The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 26, 2013

Person of the Week: ‘Mr. Memorial Day’: For 40 years, Legionnaire has been honoring fallen vets

Frank Sojak

— John Furcho will be among members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Central City who will be honoring fallen veterans today, Memorial Day.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with members of both posts conducting services at about nine cemeteries in the Central City and Shade Township areas.

Both posts then will hold a service at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial in Central City Community Park.

The invocation and benediction will be given by Deacon Thomas Beavers of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in New Baltimore.

The Shade-Central City High School marching band will play patriotic music. Boy Scouts from Central City and Shade Township will conduct the flag-raising ceremony.

The keynote speaker will be Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk.

The names of all veterans who passed away since last Memorial Day will be read.

Furcho said about 800 veterans have been remembered that way over the years.

“It’s important to honor veterans for what they have done for our country,” Furcho said about the event.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of working with veterans from my post and the VFW on the Memorial Day event. A good many people come to help each year.”

The Navy veteran said he appreciates all the groups and speakers who help each year and the support of residents who attend the event.

Furcho, who had been a lecturer at Our Lady of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Central City for more than 20 years, also is in charge of military funerals at his post. He organizes veterans from his post and the VFW post in Central City to conduct military graveside rites for deceased veterans.

He also is his post’s liaison for veterans affairs, helping veterans with a variety of needs.

He has organized the Veterans Day parade for both posts for 40 years.

“It’s to thank veterans for what they have done for our country,” he said about why he is active with the post.

For his efforts, Furcho, a Central City resident, is the Person of the Week.

His wife, Jane, said her husband has always been dedicated to veterans.

“They have given their time and lives for our country, and that’s why he does this. He loves it.”

She said she, their two daughters and granddaughter affectionately call her husband Mr. Memorial Day.

She said her husband has been adjutant for his post for more than 40 years and served as commander in 1975.

She said he served on borough council in the 1970s; was Pennsylvania American Legion Adjutant of the Year in 2000; had been recognized by the Marine Corps League for his efforts to honor the American flag; was honored by the Shade-Central City School District on Veterans Day in 2002 for his service to the community; and was named Man of the Year by the Central City Chamber of Commerce in 2006 for service to the community.

Bob Mulcahy, a friend of

Furcho and owner of Mulcahy Funeral Home, Central City, said Furcho is dedicated to veterans and the American Legion.

“Being a funeral director, veterans die,” he said. “Most families want the military rites to honor their loved one and Furch is my “go-to” man.

“If a veteran died today, I would call Furch tonight to tell him that they want military graveside rites.”

Furcho would make sure a ritual team and a bugler were

at the cemetery and is always present himself, Mulcahy said.

George Bestvina, a fellow member of the American Legion post in Central City, said Furcho is a good leader.

“When he takes a job, he takes it seriously,” Bestvina said. “The man is really terrific.”

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