Obituary of John A. Rykala, Sr.
August 3, 2020
John A. Rykala, Sr., 83, passed away on August 3, 2020 at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital from complications of Parkinson's Disease with his family by his side. John was born to Polish immigrants in Portage, PA. After losing both parents at age 12, he moved to live with his sister Helen and brother-in-law Rocco Cafaro in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. He went to James Madison High School and became a C.P.A. after graduating from Baruch College. He married Jeannine Pece and they have three children. He worked at Prentice Hall, Arthur Andersen & Co., MGM in Los Angeles, CA and for 25 years at McGavren Guild Inc. and its parent company, Interep Inc. and other subsidiaries. After retiring in 1998, he had a tax accounting practice until 2012. John was the only son and ninth child with nine sisters. He is survived by his devoted long-time partner, Elsa J Medina, children John A Jr. (Laura), Anthony and Lisa J. Fleites, adoring grandchildren Christopher (Melinda) and Philip Rykala, Justin and Thomas Fleites, sister Frances (Gordon) Taylor, brother-in-law William Hallow, "brothers" Peter and Stanley Cafaro, many nephews and nieces and by his ex-wife Jeannine Pavero. He was pre-deceased by eight sisters and seven brothers-in-law. He was the "Polish Prince" of the Rykala clan, well-liked, loving, kind and generous. He liked reading, music and enjoyed traveling. He went through life with a smile in his face, twinkle in his eye, a joke at the ready, a good belly laugh and many, many songs in his heart. He was special, loved and will be missed.
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Uncle John is a great man. He will be missed by man. I'm so thankful to have had a chance to come visit last year. Sending my love and prayers to everyone mourning his passing. I wish the times were different and I could be there to celebrate his life with you all. Much love from Ohio, Kristen. XO
Posted by: Kristen Beckman - Oregon, OH - August 4, 2020
I always thought Uncle John's jokes and the made-up greetings he used when answering the phone were rather corny. So once upon a time when I called him on his birthday, I almost had him believe that he had been selected to join a fund-raising dinner with Al Gore himself. I just wasn't able to keep my voice straight for long. We had a good laugh then. All these speak of Uncle John's quick wit, great sense of humor, and sincere generosity. Even when I saw him last year, these still shone through. We are all thankful to have known Uncle John -- and he truly will be missed.
Thank you, Uncle John, for all the good times we had during our visits. Thank you for the love, joy, and companionship you gave Mom.
Posted by: Patrick Medina - , - August 4, 2020
Uncle John, #9 out of 10 children and the only boy, was nicknamed "The Polish Prince." He was loved by all and doted on by his nine sisters. He was extremely good to my mother, #10 in the lineup. Always remembering her birthdays and coming to Annapolis to visit when he could. His calls while she was battling cancer brightened her days and eased her anxiety. He and Elsa were always so good to my sister and me. We will never forget your warm smile and awesome sense of humor, Uncle John!
Posted by: Laura Bowcutt - Annapolis, MD - August 4, 2020
Remembering you with fondness. . Eternal rest and God's light shine upon you.
Posted by: Apple Caluag - , - August 4, 2020
Remembering with fondness the fun I had as a child when there was a big Polish wedding in Michigan. The day after the wedding the Uncles would take the kids roller skating in the afternoon. I remember many a time roller skating to our special request of New York, New York with Uncle John. ❤ I also remember how my mom, Kay and all of her sisters always referred to him as My brother John when talking to each other about him. ❤ My Mom treasured her brother and his phone calls. It made her so happy when he stayed at her little house in Centerline on one visit after my dad was gone. ❤ I also learned that Michigan coffee was different from New York coffee. Apparently New York coffee gives you more of a jolt to get going in the morning. ❤ I will always treasure our last visit as a family in New York when I shared my memories of Aunt Helen and Uncle Bob and their home on Dooley street. Uncle John was surprised at how much I remembered and talked about how Aunt Helen and Uncle Bob were his family and Peter and Stanley his brothers. ❤ The Rykala family had many trials over the years but remained close and connected. May you be at Peace Uncle John. My love to Aunt Elsa and all my New York family. ❤
Posted by: Jackie Ham - Ann Arbor, MI - August 4, 2020
Uncle John, how we wish we can be there to see you and to spend time with you. We have so many happy memories with you, especially when you visited us in VA. Your version of "THAT'S AMORE" is the BEST! And the Green Eggs and Ham, and the Pokemon cards for Christian. And your cat that's always hiding from Sam always meow meowing. Many, many thanks for your kindness and generosity to our family. Our love to you always - from the Andrade Family
Posted by: Joanna Andrade - MISSOURI CITY, TX - August 4, 2020
Uncle John had a contagious sense of humor and such a generous spirit. He loves his family and Elsa so much. The memories we share will never be forgotten. So blessed to have a Great Uncle with so many Great Aunts-he was pure joy and love.
Posted by: Amy Walsh - Jamestown, RI - August 5, 2020
My condolences to Elsa and to John's family. I have fond memories working at Interep (25+ years ago) for many years.
Posted by: Catherine Reid - New York, NY - November 7, 2020