John Edward Gomarlo, age 71, of Winchester, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Monday, March 15, 2021, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Keene, after a period of declining health.
John was born in Keene on April 19, 1949, to Thelma (Putnam) and the late Edward John Gomarlo. He was son-in-law to the late Tillie and Red McCormick of Hinsdale.
John was proudly raised in Winchester and graduated from Thayer High School in 1967. He was a three-sport athlete, class president, and honor student. John attended college in Boston, earning a business degree, and returned to his cherished hometown to marry his (rival) high school sweetheart and to start a family. Ellen (McCormick) and John were married on June 27, 1970, at St. Joseph Church in Hinsdale, and celebrated fifty golden years this past summer.
As a loyal son, John co-owned and operated Gomarlo’s Market on Main Street for years, before selling and starting a new business, J&G’s Service. From there, he pursued special interests for the town, including writing and procuring significant grants, and held the positions of Landfill Superintendent, Town Administrator, Public Works Coordinator, and Deputy Health Officer, until his “retirement.” John was an integral part of several community task forces, namely the Industrial Development Commission, the AC Lawrence Tannery Brownfield, RED Committee, and Ashuelot Covered Bridge Project, which became his passion. He was also on the Board of Directors for Southwest Regional Planning Commission and its subsets: Brownfield, Transportation, and Economic Development. He was a member of the Keene Elks Lodge #927 and Winchester VFW Auxiliary, Post 3968.
John remained civically engaged with the town by reading, writing, watching, listening, volunteering, and participating as much as he was able. The livelihood, well-being, and character of Winchester and its citizens were paramount, priority #2, following treasured time with his brood (both family and friends) home or “up north,” at “camp” in Freedom.
John relished “Sunday at the Races,” be it watching his prized harness racehorses, especially Charmax, at the track, or NASCAR, on a big screen. John also loved a little healthy competition among his family and friends and indulged in various pools, raffles, and lotteries. In his more active years, he enjoyed fishing, hunting, throwing horseshoes, tending to his animals on Fenton Hill Farm, playing cards, frequenting the local watering holes, touring the “scenic routes,” Sunday driving to local landmarks, and spending time near Daytona Beach, Florida. He valued his time alone and with others and prized his heritage and traditions.
John was both a man of his word (a gentleman’s handshake would do), and a man of few words who said a lot. He was the rare individual who could walk into a room full of strangers and return with a trail wide with friends. He did not need to command a room, nor did he, he just had a presence: subtle, yet effective; conventional, yet progressive. John was a mild talker and a fierce listener, an amazing writer and an incredible speaker. To many, John was a humble, simple, easy-going, and quiet man. To few, he was a proud, complex, composed, and soft-spoken guy. He may have been stubborn, old-fashioned, and set in his ways, but he was always calm, cool, and collected . . . until the rare times he wasn’t.
We can all agree that John’s character shone through his kind spirit. He lived a life of service to others, from picking up known and unknown hitchhikers, offering roadside assistance, rooming and boarding complete strangers or “new friends,” fostering several people and animals, taking folks under his wing, delivering groceries to the elderly, providing for the disenfranchised, offering remarkable advice, lending a hand; generally, looking out for everybody, never expecting or accepting a return, and always putting others before himself. Quite simply, he showed up!
Whether you knew John intimately or casually, you can surely recall being a victim of, attendee to, or participant in a camp song, a dance floor jig, an impromptu band, a bonfire legend, a foolish word or phrase, an absurd joke, a top-secret magic trick, or a nonsensical non-sequitur. His trademark humor of dry wit and bold pranks will continue to be imitated but never duplicated. Whether it’s the smiling with his eyes, the shaking of his head, the jerking of his full upper body, or the turning of a sly smirk, freeze that moment because it’s your gem to hold on to, special and unique, just like him.
During these unprecedented times, John constantly acknowledged how we have all endured so much loss and suffering. (Life is too short!) Because actions speak louder than words, please honor him with his famous last ones, his perennial words of wisdom, both uttered and illustrated: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
Besides John’s beloved “dear,” Ellen, and his mother, Thelma, he is survived by his children: Jennifer Howe and her husband Matt of Winchester; Allison Odoardi and her husband Jay of Hamilton, MA; Bobbi Jo Ball and her husband Jeffrey of Winchester; and Edward John Gomarlo II and his wife Megan of Swanzey; his ten grandchildren: Hannah, Sarah, Brandon, Ashton, Vanessa, Isabella, Gavin, Harper, Kingslee, and Briar; his siblings: Cindy Moffitt and her husband William; Jerel Gomarlo and his wife Bobbie; Barbara Black and her husband Robert; and Joel Gomarlo; sister-in-law, Mary Kowalchyk; several adored nieces and nephews; lots of other faithful family and friends, including his steadfast physician and pal, Dr. John Glick. John was also predeceased by brothers-in-law, James Nolan McCormick II and Harry Kowalchyk, Jr.
Calling hours will be held on Sunday, March 21, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., in the chapel, with a service to be held at 12 p.m. In keeping with CDC standards, masks and social distancing will be required. A burial and a gathering to celebrate the life of John will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in John Gomarlo’s memory can be made to:
45 Hollis St.
Manchester, NH. 03101 or
The National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges
535 Second NH Tpke.
Hillsboro, NH. 03244.
Cheshire Family Funeral Home, 44 Maple Ave., Keene, NH. 03431. WWW.cheshirefamilyfh.com