Edward Gabriel Janosik died peacefully on Saturday, March 7, 2020, aged 102, following an extraordinarily long and eventful life.
Born on a farm outside of Youngstown, Ohio, the youngest of eight children, he was proud of his Slovak background, even taking his two daughters and their four children for a visit in the 1990s.
Music was one of Ed’s great loves, opening many doors for this poor Ohio farm boy. Playing tuba in his high school marching band enabled him to travel throughout the state. Afterwards he attended Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now University) where playing the tuba reduced his expenses such that his tuition was $1.50 per quarter – (not a typo). During his college years he also played in a dance band that toured roadhouses on weekends, a few of them rowdy enough that the bandstand was fenced off with chicken wire.
During the war, Ed’s good luck continued, even when his infantry division in Tunisia confronted the tanks of a young Erwin Rommel. Ed escaped with a serious leg injury that got him shipped pack to the States where at Valley Forge Army Hospital, he met an attractive auburn haired army nurse named Ellen who soon became his wife. However in 1943, the war was far from over, and once he recovered, Ed continued to serve in the Pentagon. Ultimately reaching the rank of major, he was given responsibility for coordinating voting for GIs serving overseas. He told stories of ballots having to be sent to the South Pacific theater twice, the second time with waxed paper slipped between the envelope and the flap to keep them from sealing themselves shut before the soldiers’ ballots had been cast.
This exercise in the logistics of democracy confirmed his love of politics, and after the war Ed enrolled in a PhD program in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, courtesy of the GI bill. He taught at Penn for two decades before moving to SUNY Geneseo, where he founded the Political Science Department and then served as its head for another two decades. Among his students are NY’s 25th District Congressman Joseph Morelli, Judge Bill Hart, and former Assistant District Attorney Mike Tantillo.
Ed himself was active in Democratic politics. He attended multiple National Conventions as a delegate, and provided expert television commentary to many more. In 2000 he ran for U.S. Congress in Cape May, New Jersey where he was living after retirement. After his wife Ellen passed away, he moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he continued to be active in Democratic politics, helping Senator Claire McCaskill launch her political career.
Still building his resume at 85, Ed began co-hosting a radio call-in show in Springfield. In his final years he produced an astute political newsletter every month with 400 readers in over 30 states as well as other countries.
Late last summer, Ed moved back east to be closer to family. He received a particularly warm welcome in Geneva from the local Masonic Lodges, Ed having been a Mason for sixty years.
Ed is survived by two daughters, Susanne McNally of Geneva, and Claire Griffin of Brooklyn. as well as four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, living in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
In lieu of flowers, friends and family are invited to make a gift to support the Janosik Prize, c/o Professor Koch, SUNY Geneseo or to the American Friends Service Committee’s work on behalf of asylum seekers. Visit afsc.org to donate.
A memorial service is planned for later in the spring.