my brother John was called away to his eternal home. As Christians believe, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). John was always a true hero to me, his kid brother. Though these words seem inadequate, I offer them in memory of a brother I will sorely miss.


It happened in John’s car today
     while paused to honor a traffic light.
I scanned his face … blinked
     and fell through time’s trap door
     where memory’s tour began.

I was a kid again,
     swelling with pride,
     proud enough to laugh out loud,
     to own a brother, fresh home
     from the war he helped to win.

     I rolled the window down and grinned
     as we rode through Chester Town.

Memory holds John flashing a smile
     etched on a face equal to the best
     ever fashioned with earth’s crust
     since God formed Adam’s from the dust.

His Spartan frame
     seemed as ready to run
     as sneaker-clad feet
     in a “pickup” game.

I blinked again
     in sync with an anxious horn behind
     that honked for us to go …
     zipping reverie’s curtain closed
     on memories of 53 years ago.

But in that blink from then till now
     five decades of time have traced
     fine grooves on his cheek and face.
     It’s a mystery how
     time transforms skin and bone
     from the taut drumbeat of youth
     to saxophone sounds still lingering
     behind wrinkled brow.

But in the lottery of time’s random whim
     time has been kind to him.

True, glasses now aid his eyes,
     but they’re still as blue as a cloudless sky,
     his laughter still as free
     as laughter ought to be.

Yes, his stride is slower …
     but you’d likely need a bike
     to meet his pace
     as he struts the ruts
     of a five-mile hike.

His shoulders are still as straight
     as a plumb-lined gate
and his grip still as strong
     as politeness will allow.

Could this be because
John spent his days
in family ways,
     raising children in fear of God
     and not of man?

And when he raised his hand …
     it was to help a loyal friend
     or punch the face of fear’s ugly frown,
     grab it daily by the throat
     and pin it to the cold hard ground.

Of such men earth’s fathers are proud
     and nation’s wars are won.
And when Heaven’s Father lifts John’s shroud
     to take his place in Heaven’s crowd
he will hear these words shouted loud,
     “Welcome home, my son.”

So, friend, take time to look at faces,
     faces you love,
     faces you’ve known for a while, 
     faces that pass you in the aisle
     at church, aboard a bus
     amidst the rush of a hectic life.

For faces, like clouds,
     alter as they move
     across the seasons of your sky,
     as age, like darkness, descends slowly
Until we squint to find
     memory’s faces we left behind
     at traffic lights long ago.

—David Komarnicki
Memorial Day, 1998





If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about individuals in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2004 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/17/05