Longtime Wolfforth-area volunteer dies after sudden illness
A Wolfforth man known for volunteering in a variety of local causes, including putting on the Paint the Sky for Fourth of July fireworks show, died Jan. 26, after a sudden illness.
Steve Komarek, 57, moved to Wolfforth in the late 1980s when he was still working in the textbook business. He was in his late 30s when he saw an insert with his utility bill asking for residents to volunteer with the Wolfforth Fire Department.
His widow, Judy Komarek, said that was before they met, but her husband had told her he had too much free time and decided to volunteer.
“I think he said, ‘If I don’t, who will?’ ” Judy Komarek said.
While in the WFD, Steve Komarek was awarded the Fireman of the Year and Most Active Firefighter awards at least twice each. In 1982, before he ever joined the fire department, he was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, an award signed by President Ronald Reagan. All of his firefighting and other awards are carefully framed and displayed in his office.
Wolfforth Fire Chief Charles Addington said Steve Komarek had one of the biggest hearts of anyone he has ever known.
“When people needed something done, then you could rely on Steve to make it happen,” Addington said. “The bottom line is that he always had people’s best interests at heart.”
In 2001, he was named the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s Man of the Year. He was also a member of the chamber.
Through his work with the fire department, he eventually got involved in putting on Wolfforth’s first fireworks display in 1996. He later became licensed to put on larger displays, including Class B fireworks.
“Who doesn’t love fireworks in the first place? He’s a fireman, he knows how to put ’em out, so he thought, ‘Might as well put ’em up,’ ” Judy Komarek said. “I’d like to see it keep going on, because Steve started it.”
Addington said Steve Komarek was not just the leader, but “the everything” in buying and setting up the fireworks.
Steve Komarek also played a key role in starting up the fire department’s Santa project to take presents to children who might not get many.
In 1996, he became the first president of the Wolfforth Meals on Wheels program. He frequently took meals to those in need personally.
Barbara Gann, who worked with Steve Komarek on Meals on Wheels, said he was passionate about everything he did.
“Steve was a person who could not say, ‘No,’ or refuse to help an indivdual in need,” Gann said. “Steve was a friend to many and those who knew him could not help but love him. Wolfforth was blessed to have Steve in its community.”
In 2003, he helped to start the Wolfforth Regional Fire Academy through Texas A&M University.
As a member of the South Plains Regional Balloon Club, he helped organize several of the South Plains Balloon Round-ups.
Judy Komarek said she met Steve in 2006, and he convinced her to sell her business and embark on trips and adventures with him. While they were retired, he continued to do volunteer work with her at his side.
“It was nonstop since we met. It was intense. I call it a whirlwind romance,” she said.
Steve Komarek is survived by his wife, Judy; five brothers, David, Bruce, Frank, Henry and John; two daughters, Amanda Brooks and Michelle Komarek; one grandson, Timothy “Trey” Neumann; and two step-children, Amy Vallee and Richard Lack. He is preceded in death by his parents, Alphonsus F. Komarek and Monica (Smith) Komarek, and his brother, Richard Komarek.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2014 at the Lake Ridge Chapel.
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