The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 27, 2013

Ashtabula County WWII veteran receives special birthday gift

In 1938 Edman Kendzerski was a junior at the former Rock Creek High School, playing on their championship basketball team. The following year he worked at Laird’s Lumber in Ashtabula to help support his family, partly due to his father’s blindness. Three of his brothers, Ray, Leo and Joe, went overseas to serve their country during WWII.  Edman joined them in the service as a U.S. Navy -Armed Guard Rank -Gunners Mate from 1942 to 1945. The sacrifices he made in his youth prevented him from graduating with his class in 1939 and receiving a high school diploma.  On Kendzerski’s 92nd birthday this April, his daughter, Mary Boczar, presented him with a great gift: an honorary high school diploma.

“I’m still surprised,” said Kendzerski. “I was sitting in a chair at my birthday party when I opened it. The diploma said ‘Rock Creek High School, given in the year 1939.’ My head got so big that my hat wouldn’t fit on me. It (the high school diploma) was something I thought I’d never have. It came 74 years later. I want to thank my daughter, grandkids and the rest of the family for all they’ve done for me.”

Boczar needed her father’s honorable discharge papers because the diploma would be awarded in recognition of his service during WWII. Kendzerski still had the papers, packed away with his awards for distinguished merit during the war, including his Good Conduct Medal, American Area Ribbon, Victory Medal, European-African Middle East Ribbon and Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon.

 “We had to tell some white lies to get the papers from Dad. We told him it was for my great niece’s school project,” said Boczar.

Boczar next enlisted the help of Michael Barney, the accounting/technology teacher, senior class advisor and yearbook advisor at Jefferson Area High School.

“It is so funny how things work out in life. I was out of school due to the passing of my 90-year-old grandmother. She was my rock, inspiration and most importantly, she taught me so many life lessons about treating people with respect, kindness and making a difference in society,” he said.   

The day Barney returned to work, he was contacted about the diploma. He told Boczar that he would do everything he could to get it in a week’s time, by Kendzerski’s 92nd birthday, April 1. Arrangements were started with Thomas Lucas of the Ashtabula County Veteran’s Service Commission.

Loretta Panzarella, secretary at Rock Creek Elementary School, researched the appearance of the 1939 high school certificate. She is also a former Rock Creek High School graduate who handles alumni information for Rock Creek.  

“We needed to get the Rock Creek High School mascot, a pirate, to put on the diploma for Mr. Kendzerski. Mrs. Panzarella had that pirate mascot to me in a matter of minutes,” said Barney.   

He next contacted Rick Call, the school’s cap and gown representative from Herff -Jones. Call told Barney that he would work his magic so Kendzerski could receive the diploma on his birthday, along with a graduation cap and gown.

“After finding out that Mr. Kendzerski received the diploma on his birthday, I got a huge lump in my throat. We did in fact make the birthday a success.  Making others happy and making a difference is what life is all about. I know my grandma is looking down at me with a huge smile on her face,” said Barney.

Kendzerski married his sweetheart, the late Lois (Bebout) Kendzerski, in March of 1945 while on military leave. He returned home from the war that November, after serving on seven merchant ships throughout the Atlantic and Pacific. The Kendzerskis were married 65 years and reared seven children. The WWII vet retired from Rimes Trucking Company in Chardon in 1982.

“The Merchant Marine ships we sailed on hauled guns, ammunition and even airplanes. I went in with my dog tags on and was lucky to come home with them,” said Kendzerski.

Text Only
Local News
  • james wyman.jpg BEAT OF HIS OWN DRUM Lakeside graduate is right at home as timpanist with Baltimore Symphony Symphony

    It was a Tuesday morning in Baltimore not unlike many days here in Ashtabula County this past winter. The weather was the story of the day. Talk of wind chill, snow advisories and reports of delays and cancellations filled the topic of conversation in this East Coast city.
    James Wyman, however was still able to get to work though. Well, kind of, that is.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • db monday Sunrise Service.jpg Local churches celebrate at sunrise

    People of all ages gathered at Oakdale Cemetery at the break of dawn Sunday to celebrate at Easter sunrise service.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • monday APL pic.jpg Donate-to-win will aid shelter

    The Ashtabula County Animal Protective League reports that it started 2013 nearly $60,000 in debt, but finished the year “in the black by nearly $10,000” and reduced expenses by roughly $5,000.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Madison man dies in motorcycle crash

    The Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post is investigating a fatal accident between a car and a motorcycle that collided Saturday morning.
    Lee E. Mullins, 57, of Madison was traveling southbound on State Route 528, on a 2000 Suzuki motorcycle, approaching the intersection of St. Rt. 86, when a 2008 Ford Taurus driven by 36-year-old Kimberly J. Baney of Wampum, Pa. failed to yield at the stop sign entering the intersection.

    April 21, 2014

  • Spring is a time of renewal

    Spring is a time of renewal. A time for the ground to warm and the bulbs to bloom. Trees clothe themselves with a new coat of leaves.

    April 21, 2014

  • wd sunday race 1 .jpg Mad Hatters tradition continues with Metroparks

    Mexican sombreros, large cardboard cars and multi-colored hats were just a few of the unique headgear possibilities used by the more than 200 participants in the Grand River Canoe and Kayak Race on Saturday morning.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • wd sunday lakegg 12 .jpg Lake Shore Park Easter egg hunt draws hundreds

    Eight thousand eggs littered a portion of the parking lot at Lake Shore Park on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of children lined up to take their run at a full container of candy.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd sunday eggstrava 4 .jpg ADDA brings Easter fun to Ashtabula area children

    Children took advantage of the opportunity to hang out with the Easter bunny and have their faces painted on Saturday afternoon at Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Cornelius Park.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_7651.jpg School property could be given to N. Kingsville

    When North Kingsville Elementary School becomes a memory this summer, the property could be reborn as a village park, officials said.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • wd saturday drug raid 2 .jpg Good Friday raid nets drugs, dogs and money in Ashtabula

    It was not a “Good Friday” for two West 38th Street residents.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

Canoe Race and Ashtabula Easter Events
Good Friday Cross Walks and Easter Egg Hunts
Spring Comes Alive
Ashtabula Spring Cleaning
The Taping of the Teacher: A sticky Sitation
Saturday Fun in Ashtabula County March 22, 2014
American Red Cross Ashtabula County Heroes Breakfast
Rotary Club Dodge Ball Tournament
18th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Geneva State Park
End of year weather extremes
Christmas 2013
Harpersfield Barn Fire
Route 11 Rescue Plymouth Township
Ashtabula Fire
House Ads
AP Video
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday