It was with a great amount of sadness and a feeling of personal loss that I learned that a wonderful woman, Florence Krokoski of John XXIII Home in Hermitage, died last Thursday afternoon at 86 years of age.
To lots of people, she was called Florence or Mrs. Krokoski, but to a generation of students from the Farrell Area School District, she will be remembered with much joy simply as "Miss Flo." She was one special lady.
Miss Flo, who was a longtime secretary at Farrell High School, really, was our mom away from home. It seems like Miss Flo had all of the answers for us, no matter our problem.
She gave us her shoulder to cry on, she'd listen in earnest to our whining, she'd be the first to tell us when she thought we were wrong, and she'd serve as our mediator in school issues, Most times, though, she just brightened our days with her smile, and was a crucial part of our education at Farrell.
"Grease" is one of my favorite movies, and when I watch Principal McGee of Rydell High, played by the late Eve Arden, I always think of Miss Flo. But McGee's love of the school and students was fictional - Miss Flo's was real.
Her son, Chip Krokoski, has a Facebook page, and if you're interested in the respect and love we had for his mom, check out the many comments about her.
Ron Reed is a retired drama and English teacher from Farrell High. He was brand-spanking new to Farrell when he started teaching there in 1968. On Chip's Facebook page, he posted:
"My condolences to you, your sister (Kathy), and your entire family. Your mother was an awesome woman who touched so many of our lives. As a new teacher in an unfamiliar town, your mother took me under her wing and guided me. She will be a great loss, but we still have the memories and markings of having been a part of her life ..."
God sent us an angel in Miss Flo. After a wonderful life, he has called her back. Every kid needs a Miss Flo.
Tribute to Ed Krochka
I got the following email from George Chirikas of Shenango Township, who like hundreds, expressed his rememberance of Walmart greeter Ed Krochka.
"I, like you, enjoyed the wonderful experience of growing up in Farrell, having graduated with the class of 1961. The stories that you often write about Farrell and itÕs people are always a joy to read, and bring back many great memories of life on the 400 block of Wallis Avenue.
"The reason for this email is to let you how much we enjoyed the editorial that you wrote about Ed Krochka, and to relate to you a story about our grandson Braedon Allen. Braedon and his mom were at Walmart several months ago and Ed greeted him as usual and offered him a sticker that he took, but my daughter sensed that he was uncomfortable as they walked away. When she asked him what was wrong he said he thought he was too big to be getting stickers, but that he would always take one because he would never do anything to hurt his feelings.
"The last time he was at Walmart he noticed that Ed wasnÕt there, and asked his dad what could be wrong. His dad replied that he probably had a day off, and Braedon remarked that he hoped that was the case.
"Braedon was at our home when the obituary was published, and my wife read it to him. He was truly shocked, and remarked that if he had known that their birthdays were both on March 19, he would have wished him a happy birthday the last time he saw him. He said that Ed was a wonderful person and that many people would miss him.
"Just wanted to relate another story about a truly great man. God bless you Ed, and may you rest in peace."
Jim Raykie is executive editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays.