John Nance Karwoski

John KarwoskiJohn Nance Karwoski, 96, died at home Sunday, Feb. 22. Born in Stamford Aug. 13, 1918, John was the son of Polish immigrants John and Mary Pietzo Karwoski. He was the youngest of six children and the first in his family to attend college.

A graduate of Stamford High School where he was an avid baseball and football player, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. His football career was briefly interrupted due to an injury and subsequently he was recruited by the University of Chattanooga. There he became so popular that his caricature was frequently depicted in local newspaper accounts of the games.

John’s football and college career were postponed during World War II when he served in an antiaircraft battery and as a radio instructor. He was awarded the good conduct medal. In 1945, it was back to the gridiron at Chattanooga where he was voted captain. In the same year he was selected as a Little All American. As a career highlight, in John’s last game, he led his team to beat Ole Miss, a formidable rival.

In 1946, John made headlines once again when he married his hometown sweetheart, Eileen Van Tronk. After graduation, John and Eileen returned to Stamford where he worked as a manager at Yale and Towne and then Norma FAG until retirement. John taught English as a second language to numerous immigrants in Stamford and mentored many young people from Poland. In 1959, he moved his family to Ridgefield where he became both a Babe Ruth and Pop Warner coach.

John was an avid golfer and loved woodworking, particularly building model ships and airplanes. He had a true zest for life and as he aged into his 90’s, he was fond of saying he couldn’t possibly be that old because he felt like he was only “50.” A kind and gentle soul, he will be remembered by many for his incredible patience, for driving everyone home after high school parties, cooking pre-game football breakfasts, and backyard barbeques. He was a father figure to many of his children’s friends and a favorite “grandpa” to many of his grandchildren’s friends.

He was a member of the Ridgefield Men’s Club and Founder’s Hall.

Along with his wife of 69 years, Eileen, John is survived by his son, Rick and spouse Debbie of Manhattan Beach, Cal.; his daughters Leigh of Baltimore, Maryland, Michele of Raleigh, North Carolina and Gerri Lewis and husband Robert of Ridgefield. He is also survived by three grandchildren and their spouses: Tyson and Claire Lewis, Christian Lewis and Judi Lee of Brooklyn, and Gillian and Damien Sheerin of Ridgefield. He had six great grandchildren, Shelby, Miles, Holden, and Hunter Lewis and Lylah and Dylan Sheerin. A great grandson, Leroy Hayes Lewis, predeceased him. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and their families.

A celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Kane’s Funeral Home at 1 p.m. Calling hours and viewing are from 12 to 1. A private burial will take place in the spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to: Founders Hall of Ridgefield, Town of Ridgefield Emergency Fund, or Regional Hospice of Danbury.

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Jowdy Kane and Kane Funeral Homes