A man who made it his mission to record and photograph as many community events in Chatham-Kent as possible over the past quarter of a century has died.
John Tomecek died last Wednesday at age 74.
Tomecek was inspired to start recording community events in 1995 during the many occasions celebrating the centennial year of the former City of Chatham – and he just kept the camera rolling.
A major beneficiary of Tomecek’s volunteer efforts was the Royal Canadian Legion.
“He did a helluva lot for us,” said Len Maynard, zone commander and Chatham Branch 642 president. “He will definitely be missed.”
Maynard said Tomecek attended almost all the local legion events, including Remembrance Day ceremonies and Decoration Day at the cemetery, as well swearing-in ceremonies and awards banquets.
He added Tomecek would bring in copies of his videos and photos to give to legion members.
“I can’t say enough for what he’s done,” Maynard said. “No matter if it was raining, cold or hot, he was out there. “The man was just incredible … he couldn’t enough for you.”
When Maynard heard of Tomecek’s passing, he immediately ordered the flags at the legion to be lowered to half-mast.
“He may not have been a member, but he did an awful lot for us.”
Former Chatham-Kent mayor Randy Hope called Tomecek “the definition of community spirit” for his dedication to record and photograph so many community events from council meetings to parades.
He said Tomecek took every event seriously and “he marked it as a special occasion, a special moment in Chatham-Kent’s history.”
Hope pointed out Tomecek did this as a volunteer and made sure to know when events were happening so he could be there.
“John was that fixture you were guaranteed to see.”
He added Tomecek wasn’t seeking personal accolades.
“He did it because he really cared about the community, cared about the moments.”
Hope said he had a close friendship with Tomecek, adding they often talked about a variety of topics, including local government and community events.
Tomecek gave him numerous photos that he took when Hope was attending events as mayor.
“He would bring them by the office and say, ‘Hey, I think you might want this,’ and he never looked for anything out of it. It was purely because he wanted to,” Hope said.
Tomecek’s funeral will be live-streamed from Alexander & Houle Funeral Home on Saturday, Dec. 19, beginning at 1 p.m.