John Edward Spitko, Sr. of Ambler, PA, aged 96, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, May 6, 2018. He leaves three sons (John and his wife Linda; David and his wife Susan; Carl and his partner Lana); family member and caregiver Lisa; grandchildren Amy, Cindy, Susan, Michelle, Stephanie, Rebecca, Bryant, Randi & Taylor; and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by spouse Julia in 1976 and son Stephen in 1986.
As a member of the “Greatest Generation”, John lived a remarkably wide-ranging life while serving and taking care of the people around him. Born June 23, 1921, John grew up in Norristown and Bridgeport, PA. While attending Bridgeport High School (Class of 1939), John excelled in his studies (National Honor Society), theater (1939 Best Thespian Boy), singing and sports.
Thereafter, John enrolled in Georgia Institute of Technology as a mechanical engineering student while maintaining his loves of singing (Georgia Tech Glee Singers), theater (Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore) and sports (track, tennis and goalie for the school’s roller hockey team … which he did without wearing a mask). During John’s college years, on a trip home he met Julia Kadlecik his soon-to-be wife and the love of his life.
After Pearl Harbor was attacked, John left Georgia Tech during the second semester of his junior year (February 1942) to enlist in the Army Air Forces. During the war, as a pilot John “flew the Hump” – flying supplies from India over the Himalayas into China in non-pressurized, cargo planes whose flying ceiling was lower than many of the mountains. When enemy fighters were successfully shooting down the lumbering cargo planes, the flights were shifted to nights … with no radar or ground-based lights as beacons. In effect, John was flying blind through the valleys of the tallest mountains on earth. He also had stints as a P-47 pilot in Burma.
After the war, John and Julia settled down in Baltimore, MD, Norristown and then Ambler, PA and raised four boys. Using his prodigious “gift of gab”, for nearly 50 years John was employed as a salesman by farm-equipment wholesaler Hamilton Equipment. With the state of New Jersey as his territory, many of the dealers to which John sold equipment became not just clients but also personal friends.
John was active in his churches; first Grace Lutheran in Norristown and then Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler. In the late 1960s/1970s, John served on UDLC’s church council for years and was its President on multiple occasions. John also served on UDLC’s building committee which led to the construction of the church’s current sanctuary.
As John got older, he spent thousands of hours collecting and documenting the extended genealogies of the Spitko and Kadlecik families; communicating with people from all over the United States and Eastern Europe. This effort continued until John’s death.
A private graveside service will be held for the immediate family. A public memorial service will be held on Saturday June 23, 2018 at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, 411 Susquehanna Rd, Ambler, PA. Family visitation will begin at 10:00 AM, and the service will begin at 11:00 AM. There will be a reception afterward to which all are invited at a location to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please make memorials to Upper Dublin Lutheran Church or to the USO at www.uso.org.
Arrangements by Shaeff-Myers Funeral Home
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