As we observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, we are all reminded of the heroes in our lives. My biggest hero was my grandfather, George Kornegor. I loved that man.
I remember a tall, quiet man who didn't make much fuss over little granddaughters, but felt his love in many ways. He suffered a stroke when I was about six years old and was bedridden much of the time. Many of my memories are of his pet parakeet resting on his hand or walking up and down his paralyzed arm. He would gently stroke it's head with his huge fingers and it would chirp to him. To me he was a gentle giant.
Grandma would ask me to come over and sit with Grandpa to keep him company while she went to Eastern Star meetings once a month. We lived close by ...down a long gravel road, past a huge grove of pine trees that echoed your footsteps when you walked home in the deep dark of night. But that's another story.
I'd help get the TV tuned to the right station and adjust the rabbit ears (things were pretty snowy in those days) as he loved to watch the old wrestling shows of the 1950's. Of course, Gorgeous George was his favorite. It's the only time I ever heard him swear. His speech was a bit affected by the stroke, but there was no mistaking .... mumble, mumble, sumbisch! I almost laughed out loud, but had to turn my head so he wouldn't know I heard.
The only industry in our small farming community was the local brick and tile company. Grandpa was the superintendent of the plant so was well known and respected. I was so proud to be his granddaughter.
My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1953 and Grandpa died just three years later.
George Kornegor, Sr., was born July 12, 1878 near Collins, Iowa in Jasper County. He was the oldest child of Rachel and Thomas Kornegor. He grew to young manhood in the Collins community and at the age of eighteen he joined the Methodist Church in Maxwell, Iowa.
On November 15, 1903 he was united in marriage with Isabell Stockman, and they spent their early married life in Nevada, Iowa, where he was employed by the McHose Brick and Tile company. He later served as superintendent of the brick and tile companies at Iowa Falls, Van Meter and Sheffield, before coming to Rockford February 1, 1914. For 35 years he served as superintendent of the Rockford Brick and Tile Company. He was a member of the Rockford Town Council for fourteen years.
He suffered a heart attack Sunday, September 23 and departed this life October 1, 1956. George was a member of the Masonic Blue Lodge and Royal Arch Masons and had also served as a member of the town council.
My grandmother, Isabell, who had lost her life-long companion, never seemed to recover from her loss. She died just nine months later. I like to imagine that, like me, she had also lost her hero.