Saturday, June 9, 2012

An American Hero

Joseph Skrovanek passed away last week at the age of 93. He was a true American hero. Like many others of his generation he was a son of an immigrant family who originally settled in the coal mining country of Pennsylvania. He served in the Army during World War II and was in the fifth wave to hit the beaches of Normandy on D-day. I knew him as his financial advisor and friend for many years and like many other soldiers of his generation, he rarely talked about his military service. He was proud to be a veteran and marched with the VFW in the annual Memorial Day parade as long as he could, but that was it.

However, his real heroism came after the war. He came home to Fairfield, CT and married his sweetheart, Mary. He remained faithful to her through good times and bad for more than 70 years. They had two daughters who even after they had asserted their independence and did things that he could not understand, he continued to love them until the day he died.

He was by trade a plumber. I only met him after he retired but I cannot imagine that he ever cheated one of his customers or did shoddy work. Like many in his profession he was self-employed. He never worked for the government or a large corporation.  He had to buy his own insurance and fund his own retirement with regular monthly savings. Before he retired he made sure the house in Fairfield was free of any mortgage.

Joe and Mary always lived very frugally. He loved to garden and make his own wine. Mary was a skilled homemaker and cook. They would never let me visit them without offering something to eat and drink. We would sit around the table in their kitchen and spend more time discussing family than finances. They liked to talk about themselves but always showed a keen interest in me and my family.

Joe spent the last few months of his life in an assisted living facility. The day before he died Joe asked one of his daughters to drive him to visit his financial advisor and make sure all his affairs were in order.  They were.

Below find a video that in a way reminds me of the original Joe the Plumber, a true American hero. ###

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