John F. Bochnowski, age 78, died on January 12, 2013 after an extraordinary life as a husband, father, grandfather, educator, ardent reader, dancer, golfer, and world-traveler. Born and raised in Calumet City, IL, John was the son of Esther (Makowski) Bochnowski and John C. Bochnowski. He thoroughly enjoyed watching childhood replayed in every broadcast of “The Christmas Story.” John’s ROTC training as an undergraduate at the University of Western Michigan earned him a commission in the United State Army. While on active duty guarding the de-militarized zone in South Korea, John met Ruth Frazee, a New England native with fiery red hair. That meeting blossomed into a 52-year marriage, which was celebrated with more than 100 family members and friends in 2010.
After leaving Korea, the newlyweds settled in Charlottesville, VA, where John completed his Master’s degree, and Ruth gave birth to the first of three children. Their next stop was Gary, IN where John began his teaching career. Eager to leave the smoke-stacks behind, the couple moved to Dover in 1964. John settled in at Dover High School, quickly becoming a popular history teacher – chaperoning dances and leading clubs. During his 32-year career with the Capital School District, he moved to Central Middle School first coordinating humanities curriculum and teaching advance placement classes then as the school’s first computer science teacher. He was also one of the original instructors in the James Grove Night School, where he helped adults achieve their GED.
History, however, would remain his passion, especially the American Civil War. He freely shared his knowledge as an officer, member and speaker for the Central Delaware Civil War Roundtable. He could walk any battlefield and make it come alive, especially for his grandson. It was indeed a blessing that one of the family’s last-outings was to see “Lincoln”, which he thought almost got it right.
John retired in 1996 to begin the type of retirement most dream of. He and Ruth would travel to Poland, Africa, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries. He became an officer and caller for The Dover English Country Dancers. Kicking up his heels would lead to his “big screen” debut in the independent film, “The Dish and the Spoon.” He volunteered at the Dover Public Library’s Book Barn. In his spare time, he honed his golf swing and enjoyed area courses as a member of MISCA, and worked out regularly at the Lifestyle Fitness Center, where he has been a member for more than 25 years.
After years of teaching country dancing and fascinating facts about the civil war at the Lifelong Learning Center in Lewes, he became a leader in bringing lifelong learning to older adults in Dover. Here too he brought his insight and sense of humor to the classroom. At age 77, he reminded his grandchildren how to live adventurously, when he led them on a zip-lining adventure in the Poconocs.
Page 2 of 2 - John F. Bochnowski will be missed by all those whose lives he touched, but especially his wife Ruth, his children, Bruce Bochnowski (of Milford), Jean Bochnowski and her partner Karen (of Norristown, PA) and Andrea B. Maucher (of Dover); his grandchildren, Zachary, Emily, Lucy, and Ravy; and his sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Friends of Dover Public Library, 35 Lockerman Plaza, Dover, DE 19901 or Delaware Hospice (who brought kindness and dignity to the end of his days), 911 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19810.
Memorial services will be held at 11 am, Saturday January 19, 2013 at Torbert Funeral Chapel South, 1145 E. Lebanon Road (Rt.10), Dover. Friends may call from 10-11. Interment will be in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Millsboro.