John was a man whose desire to help others was matched not only by his passion for learning, but also his love for family and friends.
Born February 17, 1927 in Cleveland Ohio, he was the only child of Anna and John G. Crnkovich. His parents were immigrants from Croatia and as he helped them study for their citizenship test his love of history, civics and U.S. patriotism was kindled. Friends he made in kindergarten were his friends throughout his life. He avidly told entertaining stories of their adventures growing up in Cleveland and summers working at Euclid Beach. He was greatly impacted by the preventable loss of life from the Collinwood School fire which set him on his career path.
Upon graduating from college he was first employed by Factory Mutual and worked in their Cleveland office in the Standard Building starting in 1952. A well timed coffee break would introduce him to the love of his life, Janet. John started in human resources and enjoyed working with people and matching skills to job opportunities. A new hire that turned into a friend related, "John took a chance on me and gave me a start at work that led me to a much better place than I was heading myself." John always tried to make interviewees feel at ease and they would often call him and thank him even if the interview did not end with a job offer. His travels to recruit new engineers allowed his cross country travels to accommodate his love of antiquing in various shops he would find along the route. Promotions lead him from Cleveland, to New Albany, IN where his family would grow, to Boston, MA where he would transfer to a branch of FM, Allendale where he began to work with loss prevention, then back to Hudson, Ohio. During this time he also worked as an adjunct instructor for the State of Ohio Fire Academy with a special focus on sprinklers. He retired after 38 years of service to start the next phase of his career with the Stow Fire Department. His dedication to fire prevention drove him to work for improving the department's Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating from a class 3 to a class 1, the only department in the state of Ohio to achieve that ranking. He held the work of all fire fighters in the highest esteem and respected and cared about them like family.
Dedication and commitment to the job at hand was a hallmark throughout John's life, this included service to his country during WWII. Not long after graduating from Collinwood High School he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He followed this with a short term of service in the Ohio National Guard.
His service was rewarded with the GI Bill providing him access to attend John Carroll University. He attained his Master's degree from the University of Louisville and his Doctorate in higher education administration from The University of Akron. John was initiated into several honorary and professional societies, Pi Lambda Theta and Tau Sigma Delta. An avid reader, John could often be seen with a book in hand. His favorite was the Bible. His deep religious beliefs led him to complete training as a Lay minister. John felt there was something new to be learned every day and entered the Kent State University Senior Guest Program and completed many courses of study in his 25 years of continuing education. He was often asked to guest teach in one of his favorite subjects, architecture where he coordinated projects with historical and socioeconomic perspectives that also included field trips so students could see first-hand the space they were attempting to impact. He often brought the students donuts to ease their long hours of work on projects. His attention to detail and facts was always spot on. He was the real life historian in many of his classes and sometimes corrected instructor's interpretations of an event having experienced it first-hand. He did more than participate in classes; John executed scholarships to assist students who might not otherwise be able to attend college. His philanthropic work was done quietly at all 3 universities he had attended. Skills shared in the classroom were also provided to the benefit of local communities. He took a keen interest and lent valuable knowledge for the rebuilding of the famous "S" bridge on the National Road in Old Washington and refurbishment of historic homes in Kinsman, Ohio.
John's love of work and travel afforded him his desire to see Europe, Australia, and Japan and also to visit his parent's villages in Croatia. John lost both of his parents early in life but was included into a new family. Meeting Janet Dickson was pivotal in his life and their strong love for each other enabled John to achieve all that he did. They were together for over 60 years but their love will endure eternally. He joined a family of 8 siblings along with their spouses and children and thrived in their close relations. He especially loved the nieces and nephews and organized many fun activities including bonfires and tobogganing in the winter. He adored his mother- in- law ultimately knowing her longer than his own and enjoyed taking her to historic sites in New England or making improvements on her farm house. John was a loving and nurturing father to his daughter's Ann and Joan, who adored his warmth, creativity, intellect and humor. John also enriched the lives of his grandchildren, John and James Seidel, instilling his love of history, art, and civics as well as play. He would build train tracks and play engineer, build scale sets for their action figures, pull them around in their red wagon, as well as indulge their love of playing monopoly. John attended their many sporting and musical events with great pride. John had many interests from membership in the Croatian Federal Union to being a Kentucky Colonel and varied hobbies such as the Ohio Bottle Club, he had boundless enthusiasm for life and all it had to offer, he was inquisitive, brightly intelligent, and deeply religious, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. What brought him the most joy was to be surrounded by family.
John was a greatly beloved man whose physical absence makes many hearts simultaneously ache for the loss yet fill with joy for having known him. Visitation was held at Redmon Funeral in Stow. A memorial service celebrating John's life will be held on March 30th at 3 pm at the United Methodist Church, 1435 East Main Street (St Rt 59), Kent Ohio 44240 at. A full military honors burial will take place at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery on March 29th for immediate family. In keeping with John's last wish, instead of flowers, donations can be made to the "Holy Cow" program through the United Methodist Church of Kent.
(Redmon Funeral Home 330-688-6631 HH 3-29-17)