A sad goodbye to my father-in-law
My father-in-law died on Memorial Day. I am every bit as broken-hearted as I was when my own father died 19 years ago. John Gurkovich was a truly amazing guy. If you know the character Jack Pearson from This Is Us, well, this was him.
Several months ago he was finally diagnosed, far too late, with stage IV lung cancer. John never smoked a day in his life. His daughter, my wife Aubree, wrote this beautiful obituary. I'm including most of it but leaving out surviving family and services info for the sake of the family's privacy.
"John Joseph Gurkovich Jr., 65, died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, May 27, 2019 at home in Piscataway following a battle with lung cancer.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the son of John and Myrtle (Rinehimer) Gurkovich, John spent most of his life in Piscataway, graduating from Piscataway High School and then Rutgers University with a degree in economics. Due to the job market at the time, John decided to further his education in computer sciences, which he spent the rest of his life doing. Servicing clients all around the world and working long hours into the night, John’s work ethic was one hard to find.
When John wasn’t working in the office, or in the last few years his home office, you could always find him working elsewhere. Whether taking on a new project at home or helping neighbors and friends with various tasks, John was the first to help those in need. A true “John of all trades,” there was very little he couldn’t do. From being the IT guy at the office where his wife works to refurbishing and rebuilding an entire swing set for his grandsons, John went above and beyond for everyone.
A devoted husband, a role model of a father, an adoring PopPop, a steadfast friend, and a helpful neighbor, John will be greatly missed by so many people. He left a lasting impression on the lives of those who were lucky enough to know him and his legacy will live on through them.
In his younger years, John enjoyed camping and photography, the latter so much so that he once set up a darkroom in the basement of his parents’ house. He also exceled in athletics, a wrestler during his high school years at Piscataway High School and an award winning coxswain on Rutgers University’s crew team.
His greatest love of all though was that of being a father. John involved himself in every facet of his children’s lives, from officiating swim meets to coaching various sports teams to being a Cub Scout leader, he took pride in everything his kids did and supported them in any way possible. He also loved vacationing down the shore with his family every summer, hosting game nights with friends, and tinkering with the latest gadgets.
Another love of his was his dog, Alfie, who he certainly has already been reunited with on the other side.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Uncommon Thread, ABA Services for Children with Learning Disabilities or The American Cancer Society."
None of us is doing too well right now but I’m trying to hold her up. This is a devastating loss to our family, and our two youngest children Cooper 2 and Atticus 3 are going to be soul hurt without their PopPop. Atticus who has autism had a very special connection with this man who never once judged him and who supported him with all his heart. Even my older children Jack and Mina were terribly broken up at the loss of their step-grandfather. We’ll all be okay, we just won’t be the same.
I wrote to a friend the other night that I believe it was Daniel Patrick Moynihan speaking on the death of John F. Kennedy who said, “We’ll laugh again. It’s just that we’ll never be young again."