Zenon 'John' Litwinowich, 96
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PORTLAND -- Zenon 'John' Litwinowich, 96, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, at the Skilled Care Center at The Cedars. He was a long time resident of North Deering.
John was born on Aug. 5, 1916, in Winslow, the son of Zenon and Sonia Litwinowich. A member of one of the legendary coach Bill Mansfield's Winslow High School basketball teams, John played in the 1934 State Championship game and the New England Tournament at Tufts University outside of Boston.
In 1935, John was back in Boston to attend Massachusetts Radio School where he received his Radio Broadcast License. His vocation utilized an interest he had developed as a boy when he had built his own radio, learned Morse code, studied for and received his amateur radio license (W1IOK) which he kept in good standing for the rest of his life.
While attending radio school in Boston, John supported himself by working at Bickford's, among other restaurants. He received one meal per day (no steaks!) plus a little pocket money that he used for rent and transportation. His transportation consisted of a pair of strap-on roller skates. He wore out his skates every couple of weeks on his commute from his room at the Cambridge YMCA down Mass Avenue, across the Charles River Bridge, and over Boylston Street to the radio school by the Boston Common.
After finishing radio school, John spent a year in the Naval Reserves and another on active duty on the USS Arkansas in Cuba. He returned to Maine in 1941 and worked as a Broadcast Engineer Technician at WRDO in Augusta.
He danced weekend nights at the Island Park Band Stand on Lake Cobbosseecontee in Manchester. It was here that he met Ada Margaret Pacelt, a Boston girl who was working in Gardiner. They fell in love dancing to the song 'On Moon Light Bay.' They were married on April 25, 1941, at St. Joseph's Church in Gardiner. John reenlisted in the reserves and he was stationed in Portsmouth, N.H.
A week before Christmas 1943, John shipped out for the Philippines where he served as Chief Radioman on the island of Emirau until 1945. After the war, he returned to work at WRDO in Augusta and later at Central Maine Power Company where he worked for 28 years as a Radio Technician.
John and Ada moved to Gardiner in 1946 where they raised their three children, Janet, John, and Michael. Ada died in 1965. The family continued to live in Gardiner until 1968.
John loved the outdoors. He was an avid skier and hiked. John and his son, Michael, climbed Mt. Washington and many other mountains in New Hampshire's Presidential Range. He walked
Baxter Boulevard into his 90s.
On May 5, 1968, John married Blanche Duprey Johnston in Portland. He, a widower, and she, a widow, filled the roles of Grammy and Grampy to John's seven grandchildren and Blanche's six grandchildren. John and Blanche provided loving support to Blanche's daughter, Jacqueline Eldridge, and her children during Jackie's terminal illness. John and Blanche established a special relationship with Jackie's oldest daughter, Julie Dolan and her family.
For over 30 years, John and Blanche were active members of the Round Squares Square Dancing Club in Portland. John and Blanche were regulars, square dancing weekly with the club and at conventions throughout the country. They danced their way up to the Challenge Level. Into their 80s, John and Blanche traveled, visiting family and friends on the West Coast, in Florida, and Northern Maine. After Blanche's death in 2005, John moved into The Woods at Canco Independent Senior Living Community. With the support of his dear friends, Norm and Letha Pease, John maintained his independence and established a new life. He was always up for happy hour, movies, or a trip out with his fellow residents to local restaurants, Portland Players performances, and Sea Dog baseball games where he was recognizable with his Red Sox cap, tall stature, and the company of his beloved companion, Eliana Molano.
John was predeceased by his two sisters, Val LaMontagne and Rose Poulin. John is survived by his daughter, Janet McDaid of San Diego, Calif., and two sons, John Litwinowich of Cambridge, Mass., and Michael Litwinowich of Redondo Beach, Calif.; Janet's husband, Edward McDaid, and their two children Michael and Ashley; John's wife, Clarice McDonald, and their children Jennifer Litwinowich, Sybil Wilen, Duane McDonald, Marty McDonald, and Michelle Ramos; and 10 grandchildren.
A period of visitation will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, at Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, 172 State St., Portland. Prayers will be recited at 10:15 a.m. at the funeral home, followed by an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at St. Pius X Church, 492 Ocean Ave., Portland. Burial will be in the spring at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Gardiner. The family will have a private remembrance for John on the top of Mt. Washington, later this summer. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.ctcrawford.com.
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on January 17, 2013
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