It is the finish, not the start that counts, and John Erak Jr. finished well with all who knew him leaving behind an irreproachable legacy.
On June 28, 2013, our Lord brought John home. John was an educator, school administrator, legislator, Aberdeen City Councilman, USN veteran, husband, father, grandpa, uncle, friend and lifetime Harbor resident.
John, the son of John Sr. and Maggie (Grgich) Erak was born on April 7, 1932, in Aberdeen, Washington. He graduated from Weatherwax High School in 1951, attended Grays Harbor College and later received a Bachelor of Arts in education from Central Washington University. John’s continuing education encompassed the University of Washington, the University of Puget Sound and the University of Oregon where he received his master’s degree and principal credentials.
As an educator, John spent the majority of his teaching career at Cosmopolis and later as the principal of Wishkah Valley High School. During his 31 years in education, he also held the seat of Grays Harbor County School Superintendent. John retired in 1988, but still continued to educate our youth through substitute teaching.
John’s love for community service was life-long. The campaign trail began for him in his twenties and literally continued to the end of his life. During this time, he served as Aberdeen City Councilman as well as State Representative of the 19th Legislative District. In-between holding elected positions, John stayed politically active by being a campaign manager for various elections, and by mentoring numerous candidates with their political endeavors.
John was also actively involved in the Aberdeen Museum, the Aberdeen Lions Club, the Croatian Fraternal Union of America and was a strong advocate for the South Beach fisherman and businesses of Westport. John served in the Navy and participated in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars events. His love for our country was remarkable. John reflected his patriotism in each letter he faithfully wrote to the newspapers every Veterans and Memorial Day in support of our veterans of whom he coined as “America’s Treasures.”
John’s effervescent personality set the world on fire. He had a passion for performance and was a strong supporter of the Driftwood Players where he once received the “Ham Award” for his acting ability. Many Harborites remember John as a “football star” where he often brought the cheering crowds to their feet.
John loved the old American Standards such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Glen Miller, but particularly, Elvis Presley – who perhaps was the inspiration for him traversing the streets of Grays Harbor during the 1950s on a Triumph motorcycle while sporting long black sideburns and dark wavy hair. And, nobody stepped on John’s “new black shoes”…because he “knew Judo!” It was during this time that he met and married Dolores Moe on August 19, 1956.
John is survived by Dolores Erak of Aberdeen, W; a son, Ron Erak and his wife Sandra of Seattle, Wash.; two daughters, Tracey Erak-Lundquist of Olympia, Wash. and Kay Merino and husband Doug Merino of Olympia, Wash.; one brother, Joseph Erak and his wife Barbara of Seattle, Wash.; and his dear nephew and niece, Tom Erak and Susan Erak of Seattle, Wash. He was Grandpa to nine grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and also has numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of John’s life will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at the First Presbyterian Church, 420 N. Broadway in Aberdeen. Reverend Doug Basler will officiate, and Lt. Governor, Brad Owen, will deliver the eulogy. The United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and Washington State Patrol Honor Guard are giving both military and state honors to John. A reception will follow at the Aberdeen Museum.
A card of condolence with a message or a memory may be sent to the family at www.fernhillfuneral.com
Arrangements are entrusted to Fern Hill Funeral Home, Aberdeen.