Pastors' Memoirs

John Durkovich, 1925 – 2007

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2008 Memoirs

 John Durkovich was born Jan. 20,1925, to Slovak parents, Andrew and Anna Durkovich, of Johnstown, Pa. He was the first in his family to be born in America. Growing up during the Depression era, he and his family experienced many hardships. Learning to appreciate the simple things in life, John’s favorite snack consisted of crumbled saltine crackers in milk. This treat remained a favorite of his throughout his lifetime.
 Following two tours of duty in the United States Navy, John responded to God’s call to ministry in The United Methodist Church. He completed his undergraduate education at Ferrum and Randolph-Macon colleges, and earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. John was ordained an Elder in the Virginia Annual Conference in 1961. His ministerial career, which began in 1956, spanned 51 years. He served the following appointments: Dinwiddie; South Sussex; Matoaca; Bath Larger Parish; Phoebus; Chaplain Veteran’s Administration Center, Hampton, Va.; Chief of Chaplains Veteran’s Administration Center, Long Island, N.Y.; Mathews; Gloucester-Mathews; Irvington and Asbury.
 Being a forthright and compassionate servant of Christ, John’s ministry was undergirded by the power of prayer. He was an effective preacher and caring pastor. His joy and exuberance for life lifted the spirits of people. Always committed to the mission of the church, John traveled to Mexico and Russia as a Volunteer In Mission.
 As a community servant, he was one of the founding members of “Hands Across Mathews,” and an instructor for the State of Virginia A.S.A.P. Alcohol Education program. President Jimmy Carter asked John to serve on his committee for the American Disabilities Act. Other avenues of service in Mathews County included the rescue squad and the American Red Cross.
 John took a special interest in children and youth. He once stated, “If you want to remember me, don’t forget to stoop to a child, not look down at them, and recognize him or her as someone to love.” He found his work on the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry a rewarding one. This author is honored that John referred to him as “my son in the ministry.” He was an able mentor.
 John enjoyed fishing with family and friends. His boat stories were legendary. Duke basketball was a passion for him. He had fun engineering the train at Busch Gardens. The Masonic Lodge #20 was a great pleasure for John because he was thought of as a brother. John, a proud graduate of Ferrum College, served both as its alumni president (1961-62) and as a member of the Board of Directors (1996-1999).
 God blessed John and his wife, Betty, whom he married on Nov. 26,1955, with a happy marriage of deep friendship and three children of whom he was immensely proud: Andy and his wife, Joanne; Becky Zeller and her husband, John; and Mary Anna Canter and her husband, Glen. His five granddaughters, Tracey, Jessie, Megan, Taylor and Emily enriched his life and brought him great joy. John and Betty were not only a team in their marriage, but also in their efforts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 John, a child of God who loved the church and its ministry, died Nov. 26, 2007. Because of his faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, he was prepared for his homeward journey. A celebration of the life and ministry of John Durkovich was held at Salem United Methodist Church, Mathews, Va., on Dec. 2, 2007. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” — Matthew 25:21
— Rev. Amos S. Rideout, Jr.


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