A Tale of Two Remarkable People

Posted on by in Remarkability

Today was one of those days none of us wants, at 12:20 p.m. I received word that one of my friends passed away.  His name was John Horvat and he was the media specialist that the church I used to serve contracted with through the Montgomery County Public School system. Since our church used a school auditorium, if we wanted lights, we needed to hire a media specialist—hence my introduction to John.  Now, as a media specialist, hired to do a job of turning lights on and off, John wasn’t under any obligation to do anything extra or special for us—but he did . . . for years.

One of the vice-principals at the high school said to one of our church members today, "You know, John loved your church.  If I asked John, ‘John, could you move a light for me,’ he would say, ‘Yeah, when I can get around to it.’ But if you guys asked John for something, it would be done immediately."  And he was correct.  I’ve rarely encountered a person who did so much extra that he wasn’t paid to do.  John would add lights, rearrange lights for us, come up with new ideas, guard our usage of the auditorium, deal with school officials, work out deals for us, solve problems for us, bring mail to our offices that happened to be sent to the school, build lighting apparatus for us, even arrange his time off so that he could be in church each week to make sure everything worked just right.  I can’t even begin to enumerate all of the extra things that John did to make sure that week in and week out we could pull off a great church experience.  In fact, he passed away this morning in a fall from the cat walk as he was trying to rearrange some lights because of a change in the stage placement.  Most of what John did for Seneca Creek, he wasn’t required to do—he just did.  And as such, he was REMARKABLE.  John didn’t just do what was required, he went above and beyond to do the little bit extra that turned what he did from ordinary to extraordinary. I will deeply miss John.

Then in a much smaller way, i do want to say thank you to the Head of the ICU Department at Shady Grove Adventist hospital.  When my wife Jacquie and I arrived at the hospital shortly after we heard about John’s accident, we weren’t given a whole lot of helpful information at the information desk.  So, I decided to use my old clergy card to track down where John’s wife, Beth, happened to be.  But when I arrived at the clergy office, since it was Sunday, the office door was closed.  Not knowing what else to do, I saw a gentleman coming out of a hallway with a hospital ID card on, so I asked him, "Do you know how I could find the clergy member on call? I’m the former pastor of a man who just passed away and I’m trying to track down his wife."  He said, "Well, on Sunday I’m sure the clergy office is closed, but if you follow me, I’m heading up to ICU and I’m sure I can get one of the nurses to call for you."  Great customer service moment. 

As we got on the elevator, I asked him his name.  He said, "Safy John." We talked briefly and then entered the ICU unit.  As we did, I noticed everyone said, "Hi!" to him—so I innocently said, half-jokingly, "It seems you’re rather well known around these parts, eh?" To which he snickeringly replied, "Well I should be, I’m the head of this department."(A great gotcha moment!) But even after he got one of the nurses to make some calls for us, he stayed with this "project" until we got in touch with the clergy member who had met with Beth when she arrived at the hospital—and then he was on to his other responsibilities.

To me this was remarkable.  The head of a department (though he wasn’t dressed that way on a Sunday afternoon) didn’t just pass me off to the nearest person or just point the way or just give me a number to call or just say, "I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do."  He took the time to listen, walk with me, help me find the information I needed and then stayed with it until resolution.  And as I keep saying, in today’s world, that’s remarkable!

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10 Responses to “A Tale of Two Remarkable People”

  1. Matt Larson 24 October 2005 at 7:58 am #

    Those of us from John’s fire and rescue family who knew him are reeling from this tragic loss. He will be missed by so many.

  2. www.wvrs.org 24 October 2005 at 10:32 am #

    He gave us all a lot more than any of us could fully understand. Helping the school, your church, and our rescue squad, he was clearly a commensurate community volunteer.
    His same level volunteerism and commitment will sorely be missed.
    Rest in peace, Chief.

  3. Sandra B. 24 October 2005 at 12:40 pm #

    Chad and I wrestled all day yesterday with the news of this tradgedy. John was such a great guy, willing to listen, willing to offer advice, and more than willing to lend a hand to help with whatever needed to be done. I can only say that I am grateful for the time we had to get to know him, for the example of servanthood he modelled for us, and that he ended his life here on earth doing what he loved to do.
    May Beth and his family be surrounded with the love and peace only Jesus can give…

  4. ruth 26 October 2005 at 11:56 am #

    A big loss! I knew him by face and didn’t know his name , but saw his faithfulness. A new person , but the impact it had on me was too painful. I just couldn’t understand why? and felt so sad.
    I’m sure God’s love and comfort is with Beth and his family.

  5. David Merritt 26 October 2005 at 10:49 pm #

    I had the privelage of working with John on the recent committe with Wheaton Rescue Squad Ambulances. He will sadly be missed by everyone.

  6. Kent Husted 27 October 2005 at 2:44 pm #

    Proverbs 10:11 states, “The words of a good person give life, like a fountain of water.” Each Sunday while @ Seneca Creek, as I rushed to “beat the setup clock” I would invariably find myself having built up quite a thirst and not for water, but a laugh and word of encouragement. John was always there to put a smile on my face asking, “Who said you could come out of the basement? Get back down in the gym before Bruce sees you!” As a look back on my time @ SCCC, John is firmly woven into the fabric of memories, “giving life, like a fountain of water”, through his smile, dry sense of humor and genuine interest he took in me and my family.

  7. Malcolm Munro 28 October 2005 at 5:40 am #

    I didn’t know John, but seeing the impact he made on so many people’s lives both in our church and in the community says much about him. It also makes me ask the question (and maybe we all should): What am I doing right now to leave that kind of positive impact on the world.
    Thanks John for a job and a life well done!
    Malcolm Munro
    http://www.professormal.com

  8. Marty 30 October 2005 at 10:59 am #

    Sorry about the loss of your friend and co-worker.
    I was glad to hear about the good experience at Shady Grove. I’m an Adventist pastor and it is nice to hear that you were treated well there.
    I do miss your blog on pastoring. Can’t remember how I came across it, but I enjoyed it. I’ll keep up with this one perhaps.
    Blessings.

  9. Steve Vincent 29 January 2006 at 1:04 am #

    I was a student aide for John in the late 80’s, and spent most of my high school years working with him on school plays and in the TV studio. Word of his tragic death reminded me of his kindness, his commitment to others, and his friendship.
    My thoughts are with his family and friends. Thanks John.

  10. wevaabsotTott 10 May 2008 at 1:25 pm #

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