John Dackawich was born in the coal mining camp of Lochgelly, West Virginia, to Estelle Jablonski and Samuel Dackawich, both immigrants from Eastern Europe. John grew up in West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Living with six different families and changing schools ten times before he was 14, John had a tumultuous childhood.
After doing well in studies and lettering in four varsity sports, football being his favorite, he graduated from Belleville High School at age 16. In the 1941 High School State Championship game, he scored the winning touchdown on a fourth down, 50 yard pass play in the final minute of the game.
John enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at 17, serving in the Pacific. Later, during the Korean conflict he served in the U.S. Army. In 1950 he met Shirley McVay and they began their marriage in Trieste, Italy, where John was posted.
After the military John joined the world of academia, completing a BA at the University of Maryland and a PhD at the University of Colorado. His son Robert and daughter Nancy were born while he taught at Colorado State University. John’s next stop was at Long Beach State University, now Cal State University, Long Beach, as a member of the Sociology Department. While there, he was called by Cal State University, Fresno, to be the chair of a newly-formed Sociology Department, and he and his colleagues developed an excellent undergraduate program under his direction. He authored numerous research and theoretical papers and journal articles on topics such as community values, social stratification, the process of modernization, race relations, aging, international housing patterns, and higher-education aspirations and attainments. He also authored a short Sociology textbook.
After retiring in 1992 John and Shirley moved to Visalia to be nearer their grandchildren. Not content only with perfecting his golf game, John wrote and published a novel, The Fiery Furnace Effect.”
John was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Shirley. He is survived by his daughter Nancy Jehle and husband Max; son Robert; and three grandchildren, Zachary, Chelsea, Neil and his wife Keli.
A memorial service was held at the Visalia Friends Meetinghouse on March 23, 2018. While at Fresno State, agonizing about the Vietnam War, John found comfort at the Fresno Friends Meeting, which he attended until he moved to Visalia and our Meeting, where he and Shirley attended until their deaths. In both Meetings he was a committed and active member of the community.
They are missed in both our Meetings.